It's something like a Mary Kay for men's shirts.
Dallas-based custom men’s clothing company J.Hilburn depends on a team of direct sellers, just like Mary Kay or Tupperware, but the similarities pretty much stop there.
“If we look at what J.Hilburn has to offer – which is very different from a lot of other direct sales [companies] in my opinion – we have a high-end product we are offering at a value price. And our customer is a guy,” says seller Susan Kantor, who lives in Westport, Conn. Additionally, the company doesn’t require sellers to buy or stock their own inventory, unlike most direct sales businesses.
Kantor, who has been working for J.Hilburn for the past three years, also may not strike most people as the type of woman to go into direct sales.
“I worked in banking security analysis, went and got my MBA,” says Kantor, who was most recently working at a consulting firm doing project management. She first heard about the company from another seller as she was looking for an opportunity that would provide her more flexibility to be with her three children.
“I had never really sold anything, except for waitressing to pay for college,” says Kantor. J.Hilburn’s training program taught Kantor how to measure clients for custom clothing, in addition to sales strategies.
Over the past three years, Kantor has quickly become one of the company’s standout sellers. In January, co-founder Veeral Rathod flew in to Connecticut to present Kantor with a white Lexus. It’s a reward for helping oversee a team of 50 sellers that consistently does more than $180,000 in sales per month.
And thanks to independent sellers like Kantor, the company is also exceeding its sales goals. Rathod says the company did $45 million in sales in 2013, up from $28 million the year prior.
Now, Kantor is focused on teaching other sellers how to mimic her success – in addition to getting her clients into J.Hilburn’s spring line.
“The best advice I could give to them would be to share your enthusiasm for what you’re doing,” says Kantor.
And, she adds, you need to have thick skin.
“[T]here are always some days someone is going to say, ‘No, I’m not interested,’” says Kantor. “You can’t take things personally … You have to look ahead, have a goal in mind and work toward that goal.”
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