“My competitors are strategic partners. I sell only used mannequins. I don’t have 10 identical mannequins. I refer these calls to my competitors who sell new mannequins and they send calls about rentals to me.”
Contests as Teachable Moments
“Contests are great tools. What they require is almost like doing your business plan, so it forces a lot of questions and soul searching. You can evaluate your business in a different way even if you don’t win. I enter at least two contests every year and usually win one.”
Sizing Up the Business Today
“At first, I ran the operation from my home. My basement and backyard were filled with mannequins! Now we have a 1,700-square-foot warehouse and offices in L.A. and New York. I have one full-time employee, one part-timer and eight independent contractors: a bookkeeper, web developer, IT specialist, attorney, business coach and warehouse assistants in LA and New York.”
The Future of ‘Madness’
“Our goal is to be the first national liquidator. We’re not there yet. We need a presence in the south and midwest. Eventually, I want stores to pay us to haul away mannequins like they haul away trash. With the move today towards banning plastic bags, there will come a time when you can’t throw mannequins away.”
Not Mad Money
“Our goal is to be a million-dollar business. By 2010, we see ourselves very close to that target. Revenue and profitability aren’t always the same. There’s a saying that profitability is an opinion but cash is a fact. Sometimes small can be beautiful. Managed growth is our key.”
“I can think of three books that have been beneficial to me. Use What You’ve Got by Barbara Corcoran is not just a biography of how she started her real-estate empire from her apartment but includes step-by-step strategies that apply to any business. Running your own business is rewarding but also requires a lot of guts to get through the tough times and this book illustrates this very clearly.
“Women Don’t Ask by Linda Babcock is fantastic book about how women are not as effective in negotiating as men are and how we can change that. Even though I have been in sales a long time and consider myself a good negotiator, after reading this book I realized how many opportunities I did not take full advantage of because I either did not think they were negotiable or I did not set my goals high enough.
“Organizing from the Inside Out by Julie Morganstern helped me realize that part of the reason I always felt overwhelmed in my business is not because I lacked talent or skills but because of my poor time-management skills. It helped me overcome the idea that I had to do everything instead of delegating or diminishing the scope of my involvement.”
Advice to Launchers
“Know there’s value to going outside of your comfort zone. When you go out and seek people and organizations outside your normal world, you discover opportunities and resources that wouldn’t have otherwise crossed your path.”
This Featured Lady was profiled by Andrea Adleman, a Los Angeles freelance journalist.