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Challenge Yourself and You Will Grow


     Suitcase packed.  Long lists of reminders left for my family.  Dread towards the six-hour drive (I despise car trips).  Nervousness about the amount of orders I will write this trip.  The mom guilt.  The uncertainty of whether I will be satisfied with what I find.  And here it is….the anxiety of whether I will find the courage to go to floor 9 and 11!  Omg!

Let me start by sharing a little bit about AmericasMart Atlanta and the Apparel Market.  This is a huge building.  When I say huge, I mean huge.  There are 13 floors and I couldn’t even begin to tell you how many brands are set up during the markets.  Was I overwhelmed the first time I attended one of these markets?  Of course, I was.  Was I overwhelmed the second and third time?  Yes, I was.  Then, I became familiar and went on with my routine, but always finding myself exploring and discovering new and exciting things. Each time I left to head home, I felt a little more confident, but also a little disappointed.
 
Why the disappointment?  Well, every time I attended, I didn’t take myself seriously.  It wasn’t others that didn’t take me seriously, it was me and only me.  I would say to myself or out loud to others,  “Well, I am just an online store”, or “I am a new business”.  I would exhaustedly sift through rack after rack with a slight hesitation as to whether I should be there or not. And I was certainly not going to go up to floor 9 and 11!


     Definitely, not going up to floor 9 and 11!  I am just an online store.  I am a new business.  Those floors are for established larger clothing retailers that are most likely a brick and mortar store.  They are more important and I don’t have the budget for that.  I will certainly encounter a Pretty Woman moment.  Pretty Woman is still one of my favorite movies, but I did not want to walk into a showroom and be treated like I wasn’t worthy and be turned away.   I will stay to my lower level floors where I am more comfortable.  I was not going to be Julia Roberts before her fairy tale ending.

     I decided to pack extra clothes in case I wanted to stay a day longer to feel less rushed scanning the thousands and thousands of clothes.  I decided to stay that extra day, because although I found great product, I was not completely satisfied.  You should know that I truly spend hours and hours finding the perfect product to bring to my online boutique.  It needs to be perfect.  It needs to be trendy, yet classy and stylish, yet comfortable.  I may spend two hours searching through clothing and find one piece that matches the style I want to bring to my customers.  By the end of each day, I would have the same thought in my head.  What if I am missing out and what if I might be able to find additional great product on floor 9 and 11?

     The next day was the day!  The day I would escalate myself up to floor 9 and 11.  I have this extra day and I will take advantage of it.  I told myself over and over again that I must challenge myself.  We learn from new challenges whether they are successful or not.  It can’t hurt to look up there and just take a peek.  So I did.  Not only did I meander past the other brave souls headed upward, I found myself in a showroom.        

    It was one I researched the night before that had brands I had heard about.  Brands I had seen before on racks.  Brands that I desired to figure out how to order product from.  The showroom was practically empty.  It turns out that although the lower levels are still quite busy on the last day of the market, the showrooms on floor 9 and 11 were not.  I learned that this is the norm as things settle down and as they prepare to move on to the next market.  Maybe this was my chance to ask questions and get the confirmation that I should just slither my way back downstairs.  I was Julia Roberts, minus the stripper outfit, as I walked over to the first person I could locate.  I began my conversation telling her that I was just looking to expand the brands I offer.  I told her that I wanted to see if this showroom might be a good fit and then maybe I could make an appointment to view the product at the next market. 

I walked out that showroom, not scolded, not embarrassed, and not running as fast I could in my non stripper outfit.  I walked out an hour after I entered with my head held high.  I felt good.  I felt confident.  I felt my wallet a little heavier, but not as I was expecting.  I was treated wonderfully.  Not only did she take the time to answer my questions, she gave me time to look at all of the inventory and did not judge me when looking at price tags was my priority at that moment.  I now felt like Julia in the second half of Pretty Woman.  I was accommodated and catered to.  Full attention was on me and my little online business.  Not only did she reassure me that there was inventory within my budget, she talked about how much she loved online businesses.  She even looked up my website on the spot and further complimented me.  It was genuine and didn’t feel fake or as if she was just buttering me up for a great sale.  We wrapped up our business and I walked out of that showroom on floor 9 with my order.

      What I learned from this experience, but didn’t have the confidence to pursue was to challenge myself.  Take a chance.  Succeed and fail.  Learn from that experience.  And that’s what I did.  But, what if I had not travelled up the seemingly long ride up to floor 9?  I would not have gained the confidence and knowledge that I need to take my small online business to the next step towards success.  Thank you, floor 9!  You will be seeing a lot of me at my next market.

 

Coming soon….a blog all about why I chose to start an online boutique.

 


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