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I got the job…

…and I’m a little bit shellshocked.  After everything that we’ve been dealt over the last two years, it really feels like things are turning around.  It’s crazy and awesome and scary and exciting, and I CAN’T WAIT.

This life is going to be so much fun.

Patches

My husband doesn’t know I blog.  And if he knew, he wouldn’t approve.  He thought my blogging about our wedding was inappropriate, and he hated having his picture out there on the internet.  I get it…he’s a private guy.

But sometimes, I need an outlet.  And if this is my outlet, so be it.

Nobody’s life is easy, I know that.  And sometimes, you go through more difficult patches than others.  I’ve been on a good stretch lately.  But it also seems as though just as things started to drift back in the positive direction, I started taking hits again.

The woman I work for refuses to consider giving raises.  When we try to logically approach her about earning more money, her response is always, “Sell more dresses.”  What have we been doing?  Oh, you know,  just selling more dresses.  We’re making her a lot of money, but she insists that she has none to give her employees.  However, there is plenty to install new windows, re-landscape the front of the store, and even sod her yard at home.

Also, I’m being considered for a new job.  A fabulous job.  A job that I really really want and would be awesome at.  So there’s that.

We want to have a baby, and that’s not working out so well so far.  I don’t want to get into details.  It makes me uncomfortable and sad.  I’m not ready to put my disappointment into physical words just yet.

And the hardest part – I’ve given my husband an ultimatum on something.  I hate ultimatums.  I don’t think they’re particularly effective, and they just serve to piss off all parties involved.  But I was backed into a corner, and I could not see any alternative.  Because he’s so private, I can’t give more detail.  But I do feel like I’m being tested, and I don’t know why.

So yes, while life is good, I’ve hit a bit of a rough patch.  I don’t like it, and I’m ready for it to be over.  Yes, this is all very “poor me,” and I apologize for that.  But sometimes, life is like that.  You have those moments, and you get past them, and looking back, you’re amazed at how strong you were.  I can’t wait to look back and see how strong I was in this instance.

Sales, Part One

Working in sales is a funny thing.  I never, in a million years, thought that I could be even a halfway-decent salesperson.

I was educated and trained to work in government affairs – to be a corporate lobbyist.  So, in a sense, I guess I was supposed to be selling something – ideas and policy proposals.  I’m a pretty smart person, and I knew what I was doing, but in my former career, I always felt like I was a couple of steps behind.  Maybe it’s because when it comes to politics, everyone has an opinion, and in a sense – everyone is an expert.  I’m not confrontational or argumentative.  I’m not partisan or extremist.  I always felt like I was in over my head.

My husband can speak in front of a crowd and win them over in a heartbeat.  He doesn’t even have to be incredibly well-versed in the topic about which he is speaking…he’s just good at it.  That is so not my forte.  I’m much better on paper or in one-on-one conversation.  I don’t think that I’m very good at coming across as an expert on anything.

I’ve said before that losing my job was the best thing that ever happened to me.  With every day that goes by, I believe this more and more.  If I may make another confession, losing my first job in wedding gown sales was another good thing.

I don’t think I’ve actually written about this before.  Last year, I worked at another shop in Atlanta for three months, and I was fired because I didn’t sell enough.  I showed up for work one day with a plate of cookies, and the owner told me that I needed to go home.  I would be paid through the end of the month (which happened to be the next day), and that was that.  My cookies and I went home.  She said that selling dresses just wasn’t my thing.

Three months after that, I started working at the shop where I work now.  Within three months, I broke a record for most money earned by a single salesperson.

Yup, sales must not be my thing.

A Brush with Fame

I had a walk-in at the shop yesterday, which we don’t normally take.  But she was very sweet, and her wedding is SOON – like early July, so I took her upstairs to at least take a look at what we have to see if she’d like to make an appointment for another day.

She wandered around with her mouth wide open, exclaiming over our dresses: the fabrics, the styles, the quality.  She told me that she had shopped in Atlanta, LA, and NYC, and she hadn’t seen anything as good as what we have.  Honestly, I was flattered, and since I did have a little bit of time, I let her pick out five dresses she wanted to try on.  The very first one I put her in was this one:

It’s one of my favorites, which we just received on loan from a designer we recently started carrying.

She GLOWED.  Admittedly, she’s a beautiful girl to begin with, but this dress just transformed her.  It was truly amazing.  We talked through the rush order we would need to do, as well as the (minor) changes she wanted to make to the gown, and she made an appointment for this morning.

Just after 11:00 today, she came in with her parents to order the gown, and they agreed that the dress was simply perfect.  I was so excited for her, particularly since she had been dress shopping for three months with no luck.  I can’t even imagine how frustrating that was for her.

As we were checking out and placing the order, I asked her what she does for a living.  I knew that she lived in LA, and that she was originally from Atlanta, but that was about it.  Well, it turns out that she’s an actress.  And she’s getting married to this guy.   I hadn’t heard of her before yesterday, but even I know who he is!

It may sound silly, but I’m glad that I didn’t know her profession until after she left.  I don’t *think* I would have treated her differently, or offered her any preferential treatment, but I’m not positive.  I do buy a lot of Us Weekly mags, but I’m not obsessed with celebrities.  I think it’s really cool that she bought a dress from me, but I tend to think that about a lot of the brides that buy from me.  I feel honored to play that role in their lives.  She’s a happy, beautiful bride, and that was the most important thing today.

Taking it Personally

I sold a dress today to a bride from Panama.  Her fiance lives here (I think he’s in school), and she was visiting with her family for the Easter weekend.  He’s moving to Panama over the summer, and they’re getting married there.  She and her family primarily conversed in Spanish; in fact, her mother spoke no English.

The bride was just lovely, and she purchased an absolutely beautiful gown – my favorite one by a Spanish designer we carry.  As she left the shop, she gave me a big hug and thanked me for giving her a wonderful experience.  It seems that she had not fared so well at other boutiques.

I realized something after she left.  She truly could have bought a gown anywhere.  (And I mean anywhere – like Panama!)  She was stunning, with a fantastic figure, and every dress she put on looked great.  But I was patient and accommodating, and I didn’t dismiss her.  And I think that played into her decision.

I’ve been guilty of it in the past – getting frustrated with brides who are just playing, writing off those whose budgets fall below the prices we carry, and getting impatient with those who don’t speak English as a first language.  I don’t make much money hourly, and ideally, my monthly commission comes out to a little more than half of my take-home pay.  It can be a little frustrating to spend a couple of hours with a bride, oftentimes on multiple occasions, and only make enough money to pay for lunch.  I put a lot of energy and effort into what I do, and I take the entire process very seriously and very personally.

It would have been easy to dismiss a foreign customer, with various family members in tow, who spent most of her time speaking Spanish.  I didn’t.  And it was appreciated.  I need to keep that in mind every day I work.

Where I’ve Been

Things have been C-R-A-Z-Y.

Mr. JST and I hit up a wedding:

…where we also got to celebrate with some great friends:

And then I went to Chicago for the National Bridal Market, which was seriously awesome.  I didn’t really know what to expect, except that I was hearing that this show wouldn’t be as big, as impressive, or quite simply, as good as it has been in years past.

I loved it.  I’ve loved everything weddings for years now, and this show was right up my alley.  It was at the Merchandise Mart, a massive building in downtown Chicago.  We went specifically to look at four or five of the gown designers we currently carry, as well as to see what new designers might be attending and to pick up some accessories.  We were wildly successful.

My favorite dress from the show (the one in the middle), from Paloma Blanca:

I go nuts for a good tulle skirt.  It gets me every single time.

My second favorite, also from Paloma:

I seriously dig those flowers on the lace bodice.  **Love**

I promise I wasn’t bored at the show, although this picture might suggest otherwise:

My boss is the lady with her back to the camera, emphatically explaining to the lovely man from Pattis why she wants to redesign all of his mom’s amazing dresses.  Also amazing – the fact that they let her.

With coffee and ready for day two…

…a day which came to an end, as far as work was concerned, fairly early.  We wrapped up all of the vendors we planned to visit by 1 pm, so we decided to do some sightseeing.  We took a lake and river boat tour, which was lovely, and we visited the ever popular Bean in Millenium Park.

And La Raine and I pretended that it was flattening us.

We had a fabulous time, and it was extremely cool to be an integral part of selecting which dresses the shop will be carrying in just a few short months.  My job is the coolest, for reals.  🙂

I stumbled upon something today, without even meaning to do so.

Wednesday is one of my days off, and I started things off slowly – cleaning up the kitchen, scrubbing down our bathrooms, doing some laundry, hanging out with the dog.   I caught up on emails and some projects I’ve been meaning to do for a while now.  All in all, pretty productive.

Around 4 pm, I headed out to pick up some things for dinner and get my nails done in preparation for my trip to Chicago this weekend.  On a whim, I purchased the new issue of Martha Stewart Weddings to peruse while at the nail salon.  Mr. JST totally calls me out on it, but from time to time I still purchase wedding magazines in the name of “work.”  Ha.  It’s totally an excuse.

Anyway, while checking out at the store, the cashier asked if I was getting married.  I told her no, I’m already married…but I do sell dresses!  So buying wedding magazines is totally justified, right?  She stopped for a minute to check out the cover, smiled a little, and carried on.  Martha just touches everyone, doesn’t she?

And then, the nail place.  I sat down for my mani/pedi – one young girl working on my fingers, one on my toes.  Y’all, they were both WAY more interested in my magazine than in my extremities.  They “oohed” and “aahed” over the gowns just like I did.  The girl who did my manicure even hung out after she was finished so she could see what was at the end of the magazine.  We talked about dresses and cakes and flowers and favors…it was a hoot.

So there you have it.  At least among women, Martha Stewart Weddings is, hands down, the ultimate conversation starter.