We’re all dreamers. Whether we intend on becoming doctors, butchers, movie stars or fashion icons, we all begin with a little sparkle of hope that one day those aspirations will come to fruition. At French Cuff Consignment, we believe that no dream is “too big” or “too wild,” for without one, FCC might have never seen the light of day. If it weren’t for Corey De Roo and her mother Darcy’s dream to open their own boutique where the products are high-end, the service is exceptional, and the prices are the very definition of fair, I wouldn’t be here typing this blog!
A picture of Corey D. with Leticia Ordaz of NBC KCRA CH 3 News! Making our presence known!
With Corey’s help, FCC has advanced from ground zero to a profitable company with loyal clientele, both local and worldwide as an eBay Power Seller. Corey has coordinated all advertising, public relations, events, and marketing, including email campaigns, mailings, social media. She directs the creative process of the company website, manages all display and visual merchandising, and has created all consignment and layaway policies. Thanks to Corey’s connections and involvement in the community, FCC has been featured on all major TV stations in the Sacramento area: ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX 40 News, Univision Spanish TV, Good Day Sacramento, and Save with Dave
. We’ve also been featured in major publications and local blogs such as: Sacramento Bee, Sactown Magazine, Sacramento Magazine, SacPress.com, Sacramento Business News, Midtown Monthly, The Davis Enterprise, Twin Soup blog, Juniper James blog, Citizen Rosebud blog
to name a few. In 2011, French Cuff was also filmed for a segment of HGTV’s House Hunters.
Corey lending a helping hand while HGTV’s “House Hunters” films in the Sacramento boutique!
So what’s it like to be the boss lady for a rapidly growing small retail business? How does she go about it all, from choosing staff to maintaining great sales to staying open amid a mess of competition? And just how stressful is it? I recently sat down with Corey herself to pick her brain about it all, and from the session came invaluable advice and information for not only me, but for hopeful retail job seekers, employers, and other small business owners alike! Read the interview, and you’ll understand why FCC is the growing business it is today.
1. What type of experience do you, as an employer, see among hopeful job applicants?
I see applicants with a very wide range of experience and skills. These days employers such as myself are looking for applicants who have more to offer the company than just a solid resume with great work experience. We are looking for “other” skills such as marketing, media relations, blogging, social media, photography, eBay/Etsy/Pinterest/Polyvore (or other new online trends), in addition to general retail and customer service experience. Also, I have found that those with little-to-no work experience have a harder time appreciating what it’s like to work for a smaller business where your voice is heard, your opinions matter, and everything you do can have a positive (or negative) effect on the business’ overall success. Employees who have worked retail at large companies appreciate the lack of bureaucracy, and the opportunities to learn and grow more in a smaller business.
2. Are there ways to obtain this experience prior to working in the field?
I believe that anything and everything you can do to make yourself a more valuable employee is critical to your success as an individual. I have found that younger employees are expecting management jobs to be handed to them, simply because they are “next in line” but it still boils down to business – either you have the skills or you don’t. Employers are looking for employees who are eager to grow and learn as individuals, highly motivated, because that usually translates into a motivated dedicated employee as well. Those are the people who climb the ladder the fastest.
3. Do successful applicants need additional experience besides educational and experiential requirements to break into the field?
Anything you can do to make yourself a better employee and a better person is critical! Retail (or anything in the fashion world) is all about sales – whether you are selling pre-made clothes, your own designs, or your services, it doesn’t matter – sales are still sales. The more life experiences you have, the more ability you have to make a personal connection with others; and THAT’S how business gets done!
4. What are the key personal characteristics for success in this field?
For me it’s really simple: I won’t go down without a fight! You’ve got to be tough, and be able to stand up for what you believe is best for your business. It’s a dog eat dog world – and the retail field is no different – always keep your eye on the ball, know what your goals are, and never lose sight of your competition! (And even watch those who you may not consider direct competition, because it’s a fight for customers’ attention!)
5. What advice or suggestions would you offer to to someone considering going into the field?
Work as hard as you can, and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Educate yourself, and don’t expect success to happen just because you own a business. Success doesn’t happen overnight, and expect to work harder (and longer hours) than you ever have before. It’s not child’s play – it’s the real deal! Join a professional group who can support you and help you with the tough questions that your friends and family may not have the answers to, but also know what you ought to be expecting for a business your size: Know what other businesses are doing, sales-wise, per square foot, how much per hour in sales should your employees be selling, etc. Anything to make comparisons so you know whether you are succeeding or not.
6. What are the greatest pressures, strains or anxieties in this field?
I always say “It’s not like you apply for a business license and someone hands you a ‘How to…’ manual.” When you own a business, you are expected (the government expects you) to know EVERYTHING: Income tax/sales sax laws, employment law, accounting/money management, business law, the legalities surrounding your field (in our case, counterfeit products), personnel management, time management, marketing, online sales, etc. It’s a very long list! These can be challenges, as sometimes it’s a moving target. But honestly – it’s about more than just opening your doors, and waiting for customers to come in. I recently went on a vacation to Hawaii, and even though I have fantastic, highly-trained, and college-degree educated employees, there were still questions, and even while on vacation, I answered between 45-75 emails per day. I feels a bit like I’m married to my business sometimes, and I can never really get away! I’ve learned through lots (and lots and lots…) of mistakes – Everyone makes mistakes, and expect to make some! But it’s what you do with those mistakes that help shape your future!