Many moons ago I worked as a wardrobe consultant servicing the Rock Stars of the Christian and Country Music Industry. This job landed in my lap because it was a commission only position. The owner offered individuals the opportunity to prove themselves in six weeks. The first day on the job I was handed a black book by the owner. He said, “This will be your bread and butter, you must become a relationship expert!” There were seven consultants total with several being in the Haute Couture business for many years. I was the rag doll of the group. They made fun of everything from the way I talked (southern girl) to the clothing warn to work each day. If you have never worked commission only, this is the typical environment in the beginning. It is a very ‘prove your worth our time’ mentality before individuals are accepted into the pack.
Every morning for the first week, I would break out into sweats wondering how to convince a potential client to purchase couture from a small town farm girl. On the fourth day, one of the ladies sat down beside me in the client room. She said, “No one is your friend and it is up to you to win over the clients in that black book.” She stood up, smiled, and walked away. As I opened the book to make the very first calls introducing myself to the clients, I noticed one particular name that made my heart race at the site of it — Donna Summer. Could it be the person that I spent countless hours as a young girl dressing up with my sisters and singing her songs? I stood up and raced into the room where all the wardrobe consultants were standing. Please tell me this is the one and only Donna Summer (voice squeaking). Every one of them made comments such as “I tried with no success” or “She can shop anywhere and will never come here” or “I could not get her to come in, so how do you expect to do it?”
That night all I could think about was speaking to Donna Summer, hearing about her life, her experiences, her failures, her successes, what she likes to eat, what types of movies she likes, and most importantly, becoming her wardrobe consultant. But—how? I had a moment of epiphany—find a mentor. The next morning I arrived with a bucket full of determination to achieve this goal. I marched in to where all the other consultants were sitting for our daily morning sales meeting. I proclaimed, “My number one goal is to acquire Donna Summer as a client. Who will help achieve this goal?” Of course, they all laughed for several minutes. Then, one of the tenured consultants let everyone know that she would be my mentor.
Several months were spent shadowing this consultant, as she worked with high profile clients within the community. These clients looked to her as a life coach, as she was able to give them solid advice on everything from wardrobe consultation to relationship counseling. I watched her engage with them with an inner passion to make each one look and feel like a million bucks. She had become a true rock star within the Haute couture industry. And, she went on to open a custom tailored wardrobe company that services professional clientele till this day.
After 6 months of shadowing, I was determined more than ever to obtain Donna Summer as a client. I walked back to the client room and sat down with the black book. My palms were sweaty with the thought of picking up the phone and dialing the number. What if she answers the phone? What will I say to her? Why would she ever want to speak with me? A small town farm girl that wore rags most of her young life. She doesn’t want to speak with someone that had never been to a concert, or, dined at an expensive restaurant. She would hang up the phone; as soon as she found out I was a fraud. I was just beginning to understand the words “Aubergine and Chiffon.” My mentor walked in the room and placed her hand on my shoulder, smiled, and walked away. That is all I needed. If she thinks the time has come to call Donna Summer, then it is time to make the call!
Part II: The Fortunate Rock Stars Blessed by a Mentor will be shared next week. Come back to hear more about how a mentor can impact the life of another through empowerment, encouragement, and shared knowledge that gives the individual the tools needed to believe in self in order to achieve success.