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Etcetera Clothing Line proves luxury fashion can be big business
Jan '10
When Nanette Lawson decided to leave her 20 year practice as a well-respected CPA in Alexandria, VA, she did something unusual she started her own business representing the Etcetera clothing line. She made this decision with all of the precision and due diligence you'd expect from an accountant.

As Lawson and many other professional women like her yearn for different work challenges and more flexible schedules, many are transitioning into the unknown terrain of direct sales.

Shopping Around for Something New

"These are women who have had successful careers in other fields but always knew they had the potential to use their skills in other ways," says Mary Alice Heape, president of Etcetera, who started out as a direct sales wardrobe consultant herself. "As they look at direct sales, they look at the money they can make; the prestige, quality and professionalism of the brand and those associated with it; the support infrastructure and the time commitment that comes with a season-driven business. Our best sellers have been with us for over 5 years largely because Etcetera continues to meet and exceed their high standards."

While direct sales is often viewed as a hobby or fast way to make extra income, Etcetera sellers see it as a sophisticated business that gives women the opportunity to own their own businesses. Top sellers earn up to six-figure incomes based on selling the line seasonally and cultivating a loyal client following.

Deciding What Fits

With her eyes wide open, Nanette Lawson's evaluation process in making a change in career to direct sales included the following three-step process:

1) A brand worthy of her personal & professional reputation

"I had to feel confident that associating myself with this collection would not damage my hard-earned reputation. The Etcetera collection is truly distinctive, while also being a good value for women who are used to quality. I was very pleased to attach my professional and personal reputation to the line," says Lawson.

2) A proven product & support Infrastructure

Women should pick a company that can truly teach them the ropes and support their growth through training and infrastructure. Before she changed careers, Lawson made sure Etcetera and its parent company, The Connaught Group, were run professionally. "The Connaught Group goes to amazing lengths to support their sellers. The tools and support provided assist consultants in marketing and managing their own businesses. As a CPA, I love that they provide strong back-end operations like accurate customer invoicing and order fulfillment. Whenever I have questions, I've got direct access to professional support staff. The management also fosters a professional development process to help consultants continue to grow and refresh their business strategies based on changing technology and trends."

3) A safe level of Entrepreneurial flexibility

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