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Made in the Shade

One woman's search for her favorite threads turned up a cool business.
Magazine Contributor
2 min read

This story appears in the May 2007 issue of Entrepreneurs StartUps Magazine. Subscribe »

Lisa Saunders had been a fan of Shade Clothing for about a year when she moved from Southern California to Calgary, Alberta. But in her new home, she had a difficult time finding Shade's line of shirts, which is designed to be both modest and stylish. In her search, however, she discovered a way to fill her own clothing needs and those of other women in Canada--by becoming a Shade Clothing personal shopper. "You need to feel strongly and passionately about what you're selling," she says. "I knew I loved Shade."

Shade Clothing began its personal shopper program in March 2006, but the program wasn't available in Canada. Saunders knew it could be successful there, so she contacted the corporate office and worked with them to get the program up and running, eventually becoming the first Canadian personal shopper in June 2006. She's also a hiring manager, in charge of recruiting and training new personal shoppers in her area.

For Saunders, 32, Shade Clothing provides the double benefit of giving her access to clothes she likes and letting her earn money while raising her two children at home. But her biggest challenge, she says, has been getting the word out about Shade. To target her main audience--women and girls--she posts fliers at preschools, elementary schools and women's gyms.

She also relies, of course, on word-of-mouth generated by her in-home parties, where women try on samples and ask her advice. These parties, called home showcases, are Saunders' main source of sales. Saunders can even host parties over the phone, allowing her to have customers in other locations and run her business while she travels. "You can sell to anyone, anywhere," she says. Though the parties are her main focus, Saunders can also make sales through open houses, internet sales and personal shopping appointments.

Saunders recognizes that her business is about more than just making a sale; getting repeat business and good word-of-mouth are vital to direct-selling success. "I want all customers to feel appreciated, whether they're placing a $30 order or a $300 order," she says. With that goal always in mind, Saunders projects 2007 sales will reach at least $60,000.

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