It can be difficult to change careers at any stage of your life. When you have been so used to working the way one industry works then it can be a massive challenge to start fresh in something different. The culture in each industry is varied and there is jargon, experiences and traditions that sometimes have to be followed but sometimes have to be completely ignored if you are to be successful.
Linda opened the first Plus Factor store in 2010 after a lifetime of working in financial services. Aside from customer service standards these two industries are far apart. In financial services, quality comes as standard. Linda has found a real challenge in getting hold of quality well-made clothes and really wants those that she sells to be made in Canada. Thankfully over time, with the fact that the plus size fashion industry is starting to boom, this search has become easier. Linda has now expanded to having four Plus Factor stores and the future may well bring more.
The business was built up over time, but any startup is vulnerable in the first few years. Linda cites her own drive and ambition as the major factor in turning one store into two, then three and now four and possibly beyond. She offers a popular reward program for customers and they have responded to this in an overwhelmingly positive way. It allows Linda to keep track of a customer’s purchase history and she can offer them deals and promotions based on what they have bought in the past. Technology is a great way to keep up with your customers and entice them to return.
Linda actually found that she began to embrace her own curves after opening her first store. It was at this time that she began to appreciate that she really wanted to make a success of the business for herself. Business can succeed or fail on the back of many factors but determination to make it big is something that can’t be taught or transferred from one person to another. Linda is determined to make it and she now has companies in New York and other fashion centers interested in the items she produces.
The business stands out from the crowd because it offers a high level of customer service. To be able to give customers that extra level of service really counts in the fashion world and retailers can stand or fall on the way they make their customers feel. Linda understands her customers because she lives a similar life to them. She can offer service that shows her level of understanding and this gets her customers to be loyal to her stores and return time and time again. She can take time out to guide a customer through outfits that suit their body type. This becomes a win-win situation as the customer feels better about herself and Linda gains another loyal customer.
So what advice does Linda give to budding plus size retail entrepreneurs? She says “follow your dreams but make sure that you educate yourself in the skills that you will need to move the business forward.” She states that she uses a good financial person to take care of that side of the business for her. To have your bills paid on time is a must in business and you need to look after your suppliers as well as you look after your customers. She sells quality clothes that speak to her specific clients and this enables the stores to be a success.
The success that Linda has been able to make of her stores is a great story. Her attention to detail when it comes to the happiness of her customers is why she is perfect for FabUplus mag. The plus size fashion industry needs more pioneers like Linda to make sure that this is not a passing fad and becomes a part of the mainstream. The fashion world needs to understand that there are women out there of all shapes and sizes that need quality stylish clothing. As long as there are people like Linda out there, doing great things, then this will be more and more likely to happen.