I've shared before that I'm a recovering sales failure.
Some of you knew me when I feebly attempted to sell with another company years ago. I never felt super comfortable, and concluded sales just wasn't for me. Meanwhile, I saw others dip their toe into direct sales only to be disappointed and fizzle out. And so when I joined Noonday, it was in spite of it being sales; I figured overcoming my past and my fears was a matter of prayer and guts, which I could do, for the sake of the artisan partners whose work I would be supporting. After all, the whole point of fair trade is growing opportunity through business, and sales is an essential part of making that happen. Someone's gotta do it, and it was a way for me to engage in the fair trade movement right in my own neighborhood.
A year into this business I found myself in a room with other fair trade vendors who were in town for Madison's Fair Trade Holiday Festival. At this social mixer, another entrepreneur lit up when I said I was with Noonday. You see, Noonday is well-respected in the FT world for the impact and growth felt at our artisan partners. She didn't know how our sales model worked, though. How has Noonday been so impactful? she asked. I found myself enthusiastically claiming that dreaded, baggage-laden term - Direct Sales - because I believe it's a powerful model that is key to our growth - and, in turn, the artisan businesses' growth.
That power lies in gathering and relationship, in hostesses and ambassadors. You see, not everyone seeks out a brick-and-mortar store or an online shop selling fair trade goods. But when a woman is invited to share a glass of wine and a fun evening with friends, she shows up - and there, she sees beautiful handmade items, and I have a platform for casting a vision to her in a way that's more relational than you would find in most sales models. A vision of using our spending money, not just our giving money, to create a better world. The vision that if we're buying a necklace or a handbag, it's amazing to know we can do so in a way that is impactful, that helps a mama feed her baby, helps bring economic independence to a woman in an abusive relationship, and more. The trunk show guest gets to not just shop, but enjoy a shopping experience.
When we gather, there is power. We gather at trunk shows around purpose and style. We gather around stories and friendship. We see gorgeous handiwork up-close, trying it on, playing with it, laughing, admiring, connecting across the globe and across the living room. We know that when that package arrives in the mail, it will contain something we can cherish, for its aesthetic beauty and the beauty that comes through story and impact.
Being right in the thick of this is one of the things I love most about my job. Embracing my role as not just the "sales lady" but the connector and storyteller has made all the difference in the world. It's shown me why direct sales, when it's a good fit, can be an amazing career option. I am honored to be in sales, showing off gorgeous pieces and engaging customers with this brand and this movement. I get to partner with a hostess so that together we can engage people in a powerful way. I love my hostesses, and seeing many of them host two or even three shows already shows that they find it to be a meaningful experience!
It's amazing that I went from joining *in spite of* this being a "sales" job, to embracing it with joy, maintaining energy and excitement that haven't waned, several dozen trunk shows in.
And now, my trunk shows will expand and evolve: starting July 1, we will begin offering online trunk shows! For local hostesses, I will continue emphasizing the in-person show, which just can't be beat. But having an online hosting option for those living afar will offer a way for them, too, to partner with me in creating impact.
The challenge, of course, is that in a live video I can't fully convey the beauty of the products, and we miss out on the all-important eye contact. But I'm ready to use the power of online tools to spread the word far and wide, and engage with you the best way I can!
And you know what? Whether a show is in person or online, there is one key component that makes it a success: the hostess. I don't take it lightly that a hostess is sharing her friends with me, trusting me to show them a fun and meaningful time. When she shares her excitement and engages her friends, across the kitchen island or through her computer screen, she is creating a space of belonging where something beautiful can happen. So beautiful, in fact, that the barrier of miles and screens can't stand in our way!
If you've been to a trunk show, what was the experience like for you? If you've hosted, what made you say "yes"?
If you're local, will you share a few hours with me to create a marketplace for artisan business, have fun with friends, and earn Noonday? Do you wish to support an adoptive family with an adoption show?
If you're not local, will you say "yes" to gathering friends online for a shopping experience with impact? Let's set a date!
Learn more about hosting here and contact me (firstname.lastname@example.org) to get started!