YourOnRamp interviews Boston-area based Colleen Peterson’s of Etcetera.
YourOnRamp: Colleen, how did you join ETCETERA?
Colleen Peterson: In 2004, as my younger daughter started first grade, and I started planning my return to the workforce after a six-year hiatus. My previous career had been in high-tech sales and marketing management for IBM and HR consulting sales management for Drake Beam Morin. While in the interview process for a full-time position, I received a postcard inviting me to an Etcetera trunk show. It was the Etcetera Fall/Holiday ’04 collection, and I fell in love with the clothes! And finding pants that were actually long enough? I was in clothes heaven!
At the show, I chatted with the consultant about her role as a small business owner and about Etcetera. For the next few weeks, I continued interviewing, but kept thinking about the Etcetera clothes I had loved and sales consultant I had met. I realized I was having a LOT of fun shopping and dressing for interviews, but dreaded the idea of returning to work full time. I wanted to continue my role as full-time mom but knew that I craved the responsibilities and rewards of the business world as well. More and more, I thought about the possibility of starting my own business and working out of my home.
In December, I asked for the name and phone number of the Local Area Development, and we set up a time to meet. She was awesome—I think I practically begged for the opportunity to sign up as an Etcetera sales consultant! Spring ’05 was the first collection I sold, and I took off running—determined to make it work.
YourOnRamp: Was it hard to get started?
Colleen Peterson: One of my first impressions of the Etcetera organization was how quickly help was provided when I needed it. The Etcetera infrastructure is invaluable—on-line order entry, our internal Web site, our external Web site, on-line accounts payable, full and complete sample sets, inventory tracking, consultant support reps and so much more. My career transition was so much easier knowing I didn’t have to worry about these crucial details—I could focus on helping women buy these gorgeous clothes!
The corporate culture encourages guided independence. As sales consultants, we run our own businesses; we make our own decisions about everything from mailing lists to invitations to showroom layouts to client deliveries to managing the books. But it’s guided in that if we want or need ideas or support on any aspect of our business, it’s available. And if it’s not available from Etcetera, it’s available from the network of sales consultants across the country.
YourOnRamp: What’s it like to be a wardrobe consultant?
Colleen Peterson: It’s so much fun. It combines fashion with image consulting, retail operations, sales, and marketing—with a dash of entrepreneurship thrown into the mix. I love that my clients call me with questions about almost everything—accessories, hem lengths, style choices, wardrobe advice, where to find shoes, foundations, and alterations ... anything! I’ve discovered I love the “consulting” part of the job as well as the “sales” part!
However, it is not for everyone. You must be willing to work hard to set and meet your own goals – important if you hope to make a decent profit. And although this is a part-time business, the hours can be long—especially immediately before and during shows. You must be comfortable reaching out to women as potential clients and inviting them to your trunk shows.
YourOnRamp: Describe a great client moment …
Colleen Peterson:One of my clients had often mentioned to me how much her grown daughter would enjoy the collection, but she lived in another part of the country and had a very limited budget for clothes. During a recent show, my client’s daughter was visiting, so she brought her along. Well, needless to say, her daughter loved Etcetera and showed considerable restraint in limiting herself to a few items.
Not long after, the daughter contacted me with good news—she was engaged! Her fiancé was from Paris, where they would be married in a very small ceremony with only a handful of guests. To my great delight, she chose Etcetera for her wedding outfit, and her mom did as well! I treasure the photos that she sent me, and have them on display in my showroom. And though she now lives in Paris, she checks out the collections on our Web site and emails me to order Etcetera. Together we choose what will look great on her and work best with her wardrobe!
YourOnRamp: Do you have a signature ETCETERA piece?
Colleen Peterson:My special piece is Fantasy, a beautiful embroidered turquoise velvet skirt from the Etcetera Holiday ’04 Collection. I started out wearing it with the Fig brown velvet jacket and Pacific turquoise silk tank for holiday events. Every time I wore that skirt, women would stop me to ask where I got it! Then, I switched the jacket out for Brownie, a great brown turtleneck from Fall ’07, and wore it with suede boots for a more casual cold weather option. This season, I plan to pair it with Temptation, our ruffled chocolate silk blouse, a new pair of “shooties” and opaque hose! I can’t wait for cold weather!
Boston-area based Colleen Peterson’s Etcetera Holiday Show kicks-off on Sept 25 and ends Oct 7th. If women want to book an appointment, all they need to do is send a note to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 972-733-6503. For women interested in exploring career opportunities with Etcetera please contact Director of Recruiting, Edie Dance at 850-484-8120 or email@example.com.