Today’s RetailWire discussion revolved around Brian Kilcourse’s shopping trip. The proprietor of Judi’s of Nevada City, a women’s wear store in North California, had just heard a speaker at a small business conference basically tell her, “You’re toast!”
That anyone would ever speak to a small business group and give that message — even if it is not said exactly — is bullshit.
I’ve done literally thousands of presentations to associations, chambers, and dealer networks — it is the last message anyone needs to hear: that retail is hopeless.
I am tired of the endless parade of pundits who seem to get glee out of giving this message.
And you know what? They’re usually men.
America runs on small business. Period.
When the small brick-and-mortar businesses go, so does your downtown shopping, and so does the chance of being able to get out and meet others. While we seem to be moving to a stay-at-home economy, there are still a huge number of brands dependent on the eyes and ears of the smaller businesses that make up the web of community.
Entrepreneurs don’t aspire to be the next Starbucks or Staples or Lululemon; they just want to dominate their own market. I think that dream is far from hopeless.
Today, Hubspot asked me what woman I admire as a salesperson. You can see their post What Does it Mean to Be a Woman in Sales? 16 Sales Experts Speak Outhere.
I thought about the women I know who are fearless, don’t take no for an answer, and are making community a reality.
Deanna Renda, who founded the Naples Soap Company back in 2009, is the woman in sales I picked because she’s funny, she’s passionate, and she’s committed to getting her product out there.
When she started out, she was a nurse; she didn’t have sales skills or any training. She simply wanted to cure her daughter’s skin condition. Deanna went to a variety of doctors but couldn’t find a solution that worked.
She educated herself about the causes of the skin disease and ended up formulating her own bar of soap especially designed for her daughter’s problem.
The product worked so well, she started selling it on weekends at farmer’s markets. That is in addition to her full-time job.
In time, she created her own lifestyle health and wellness radio show that ran for 4 years. In 2009, she opened her first store in Florida. She has since grown that to eight.
After all these years, she is still passionate about her business. When someone suggests she lower her prices to compete, she simply knows her products are better and passes on the opportunity.
And you know what? Her best selling product is still that original bar of soap. She is living proof that anybody can sell, as long as they are passionate about their product or service.
I could just as easily have picked Roberta Bonoff, the CEO of Creative Kidstuff in Minneapolis who is not afraid of a challenge. You can read how we came to work together here.
Since then she has expanded the brand in new ways at a time the big boys are running for cover. She created their own show The Happi House which is syndicated on Fox and crafted a mission that is to help repair the world. When you make a purchase at Creative Kidstuff, you can choose to make a contribution to a child in need — of shoes, a toy, a coat, or a book.
There are hundreds of examples of exceptional women in sales who are building community and hope. I’m proud to lift two retail sales stories up today.
Does it matter that we lift up women salespeople and women entrepreneurs?
Does it matter that we see films like Erin Brockovich and Norma Rae, or that we watch series like When We Rise which covered gay and lesbian history, or Roots which chronicled the history of an African man sold into slavery and his descendants?
I mean, aren’t we all the same?
Yes, we are.
But until stories are shared equally...
Until we are curious about every story and not just our own, we still need to hear that this is a different story.
Look, we’re all just sitting around a campfire looking for our opportunity to tell our story and most of all, to be heard.
That’s what happens in a brick and mortar store.
That’s what happens when we call out our heroes.
And today, they just happen to be women.
Whether you are a man or a woman, take Deanna’s story and others you will read today….
Go out there and try to find something you’re passionate about, and like Deanna, you can build a business like you never thought possible.