A Knack for Thrift Leads to a Career

The following is an excerpt from the book: Unlocking the Secrets of Successful Women

Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.

–Confucius

Michelle Dustin

One night in March 2011, when I was lying in bed, this idea just came to me. Excited, I jumped out of bed and ran to grab my laptop. I hurriedly typed an email to Laurel Hansen, the business director at Arc’s Value Village Thrift Stores. I told her about my idea, and asked if she would meet with me.

Laurel agreed to meet for coffee. Before our meeting, I did some research and put together a PowerPoint presentation explaining my idea, and why I was certain it would be a success. I felt such confidence and excitement, I didn’t even think about being nervous.

As we sat across the table from one another sipping piping hot coffee, I said to her, “High-end department stores offer free personal shopping services. Why can’t Arc’s Value Village offer this same type of VIP experience to its customers?”

I told her about the reaction I often received when I’d tell people about my thrift-store finds. The response was always the same, “I wish I could find things like that at thrift stores; I just don’t have the eye for it,” or “I get so overwhelmed at the thrift store, I just don’t have the patience to sift through all those racks.”

The PowerPoint presentation outlined how a personal shopping service could increase sales, drive brand loyalty, cultivate new customers, and set Value Village apart from other thrift stores. On the final slide, I listed several reasons why, I, Michelle Dustin, an avid thrift store shopper, was the one for the job. The last bullet point said simply, “She’s got the Gift of Thrift!”

Initially I was offered a six-month contract to test the viability of the service. Value Village sent out a press release promoting their complementary new offering. Esme Murphy of WCCO was one of the first to report on this novel thrift service. She scheduled an appointment and it was evident how amazed she was by the head-to-toe outfits hand selected just for her, the designer labels, and the rock bottom prices. Her overwhelming enthusiasm was worth its weight in gold. Moments after her story aired on WCCO, my email inbox quickly filled up, and my appointment schedule was booked up for months.

Lucky me! I now have a full-time career in which I am inspired, excited, and challenged every day. When I reflect on the path that’s gotten me here, I am reminded of a quote by the clothing designer, Diane Von Furstenberg, “I didn’t know what I wanted to do, but I always knew the woman I wanted to be.”

The woman I wanted to be is one who will follow her instincts, take risks, and blaze trails where there are none.

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“I didn’t know what I wanted to do, but I always knew the woman I wanted to be.”

For more information about Michelle:

PersonalShopper@theArcgtc.org

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Keys to Success

One of our success stories, Diane Keyes, shares her best keys to success. We are thrilled to have her as a guest blogger today – LAUNCH DAY!

Today’s Key to Success
By Diane Keyes – Award-Winning Author

communicationIn the new millennium, hard work is no longer the guarantee of success it was in the 20th century. Why? Today most business relies on the effective exchange of information—not physical effort.  And the single most important factor in the delivery of information is trust. People do business with those they like and trust. After all, if you can’t trust the source of information to tell you honestly what you need to know, what good is the information?

Today the key to success is relationship. How do you build relationships? The word “networking” instills fear and loathing in the hearts of many entrepreneurs because it conjures up evenings spent in activities no more meaningful than a game of musical chairs, where the last person standing without a business connection is out—out of luck, out of opportunity, and out of business. However, real networking is about something much different. The people who like networking and make it work for them and their business are not hooking up for an evening, they are on their way to forming lasting relationships, authentic friendships.

As a stager, I see realtors come and go, those who are only interested in the listing they can sign today, as well as those whose loyalty and excellence ensures their clients will return every time they move to a new home. One of the realtors who has used my staging service consistently for over twenty years called to say, “Diane, today is a red-letter day. This makes the fourth time I have sold this house in twenty-five years. You and I have created such a good relationship with the sellers each time the house has come up for sale every owner has chosen us.”

What are our secrets to creating long-lasting relationships?

  • Become a great listener.  Nothing is more crucial than understanding your clients and their needs.  Your ability to actively listen and reflect your client’s interests and desires will become your most important key to success.  Google “active listening” for more information.
  • Always put the customer’s needs ahead of your desire for profit. Once clients know you have their interests at heart—their trust in you will help them weather any business storms that may come along.      
  • Keep every promise you make. If you create honest expectations and consistently deliver, your clients will have every reason to remain loyal to you AND recommend you to others which is the KEY to great success.
About Diane:
diane keyesDiane is an award-winning author, home stager and inspirational success story. You can learn more about her at:
 
www.thissoldhouse.biz
www.spiritofthesnowpeople.com
www.ifbhomesale.com

Does Your Comfort Zone Keep Shifting?

Nadia Giordana is a featured success story in the book. We are thrilled to have her here as a featured guest blogger sharing her thoughts on comfort zone.

Does Your Comfort Zone Keep Shifting?
By Nadia Giordana – Author, Mentor, Motivator & Speaker
Visit Nadia’s website here.

Nadia GiordanaI don’t know about you, but my comfort zone keeps broadening and shifting. Those who know me personally, know that part of my success story revolves around having overcome a paralyzing fear of public speaking (and being on camera).

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that one of the reasons I set out to produce my own cable access TV show, was to keep myself speaking regularly without some of the inevitable surprises that come with appearing on a set over which I had no control. That doesn’t get me off the hook completely (I wouldn’t want it to).

Happily, I often do get asked to do things that take me outside of my comfort zone. One such occasion recently was co-hosting as a guest on SPNN’s “It’s A Woman’s World.” I enjoyed the entire experience, but was a bit nervous even though I had been in that studio two or three times before.

For most of us, it takes repetition to become comfortable. Once we are, then we must reach beyond what is comfortable and continue to stretch ourselves. This is how we grow. My list of fears used to be long. Lately, all I worry about is getting tongue-tied, or drawing a blank when it is my turn to speak. I can deal with it.

Think about this quote by Claire O’Connor:

“Do you have enough self-love to allow yourself to be a clumsy beginner?”

Share your thoughts  on the quote in the comments below.