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

FIRST, LOVE WHAT YOU DO, SECOND, GET PAID DOING IT

by, Colleen Szot

This is an excerpt from Unlocking The Secrets of Successful Women (story collector, Joan Kennedy)

 

“I knew I would be a writer from an early age, and I sold my first article for a dollar at the age of nine. Throughout my adolescence and well into my twenties, I wrote articles for a host of well-known publications: Scholastic, Teen, Highlights, later Redbook, Esquire, Ladies Home Journal. I discovered if I researched and wrote an article with no timeframe attached to it, any newspaper would jump on it, rather than have a reporter do all the legwork. Plus by selling to newspapers around the country, I kept the copyright and the byline and could sell the same article several times over. I wrote stories about the first Christmas tree, the tradition on Christmas cards, the History of St. Patrick’s Day, why fireworks and the Fourth of July are so closely related and many, many more.

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I went on to write thirty to forty TV scripts for The Bob Newhart Show, All in the Family, One Day at a Time, and Rhoda. But of those thirty plus TV scripts, I only sold seven or eight. If Redbook rejected an article I had submitted, dozens of other publications would accept my story. But with TV, you simply can’t take a script for All in the Family and re-write it for MASH.

I discovered advertising –or, rather, it discovered me. I was freelancing at a radio station when they asked me to do a public Service Announcement for an anti-drug campaign, which, meant I wouldn’t get paid.I said sure. I did, and coined the phrase, “Don’t be a dope about dope,” which became, “Why do you think they call it dope?” It was parodied on Saturday Night Live, and LL Cool J wrote a song titled, “Why Do You Think They Call it Dope?” You never know where an opportunity can lead.

I went on to work for some top agencies in Chicago. I994, I decided to open my own freelance company. I returned to TV and decided to specialize in Direct Response, creating one-or two minute TV spots featuring an 800#. I was blessed to cut my teeth with the Iconic Nordic Track brand. I have written four George Foreman Grill Shows, countless more for Sleep Number bed, Oreck, AARP, Sharper Image, Tony Robbins, Sony Pictures and many, many more. I wrote the first-ever infomercial for Deepak Chopra, and other shows for Olivia Newton John, Joan Lunden, Kathy Lee Gifford, Mark Victor Hansen (Chicken Soup for the Soul), and a dozen more celebrities.

The lesson here is to never pass up an opportunity. If you’re an up-and comer, take on occasional spec work, ask for copies of the published or broadcast work, and always, always ask for written testimonials. I have dozens on my website, and even some on my client reel.

Think of writing as something to help you earn a living. Research what free-lance writers are charging on an hourly or per-project basis, and build your professional portfolio to showcase your (paid) talents.

Let’s say you love decorating or touring houses. Did you know you can get paid for writing up creative house descriptions for real estate companies? Are you a foodie or just someone who enjoys gourmet food? Get paid for writing restaurant menus or reviews – enjoy some of the best meals in your town. Are you spiritual? Many ministers and pastors pay for someone to write their sermons, or a column in the church newspaper. There’s also a growing market in writing blogs. Many CEOs, artists, speakers, and other people, simply don’t have the time to write their own blog, so they give a freelance writer a list of topics and pay to have them penned.

What are you passionate about? Find it, follow it and do it, and you’ll never regret it.

The key to success: Success to me was and is doing something I love to do and get paid.

For more information on Colleen, visit:
http://www.wonderfulwriter.com

photo credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/liviacristinalc/3402221680/”>Lívia Cristina</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;