CLOSE
Original image

10 Reasons Why James Dyson Doesn't Suck

Original image

My girlfriend is moving into my apartment in June, and among the myriad things I'm excited about is the opportunity to buy a new vacuum. My current roommate's vacuum is basically a motorized drinking straw that requires 15 passes over the same piece of string before picking it up and dropping it on the floor again. While we probably can't afford a Dyson, I marvel at the man who just thinks things should work properly.

1. He conquered Japan

Japan's market for hi-tech gadgets is, to say the least, saturated. But the constant innovation means the Japanese are less attached to their brands, which allowed Dyson to break into the market in the early 90s when no one in the UK was interested in his bagless vacuum design. Dyson snagged an International Design Fair prize with his G-Force model, and the Japanese began snatching them up at $2,000 a piece.

2. He's got an awesome house to clean with that fancy vacuum

Sometimes, two houses aren't enough. So in 2003, Dyson bought his third home, Dodington Park, a country estate in Gloucestershire, England. The estate sits on 300 acres of land, which feature an orangery, several gardens, two lakes, a mile-long "carriage drive," and the source of the River Fromme.

The house itself, not to be overshadowed by the land around it, has 35,000 square feet of space, 15 bedrooms, 40 bathrooms and 10 reception rooms (a morning room, an ante room, a library and a music room just to name a few). And that's just the main house; there are also staff quarters, two lodges, a Dower house, a farmhouse and four cottages (which bring the bedroom total to 51). If Dyson wants to admire the view of the property from any of the buildings, he can choose from 150 windows. If he just wants to sit back and relax, he's got 24 fireplaces to settle down next to.

3. A battle with disease turned him into a philanthropist

Dyson contracted viral meningitis when he was 45, but didn't realize it until his wife insisted his doctor test for it. After learning how hard the symptoms are to diagnose, Dyson set out to raise awareness of the disease and its symptoms. In 2000, he raised £1.5 million for the Meningitis Research Foundation by auctioning off two of his company's executives for a sponsored leg wax, playing a charity football match against Malmesbury's Victoria Football Club (the Dyson team won 5-1), holding Dyson Quiz Nights at 20 different pubs and donating the proceeds from the sales of 40,000 limited-edition purple and magenta vacuums.

4. It's simply a cool vacuum

dyson.jpg
People usually don't throw the word "revolutionary" around when talking about vacuum cleaners, but Dyson's design is considered just that. The bag-less, filter-less design doesn't clog or lose suction. It's a nice piece of eye candy, too, and is included in the collections of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the London Science Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, the Museum für Angewandte Kunst in Cologne, the Zurich Design Museum, the Design Museum in Lisbon and the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney

5. Frustration was the mother of his invention

When Dyson was six-years-old, his father grew ill, forcing the boy to help his mother around the house. Vacuuming was his least favorite chore because of the "terrible smell of stale dog and dust" and poor suction on the vacuum. Three decades later, still frustrated by his vacuum cleaner at home, he was visited a sawmill and saw workers cleaning up sawdust with a big cone that used a spinning column of air for suction. He spent the next three years in his workshop developing his dual-cyclone vacuum.

6. He's an icon of clean

Three years ago, the Dyson became the most popular vacuum cleaners in America—one in five of all floor cleaners bought carried his name. His vacuums have made cameos on Friends and Ellen DeGeneres' daytime talk show, been given away in goodie bags at both the Emmys and the Oscars, and used to accessorize models at Fashion Week. The man is a real life Mr. Clean, but he's still ambitious. He told Salon.com that he wants to become a verb, in the same way Google has. If you want to help the guy out, Google a vacuum store near you and Dyson your dirty floors.

7. That's Sir James Dyson to you

Dyson was honored as a Knight Bachelor in 2006, a move that drew some criticism from union leaders angered by the fact that, just four years earlier, Dyson moved his vacuum production plant from England to Malaysia. Despite the controversy, Dyson can rest easy knowing that he has a fan in the Queen. In his autobiography he says, "I was bowing in front of Her Majesty to receive this great big medal around my neck when she said, 'And what do you do exactly, Mr. Dyson?' I told her that I was the manufacturer of the Dyson vacuum cleaner. 'Oh, really?' she said. 'We've got dozens of them about the palace.'" A ringing endorsement if there ever was one.

8. He wants you to learn from his mistakes (and yours)

dyson-school.jpg
Dyson says it took him four and a half years and 5,127 prototypes to refine the design of his vacuum. There's a life lesson in determination there, but more important is the knowledge that the road to success is sometimes paved with 5,000+ failures. Dyson embraces the lessons people can learn from mistakes and has said that the "the freedom to fail" is lacking in public education. So in 2006 (a busy year for him), he announced his plan to build the Dyson School of Design Innovation. The goal of the school is to encourage teenagers to explore careers in engineering and design. Twenty-five hundred students will receive a free education with a heavy focus on hands-on projects and close relationships with mentors. The school, funded by the James Dyson Foundation and the British government, will also have weeklong residencies for younger children with interests in engineering.

Dyson's desire to educate also takes shape at his company, where every new employee, right up to the highest executives, tries their hand a building a vacuum on their first day.

9. His wife and kids aren't resting on his laurels

Mrs. Deirdre Dyson has her own rug design business, and a few of her rugs have shown up in the Big Brother house. The Dysons' daughter, Emily, used to work as a designer for Paul Smith. Like her father, she turned her frustration at a lack of appealing products into a business. She now owns Couverture, a boutique in London. Their son Jacob also took up the family trade and has a career in lighting design. The other Dyson son, Sam, is obviously the black sheep of the designing family; he plays guitar in a band called Wax On Wax Off.

10. He's pretty nifty with other things, too

After he turned the world of household appliances on its head, Dyson started tinkering with other things and grabbed headlines at the 2002 Chelsea Flower Show with the "Wrong Garden." Dyson built the water sculpture, which features four glass ramps positioned in a square, with the water seemingly flowing uphill and pouring off the top, after finding inspiration in an M.C. Escher drawing. Like Escher's work, it's a clever optical illusion; water is pumped in at the bottom of the glass structures and comes out of an opening at the top. At the opening, some of the water falls back down the surface of the ramp, while the rest falls over the edge like a waterfall. Compressed air pumped in along with the water causes bubbles to travel up the ramp towards the opening, creating the illusion of the water's upward movement.

His latest project is the Dyson Airblade, a super-efficient and enviro-friendly hand dryer. The dryer produces an air stream that flows out of a slit no thicker than an eyelash at 400 mph. In tests, the Airblade dried hands completely in just ten seconds and beat the energy efficiency of conventional dryers by 83%. Insert your own "this blows as hard as the vacuum sucks" joke here.

Matt Soniak is a mental_floss intern. You can read more about Matt on his own blog, Bat Country. He may have to venture into acting, if only to get his hands on one of those pretty yellow vacuums they give to Oscar nominees.

Original image
Getty
arrow
Lists
13 Fantastic Museums You Can Visit for Free on Saturday
Original image
Getty

On Saturday, September 23, museums and cultural institutions across the United States will open their doors to the public for free, as part of Smithsonian magazine’s annual Museum Day Live! event. Hundreds of museums are set to participate, ranging from world-famous institutions in major cities to tiny, local museums in small towns. While the full list of museums can be viewed, and tickets can be reserved, on the Smithsonian website, we’ve collected a small selection of the fantastic museums you can visit for free this Saturday.

1. NEWSEUM // WASHINGTON, D.C.

The Newseum in Washington, D.C. is an entire museum dedicated to the First Amendment. Celebrating freedom of religion, speech, press, assembly and petition, the museum features exhibits on civil rights, the Berlin Wall, and the history of news media in America. Their latest special exhibitions take a look back at the event of September 11, 2001 and go inside the FBI's crime-fighting tactics.

2. INTREPID SEA, AIR & SPACE MUSEUM // NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK

iStock

New York's Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum doesn’t just showcase America’s military and maritime history—it is a piece of that history. The museum itself is one of the Essex-class aircraft carriers built by the United States Navy during World War II. Visitors can explore its massive deck and interior, and view historic airplanes, a real World War II submarine, and a range of interactive exhibits. Normally, a ticket will set you back a whopping $33 (or $19 for New York City residents), but on Saturday, general admission is free with a Museum Day Live! ticket.

3. AUTRY MUSEUM OF THE AMERICAN WEST // LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA

Perfect for art lovers, history buffs, and cinephiles alike, the Autry Museum of the American West (named for legendary singing cowboy Gene Autry) offers up an eclectic mix of art, historical artifacts from the real American West, and Western film memorabilia and props.

4. MUSEUM OF ARTS AND SCIENCES // DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA

A massive art, science, and history museum located on a 90-acre nature preserve, the Museum of Arts and Sciences features the largest collection of Florida art anywhere in the world, as well as the largest collection of Coca-Cola memorabilia in all of Florida. Its diverse exhibits are alternately awe-inspiring, informative, and quirky, ranging from an exploration of 2000 years of sculpture art to an exhibition of 19th and 20th century advertising posters.

5. INTERNATIONAL MUSEUM OF THE HORSE AT THE KENTUCKY HORSE PARK // LEXINGTON, KENTUCKY

The International Museum of the Horse explores the history of—you guessed it!—the horse. That might sound like a narrow scope, but the museum doesn’t just display horse racing artifacts or teach you about modern horse breeds. Instead, it endeavors to tackle the 50-million-year evolution of the horse and its relationship with humans from ancient times to modern times.

6. THE PEGGY NOTEBAERT NATURE MUSEUM // CHICAGO, ILLINOIS

Pete LaMotte, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The 160-year-old Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum is pulling out all the stops for this year’s Museum Day Live! In addition to their vast exhibits of animal specimens and cultural artifacts, the museum will be hosting a live animal feeding and a butterfly release throughout the day.

7. OGDEN MUSEUM OF SOUTHERN ART // NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA

The Ogden Museum of Southern Art aims to teach visitors about the rich culture and diverse visual arts of the American South. Right now, visitors can view a collection of William Eggleston's photographs and check out the museum's 10th annual invitational exhibition of ceramic teacups and teapots.

8. BALTIMORE MUSEUM OF INDUSTRY // BALTIMORE, MARYLAND

Marcin Wichary, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

Located in a 19th century oyster cannery on the Baltimore waterfront, the Baltimore Museum of Industry tells the story of American manufacturing from garment making to video game design. Visitors this weekend can meet video game designers and create custom games at the museum’s interactive “Video Game Wizards” exhibit.

9. SYLVAN HEIGHTS BIRD PARK // SCOTLAND NECK, NORTH CAROLINA

You can meet 2000 birds from around the world this weekend at the 18-acre Sylvan Heights Bird Park. Visitors to the massive garden can walk through aviaries displaying birds from every continent except Antarctica, including ducks, geese, swans, and exotic birds from all over the world.

10. DELTA BLUES MUSEUM // CLARKSDALE, MISSISSIPPI

Visit Mississippi, Flickr // CC BY-ND 2.0

Visitors to the Delta Blues Museum can learn about the unique American musical art form in “the land where blues began,” with audiovisual exhibits centered on blues and rock legend Don Nix, as well as Paramount Records illustrator Anthony Mostrom.

11. NATIONAL MUSEUM OF NUCLEAR SCIENCE & HISTORY // ALBUQUERQUE, NEW MEXICO

America’s only congressionally chartered museum dedicated to the story of the Atomic Age, the National Museum of Nuclear Science & History features exhibits on everything from nuclear medicine to representations of atomic power in pop culture. Adult visitors to the museum will delight in its impressively nuanced take on nuclear technology, while kids will love the museum’s outdoor airplane exhibit and hands-on science activities at Little Albert’s Lab.

12. MUSEUM OF THE MOUNTAIN MAN // PINEDALE, WYOMING

sporst, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

Dedicated to the mountain men who explored and settled Wyoming in the 19th century, the Museum of the Mountain Man brings American folklore and legends to life. The museum features exhibits on the Rocky Mountain fur trade and tells the story of American folk legend and famed mountain man Hugh Glass (the man Leonardo DiCaprio won an Oscar playing in 2015's The Revenant).

13. BESH BA GOWAH ARCHAEOLOGICAL PARK AND MUSEUM // GLOBE, ARIZONA

Arizona’s Besh Ba Gowah Archaeological Park and Museum lets visitors connect with history firsthand. The museum is home to the ruins and artifacts of the Salado Indians who inhabited Arizona from the 13th century through the 15th century, and even lets visitors wander through an 800-year-old Salado pueblo.

Original image
Kimberly White/Getty Images
arrow
job secrets
12 Secrets of Sephora Employees
Original image
Kimberly White/Getty Images

With more than 2000 stores in 33 countries, Sephora has arguably become the ultimate destination for all things beauty-related. Founded in France in 1970, the cosmetics giant sells a variety of makeup, nail polish, perfume, and skincare products, but it’s not your average beauty store. The shops offer customers an interactive experience, with beauty advice and free samples galore. We got the skinny on what it’s like to work there—from the special vocabulary they use to why they’re always happy to give out samples.

1. THEY HAVE THEIR OWN LINGO.

Sephora employees use a variety of terms to refer to themselves, their wardrobe, and where they work. Employees who interact with customers on the sales floor (a.k.a. the stage) are dubbed cast members, and managers are called directors. Continuing the theatrical theme, Sephora employees refer to their uniforms as costumes and call the back area of the store the backstage. There's also a particular term they use to describe all the free loot they get—gratis.

2. WEARING MAKEUP IS A JOB REQUIREMENT.

A Sephora employee in uniform applies eyeshadow to another woman seated in a chair
Bryan Bedder/Getty Images

Sephora employees sometimes jokingly refer to their costumes’ futuristic style—black dresses with red stripes or black separates with red accents—as Star Trek attire. But besides donning Trek-y garb, Sephora employees must also wear fragrance and a full face of makeup. “We had a minimum amount that we had to wear every day, and we got written up if we didn’t wear it,” writes Garnetstar28, a former color and fragrance expert at Sephora, on Reddit. “In the beginning it was fun, but when I started working the opening shift I really started to hate having to put that much makeup on at 6 in the morning."

While most employees must wear eyeliner, eye shadow, mascara, foundation, blush, and lipstick, some of them can get away with wearing less makeup, depending on their area of specialty and the location of the store. And although they don’t necessarily need to wear products sold at Sephora, management often encourages employees to do so because many customers ask cast members about the products they personally use.

3. THEY MIGHT NEVER HAVE TO BUY THEIR OWN MAKEUP …

Reps from various beauty brands regularly visit Sephora stores to educate employees about their new products and how to use them. In these trainings, which typically occur a few times a week, Sephora workers may receive free products (in full, half, or sample sizes) to try. That can add up quickly, with some employees estimating that they’ve accumulated thousands of dollars worth of products. “I will most likely never have to buy mascara ever again,” writes Kaitierehh, a Sephora Color Lead (the manager of a store’s color cosmetics section), on Reddit.

4. … BUT IF THEY DO, THEY GET HEFTY DISCOUNTS.

A line of women pour over a new Sephora display of makeup in Australia
Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images

If Sephora employees want a specific product that’s missing from their gratis goodies, they can always purchase it from their employer—at a steep discount. Store policies vary, but most employees enjoy a 20 percent discount for in-store and online products. During the winter holidays, this discount increases to 30 percent, and products from Sephora’s own collection are always available for a 40 percent discount. Additionally, Sephora employees who work at stores inside J.C. Penney (Sephora has a partnership with the department store chain) enjoy a 20 to 30 percent discount on J.C. Penney products. Not a bad deal.

5. THEY CAN WORK THEIR WAY UP FROM CASHIER TO SKINCARE PHD.

At Sephora, most new hires—who don’t need to have any makeup application experience—start at the bottom, working as cashiers or stocking the shelves overnight. But opportunities for growth abound. “Once you feel comfortable you can let your managers know you want ‘to go through build’ where you will learn about all the different ‘worlds’ the store has to offer,” a Sephora employee going by littleboots writes on Reddit. “Eventually you will be tested, and if you pass, you will have your very own brush belt.”

Sephora employees go through plenty of training, from the Science of Sephora (a curriculum covering makeup application and customer service) to hands-on learning from brand reps. “Sephora is amazing about education,” says Kim Carpluk, a Senior Artist and Class Facilitator at one of the company's New York City locations. “I’ve grown so much as an artist in just three years with the company,” she tells Mental Floss.

Cast members who complete additional training (beyond Science of Sephora) are eligible to earn a Skincare PhD, a senior title bestowed upon employees who have comprehensive knowledge and serve as personal beauty advisors to customers. Additionally, a select few become part of the Sephora Pro team, traveling the country to demonstrate makeup application techniques and represent the company on the brand’s social media channels.

6. THEY WISH MORE PEOPLE WOULD PRACTICE GOOD HYGIENE.

A display of Mar Jacobs makeup a a Sephora store in Australia
Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images

The various testers around the store let customers dab on concealer, experiment with a new shade of gloss, or test a bold eye shadow. Although Sephora employees work hard to monitor and sanitize the testing stations, they can’t completely control what customers do. “I’ve seen people with cold sores, people with really nasty chapped lips, and people who were visibly sick using lipsticks and glosses on their mouths,” Garnetstar28 says. Besides the gross factor, contaminated makeup brushes, applicators, and wands can harbor bacteria (including E. coli) and spread infections. To minimize the risk, Sephora employees use alcohol-based sanitizers and encourage customers to use disposable applicators.

7. THEY AREN’T PRESSURED TO MAKE COMMISSIONS.

Unlike salespeople at other beauty retailers, Sephora employees don’t work off commission—so they feel free to give customers their unbiased opinions about products. “We just really care. The reason a lot of us work for Sephora is because we don’t have to work off commission,” Carpluk says. “We’re there to support each other and make our clients feel beautiful and happy, and suggest what’s right for them based on their particular concerns.”

To encourage cast members to be positive and friendly (without the motivation of commissions), Sephora offers customers online surveys that allow them to rate their experience at a store. Managers may also reward cast members who meet hourly sales goals (selling more than $100 worth of products in the next hour, for example) with free beauty products. “If we do extra well a manager might randomly let you choose extra gratis,” littleboots reveals.

8. THEY'RE NOT ALL WOMEN.

5 Sephora employees, 2 of them male, pose in front of a display in a Santa Monica store
Rebecca Sapp/Getty Images

While many of Sephora’s employees (and customers) are women, you can still find plenty of men in the store. “I have three beautiful amazing super talented drag queens on my artistry team," Kaitierehh says. “At one of my previous stores, I even had two straight boys on my cast.” At Carpluk’s store in New York City, the employee ratio is almost 50/50 males to females. “We have a lot of men that work with us,” she says. “We even have a lot of male clients come in. I recently did a small makeover for an actor—I walked him through how to use foundation and concealer.”

9. THEY’RE HAPPY TO GIVE YOU FREE SAMPLES …

Sephora is generous when it comes to free samples, and employees fully embrace the store’s bighearted policy. “I love to give out samples,” Carpluk says. “We’re there to help and to give out as many [samples] as possible. If you’re having trouble choosing between two foundations, we want you to take them home and try it out.” Typically, employees stick to giving three samples to each customer, but some are happy to give even more. “Anything we can squeeze into a container is the easiest—think foundation, primer, skin care,” littleboots says. “We can make a sad attempt to scrape out lip gloss or cut off a piece of lipstick too, it’s just not as effective.”

10. … BUT THE STORE’S GENEROUS RETURN POLICY CAN IRRITATE THEM.

A selection of makeup on display at a Sephora store in Beverly Hills, California
Joe Scarnici/Getty Images

Sephora’s return policy lets customers return anything (even "gently used" products) up to 60 days after buying it for a full refund, and customers who return items without a receipt get full store credit. While customers love the flexibility of trying products and returning them, some Sephora employees get frustrated when customers abuse the return policy. “I’ve seen entire articles written about how to take advantage of Sephora’s generous return policy by returning half used products and shades when the trends change and you get tired of them,” writes Ivy Boyd, who worked her way up at Sephora from a Product Consultant to Senior Education Consultant. “It infuriates me, to be honest, and is a very entitled attitude. When items are returned used, they are damaged out. They are destroyed. They go to complete waste.”

11. THEY MIGHT NOT WEAR MAKEUP WHEN THEY’RE OFF THE CLOCK.

Sephora employees are passionate about makeup, but many of them choose to go barefaced on their days off. Besides saving time by skipping makeup, they can give their skin and pores much needed time to “breathe” without being smothered in products. Not all employees forego makeup on their days off, though. “Every single day of my entire existence I wear makeup,” Carpluk admits.

12. THEY LOVE MAKING PEOPLE FEEL CONFIDENT.

A male Sephora employee applies powder to a seated woman holding a mirror and smiling at her reflection
Steve Jennings/Getty Images

Besides scoring free products and getting paid to work with makeup, Sephora employees love making people feel confident and beautiful. Whether they help a customer with acne find a good concealer or boost the self-confidence of someone with the right mascara, Sephora employees know the importance of self-image and the power of makeup to transform. “That’s actually why I feel happy going to work ever day,” Carpluk says. “A lot of women haven’t heard how beautiful their skin is, or how sparkly their eyes are, or that their lips are their best feature. I try to compliment my clients as much as possible throughout the service to let them know how gorgeous they are.”

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios