Too busy to go to a mall, but not too busy to shop. These are the customers who are the prime targets for sales representatives who sell clothing out of their homes.
“There are so many working women with no time and disposable income who like to shop this way,” said Nan Lawson, consultant for Etcetera, a line of clothing that she describes as “pre-couture.”
This is Lawson’s first year as a consultant. At the beginning of every season, she receives a sample “trunk” of the new fashions. She then sends out invitations for prospective customers to come to her home to try on the new styles.
Lawson said that she sends out about 200 invitations and tries to book 40 to 50 appointments each week. She has a core group of women who always seem to come back.
“After a while, I get to know them and what they like,” said Lawson, who can almost predict which new styles will appeal to which customers.
“I think, this is Julie’s color, or Mary will like this. I have an 80 percent success rate with that,” Lawson said.
Etcetera is not the only line of clothing sold through consultants in their homes. Along with longstanding firm Dooncaster, there is also a brand new line that was introduced to Alexandria last month. The Nina McLemore Fall Collection is a collection of designer clothing for women that focuses on beautiful fabrics, simple styles, fabulous color and great fit.
“We developed the line to fill a void in the marketplace,” said founder and CEO Nina McLemore who lives in Washington. “Most retail stores lack elegant clothes for busy women. Our typical customers have demanding professional lives, commitments to civic and philanthropic organizations, and travel frequently. Their schedules take them from the office to an evening out, the airplane to the boardroom, and from meetings to fundraisers. With all the challenges these women face each day, what to wear shouldn’t be one of them.”
MCLEMORE SAID THAT HAVING GROWN UP IN MISSISSIPPI, she understands the Southern climate and the elegant Southern style. She has been a successful working woman for over 30 years, having founded Liz Claiborne Accessories in 1980 and developing it into an almost $200 million company.
The fall line of the Nina McLemore collection was shown this month by Martha Manson, longtime Alexandria resident, volunteer and mother of three grown children, who recently joined the company. Martha has been in the fashion business for years, and also serves in various volunteer positions.
“This line is targeted to professional women—no fringe, no frills,” said Manson, who also sells other product lines. “I’m new to Nina, but this is already my favorite. These clothes are timeless, travel well, and look elegant on a variety of shapes and sizes. I’ve studied the line and it really is different. I’m thrilled to offer this collection to the women of Alexandria.”
Nina McLemore, who was at Manson’s home for the opening day, said, “With her business and community background, Martha is perfect for this. The minute I opened the door [into her home], I knew it would be perfect.”
“This has become the way most of our friends shop,” Manson said. “The reason I decided to sell direct is because women don’t like shopping. They’re too busy.”
Manson said that the Nina McLemore is different from other lines, and said, “They’re simple, unadorned and sleek. You can put yourself together quickly. They’re great for global travel because they don’t wrinkle and travel well.”
That concept was perfect for one of Manson’s customers, Laurie Williams, who was off to Paris and needed something special, but durable. Gail Camalier, Alexandria realtor, was shopping for three fall weddings, one of which was in North Carolina. Harriet Lankford was trying to decide on several different jackets.
McLemore said that she gets her wool from Italy, tweeds from Scotland, silks from China, and hand-woven fabrics from India. Each piece emphasizes easy care and ability to wear with other colors. The Collection has a complete line of timeless jackets that can transform an outfit from day to evening. All pieces are sold separately and range in price from $65 to $900. Generous sizes range from 2 to 16.
<ro>Where & When:
<1st>For more information about Etcetera, call 703-765-4515. For more information about Nina McLemore, call 703-370-6366.