One event and four thoughts

That was a very interesting Saturday morning – and a very pleasant one. Some weeks ago a work colleague sent an invitation for an event. It was one of these rural, charity, fashion show, home baked killer-cakes, community centre happenings. A fashion show organised by Quills on behalf of the Suffolk Family Carers. Of course I was in!

Oh My! So many impressions; I don’t know where to start. It wouldn’t make sense to just describe the event. I guess they are very similar all over the world: a more or less affordable venue, a charity benefiting from the entry fee, the sale of coffee and home made cakes, and a percentage of the income of the market stalls, and some very enthusiastic people organising it all. This one was wrapped around a fashion show and clothes sale, plus a few stalls selling hand made scarves, handbags from China and make-up. And of course: There is always a raffle.

The above would be a very brief story; some might sniff at happenings like those while others just love them. Recently I have been attending other sales oriented occasions on a much higher spending level and what strikes me are the patterns that I can see on how these women network, how different they are, how similar their objectives, and how similar their approached to make things work. Although the target groups are different, the aims and the ways women go about their businesses are very similar – and very different to how a male would go about it. These are the things I am really interested in.

Well, and thus I decided to elaborate a bit on my thoughts and to make it a mini series of articles, adding one every week.

The first one is on ‘The Typecast Trap’ - The implications on how we see ourselves and how we are seen by others.

The second one is on 'Brilliant Business Women' - Making it big or not to make it big: That's the question!

The third one is on 'Nerds VS. Dilettantes' - Making a difference with networking.

Businesses with A Twist

Brilliant Business Women

Woman are brilliant – why aren’t more of them successful big style?

This is a question I really don’t have the answer to… well, I can see why the one or the other behaviour can be seen as a shortcoming compared to our male competitors in this male dominated business world. I’m just wondering how it happened that a male dominated business world developed in the first place. Women have such good ideas and ways to organize and plan their activities that the typical territorial male approach should have never come to such a success.

There obviously ARE women who do big business, but not as many as there are male business tycoons. When one is working for a company it might be hard to find a way up and through the glass ceiling, but when founding your own business I always thought that we should be able to outsmart the competition, we should not have to play their game and we should be able to establish our own rules to get to the top.

The question is: What is holding us back?

I recently observed two ladies taking the first steps into their own business and I am very keen to see what future is holding for them.

One is setting up her own boutique with Italian designer labels. She has connections to Italy and brought a small collection of things to her house, transformed her spare room into a little shop and her bedroom into a fitting room, had her husband to take care of the hospitality and to entertain the spouses of her customers who in this first sales event were her friends.

This is a typical female approach: combining different things into one event. Firstly, creating a safe environment for market research and secondly, having a good time with a nice bunch of people. Well, and she got some of her investment back. Not just ‘what’ but ‘how’ women shop, will always be on her mind when setting up the final location for the shop and atmosphere will always be a big thing.

The other one is setting up her own farm. I don’t know a lot of details, but I do know that she is having pigs and sheep and that she is producing her own goods working on unusual techniques like felting sheep wool into scarves. At the moment she is seen at charity events and fairs.

Again, she is combining completely different things. This is a good way to check out the market in a safe environment, she is supporting a good cause and has a bit of fun with a nice bunch of people.

This is the softest, warmest scarf I ever had. It might not be the most fashionable, but certainly one of the funniest.

The sheep are black and white - I think she said it's Jacob's sheep, so there is no dye used. And no, the hoofs are not indicating that a horse is involved.

Additionally I learned about another clothes store with a difference at the charity event. The owner of ‘Artichoke Collection’ is buying previous seasons clothes from designer labels focusing on the ‘grown up’ rural woman. So basically it is an outlet store. However, she is travelling charity events and fairs with her fashion show. During these events she is networking and advertising that she is bookable for events. Thus she is not only selling clothes, but offers an entertainment around which organizers can wrap their events. Again, she is combining different things in a fun way and is brilliant in creating an ‘open your purse for me’ atmosphere.

All three of these ladies are inspiring, with a lot of energy and the will to work hard for their success. They are smart; they have been working in other areas and have seen things. I am sure they will make a living with their businesses. However, I am not sure that they will create a business like Diane Keaton did in ‘Baby Boom’ .

I only can guess the reasons; since I have some issues that would hold me back. Oh all the ideas I had and still have… I admire these women for actually doing the step into businesswomen hood. I have a hunch that they take the joy and the satisfaction of the job from doing the actual stuff themselves. They don’t want to have a chain of shops because then they would be managing people rather then selling clothes, felting wool or feeding pigs.

If I had a business I would like to have the contact with my customers. I would need to see the sparkle in their eyes and the smile on their faces when I deliver the job or when they buy something that they really like. There is nothing better than to make a difference to someone’s life. Big companies do that, no doubt about that. They are not just selling a telephone, but contact to family and friends; not just a ball gown, but the feeling to be the most gorgeous woman at least for this one night. Sitting in their offices however, the owners of big companies just never really see this effect in people, and hence they all too often forget that this is their actual job.

I have a suspicion that these smart women tend to not go BIG because they are not willing to trade ‘big job satisfaction’ for ‘big money’.

And it is good that way!

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Copyright 2007
Author: Rika