Whew, glad I got that out-of-the-way.
In addition to overseeing the sales and marketing department, I also oversee the customer service department (ok, I’m really the only one in this department). This month has been particularly taxing for the customer service department as the launch of our new collection and kicked up marketing support has brought some unusual requests/questions.
Here are our Top 10 Customer Service Questions/Queries over the past week. And YES these are actual queries that we received this week.
10. “What shade lipstick is your model wearing? I love the way it glimmers.”
9. “Do any of your skorts have extra padding around the butt?”
8. “How many pockets are on your skort? What is the length? Do you have any stores in Utah? No need to reply to this.”
7. “I want to exchange my skorts from last year for the ones that you have now. How do I do that? ps. I wore them, but no one will know because they are in great shape”
6. “When are you planning on making reflective running vests?”
5. “Your model is gorgeous. Is she single?”
4. “I love your model’s golf shoes. Where can I purchase them?”
3. “I live in Washington but chose “local pickup” for shipping. How do I pick it up if you are in Chicago?”
2. “I normally wear an XL, but you are sold out. Do you think I’ll fit into a M?”
And the number 1 query of the week:
1.”What size skort should I order if I plan on wearing a few pairs of bike shorts underneath the skorts? I want to wear them while I roller derby.”
Now I’ll post her “official” press release at the end of this blog, but in true Smashing fashion, we really don’t care about her extensive experience (ok we care a little bit), we want to know the real Kelley (and of course, if she is going to laugh at my jokes).
So here are the Top 6 Things you didn’t know about Kelley Hughes:
6. Kelley REALLY wants to be on the Amazing Race with either her son or daughter. She promises to wear Smashing in all the episodes when she gets chosen.
5. She lived in Hong Kong for 3.5 years. She likes to tell the story about how she stood out since she is so tall. Note, she is 5’2″
4. She wants to skydive and keeps trying to get us to design Smashing parachutes (the only parachute I’m looking for is the golden one)
3. Kelley has a son that is a soccer player. So on weekends you will find her driving the interstate going from tournament to tournament.
2. Kelley also has a daughter who spent a semester at Kansas before coming to her senses and transferring to Tulane. I believe it was their pitiful performance during March Madness that made her realize she needed to leave.
1. She is trying to convince me to stop drinking Diet Coke by sending me emails about how I have Aspartame poisoning. It worked. I now drink red wine in the morning.
To read all about her business accolades, here is her press release. And welcome Kelley!!
This will be a short blog and at a less than ideal posting time but I wanted to share my experience today with our factory in Chicago and why Made in USA is better. There are the obvious reasons I support whole heartedly our Made in the USA position. including the benefits to the economy by creating American jobs with Better labor conditions for workers. But there are sound business reasons as well.
I went into our factory in Chicago today and was told that a few items were not quite ready for our order. After spending time stuck in traffic on the Kennedy today, my initial reaction was annoyance. But they explained that they had 99% of order ready and wanted to show me a couple of pieces that were not quite ready. There were 2 shirts that had microscopic stains that they had already sent to the dry cleaners to have the spot unsuccessfully removed, so were going to recut the soiled sections, and a skirt that had a crooked seam that only they and I would know about – it would be considered straight at any outfit you would buy manufactured in a sweatshop overseas.
I quickly got over my annoyance and said that’s fine – I’d bring what they had done and would gladly come back for the other items when they were perfectly Smashing.
I know I was recently talking to a customer this week at a trunk show about my favorite Smashing houndstooth skirt – I have honestly washed and worn this skirt 100 times in the past 2 years and it’s still in great condition. I attribute it to the US-milled fabrics, the Made in USA manufacturing and of course our Smashing designs. (Plus, don’t tell anyone – I ignore our care labels and DO put my skirt in the dryer!)
So please tell your friends – Smashing is designed in Illinois, made from US-milled fabrics and manufactured in Chicago, even our zippers are made in Georgia – plus hides your muffin top. What would you rather wear?
Have a Smashing weekend
It’s Spring Break for the partners at Smashing – but don’t worry, everyone else here is required to work 24×7 for the next week to compensate! (Although our families will attest that we’re still always working!)
While Kelly is lounging on the beach w/ umbrella drinks, I’ll be with my boys looking at colleges and doing a Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives road trip through Indiana, Kentucky, Nashville, Memphis and St Louis and then up back to Chicago through Illinois. If anyone has any Triple D suggestions that we need to see along that route – please let me know in the comments. In the meantime, here’s an excerpt from a recent magazine article on Smashing Golf & Tennis published by South Barrington Life to bring everyone up to speed about the Smashing story. A special thanks to our girlfriends that joined us on the cover!
Smashing designs Golf and Tennis clothes for the other 3 billion women.
We are Barrington women who had an idea: We spent a year and a half researching different fabrics from around the world. We were in search of the best performance fabrics that could also satisfy the fashionista in all of us. We found the right fabrics, and paired with our original design, our golf and tennis apparel will not only allow you to perform better, it will also make you look better. We call it “Fashion that Performs.”
Smashing Golf & Tennis is headquartered here in Barrington, IL and run locally by co-founders Jayne Drew and Kelly Daugherty. Smashing was launched in 2011 and is the only golf and tennis brand that shapes and slims. After seeing our recent article in the Huffington Post, we were asked by South Barrington Life if we would be interested in writing about our journey in starting our business – highlighting the successes and the obstacles of launching a line of sportswear that is now available nationwide.
All great business ideas begin with martinis, right? In our case, it was pomegranate martinis, which has the added benefit of anti-oxidants. Tennis friends Jayne & Kelly had been fermenting a business idea for a couple of months while they played, but due to their busy schedules, couldn’t find time during the day to flesh it out. Finally, during an evening of martinis, the brainstorming began. We realized that we were frustrated and noticed that the majority of tennis apparel was made to fit a twenty-something body. As much as we looked forward to our weekly matches, we were not quite as excited about the little outfits that did nothing for us – which are adorable, if you’ve never had kids.
We hated the “fat sucking, muffin top inducing” styles – we wanted something that was figure flattering, and thus Smashing was conceived. Now while we may lightheartedly debate who said it first, in a eureka moment we thought, “When are they going to put shape wear in tennis clothes?” And thus business was launched. A line of golf and tennis apparel for women that has an inner layer of compression (or shapewear) to make you “Slimmer in Seconds.”
We knew we were onto a great idea, but now we had to actually design a product that addressed this problem. One benefit of our team was that we both had different business backgrounds, and so brought different expertise to the table. Kelly was a VP at a top advertising agency where she specialized in consumer insights/strategy writing and how to target consumers, while Jayne has vast international business experience holding high-level positions in both the Financial Services and IT industries. But neither had a fashion design and manufacturing background – so where to start?
We had thought that we’d have to go to New York or LA to find the expertise, suppliers and manufacturers we needed, which would have proved problematic for a start-up short on funds and kids still in grade school. But through a friend of a friend, the doors to the Chicago fashion industry were opened to us and we’ve never looked back. We’re thrilled to have local access to resources, as it made the idea much more achievable. It also made us determined to support the Chicagoland economy and keep our manufacturing local. We are proud to be a made the USA brand, complete with high quality and technically advanced milled in the US fabrics.
After several prototypes and iterations of designs tested by our tennis and golf friends at the South Barrington Club and Biltmore Country Club, we were ready to hit the market. Fortunately, we had already developed a following of people rooting for us. One of the great ideas we had early on was to start a blog of our adventures – where we decided that we would share all, good and bad.
Our first big break came when we were featured by Shape Magazine in the August 2011 issue. Since then, Smashing Golf & Tennis has been featured in countless publications and media outlets including The Huffington Post, NBC News, FOX Morning, Golf Digest, Shape Magazine, Chicago Tribune and More Magazine.
So what’s next? Smashing continues to add more innovative and flattering designs to our lines and is expanding our sales force nationally as we grow our business. Smashing will also sponsor the LPGA tour this season and we’re excited that pro golfers Ashley Grier and Alexandra Casi wear Smashing’s apparel on the ladies tour.
Have a Smashing Spring Break!
I often joke that my purse is equipped like I’m going to a taping of “Let’s Make a Deal.” But while I have a screwdriver, a set of silverware and a pair of safety scissors, I was missing an essential element for this week’s factory meeting — a roll of toilet paper.
Boss and I had a meeting at the factory this week on our production line. Boss is a regular at the factory and knows all the workers, the secret passage up to the office (it involves following some elusive red line), and the secret knock needed to get someones attention. She also knew to go to the bathroom before we left for the factory.
After our hour drive down and my large, no ice, ice tea my bladder was indeed full. And since I have had 3 kids, and skipped doing my Keegels (major mistake), I really needed to go.
I ask Boss where the bathroom is and her reply is,” You brought toilet paper right?”
I give a snicker and say, “Ok, seriously, where is the bathroom.”
“They don’t have toilet paper here. All the workers bring their own. Do you have a tissue?” she replies trying to restrain her laughter. (although she was smiling with her eyes)
As I grumble in disbelief, I rummage through my bag and yes, I do have a tissue, although I’m pretty sure it was used by my five-year-old last week. I decide I’m going to have to hold it.
As we are sitting in the meeting, I find myself interjecting to get through the small talk and talking at an alarmingly fast pace that can only rival the 1980s FedEx commercials. It’s hard to focus when you have a full bladder.
Finally we are done with the meeting and I’m already planning to which McDonald’s we are going to have to stop through on the way home so I can use their facilities.
But then, Boss has another question.
NO, NO, NO MORE QUESTIONS. I HAVE TO PEE! I am shouting in my head. I now have beads of sweat appearing on my forehead, and I’m pretty sure my body is reaching some toxic level by holding it.
Finally, I can take it no longer, I turn to our production supervisor and say, “Can you spare a square?”
(You’ll be happy to know, that she did.)
Did that get your attention? That was the recent conclusion of one contributor to The Atlantic. To get everyone up to speed, Mayer’s is the CEO of struggling Yahoo that recently caused uproar in Silicon Valley by putting the kibosh on telecommuting for all employees.
That’s easy for her to do, since she built a nursery for her baby next to her plush CEO office. Wonder how management would react if all Yahoo’ers started bringing their children to work?
Part of her rationale is that there is a lot of time wasted by their employees working at home and working on their own start-ups. While that may be true for some, that seems to me a lack of management and clear deliverables.
I understand her need to shake things up at Yahoo – but what I suspect will happen, is that the best people will be pissed off and will find work elsewhere, leaving Yahoo with the very slackers that is causing this shift in policy.
However, this is not going to be a serious article on the benefits of telecommuting – I’m sure I had our regular readers worried! Although, I could dust off my 100 page dissertation on “Parenting and Workplace Performance” and publish that – but wouldn’t want to lose half our followers.
What I do love about our venture, is precisely the ability to work from home. From time to time, Spinner and I are asked about offices – but have discovered there is no need for the overhead. We’re either out at clients, supplier, contractors, etc., offices when needed. We’ve been known to conduct radio interviews from the car and we make very good use of the local coffee shop for breakfast meetings and for lunch meetings at the Lucky Monk (if we’re not trying to impress you and/or I have a craving for their truffle fries) or Shaw’s (if we are trying to impress you and/or Spinner needs a seafood salad.)
That pretty much leaves solo work and having an office would be counter-productive and an expense that isn’t required.
Now I will admit to a few downsides to working from home – chatty people who believe that you’re not really working. I have a handyman who does good work, but I must pretend that I’m on a 6 hour conference call the entire time he is here, by wearing my headset and making some comment into them whenever he’s in earshot.
Just this morning, I had an 8am Skype meeting, and as Spinner will attest, I’m not beyond putting on a nice top and leaving my PJ bottoms on out of camera view.
However, midway through this particular call, I needed to get something that was just out of reach – how was I going to slither away and not be caught in my PJ’s? The only bright side was that I wasn’t wearing my leopard print bottoms. I’m not sure whether the person on the other end of my video noticed, but I think from now on I’ll at least switch to yoga pants on the bottom.
But the upside is great – I’m here when the boys get home from school and able to spend that time with them before dinner and the start of their homework – why is there so much homework these days? Even when they’re cranky and don’t want to talk to me – I know it’s still usually good for us to be cranky together.
It’s also much easier to take a nap when you work from home. Companies usually frown upon sleeping at your desk in the corporate world. But it’s been proven that a little 20-minute cat-nap is a great productivity booster (and so much more comfy when you work in your PJ bottoms!)
I’ve also was one of the many this season to come down with the multitude of viruses were circulating. As a business owner, work doesn’t stop when you’re sick, but I was able to keep working without infecting the masses during my moments of lucidity. Although, I will advise against sending out 1099′s when sick and hallucinating from cough syrup – sending them out right the first time is so much easier than the hoops the IRS makes you jump through to fix the 1 that needs to be corrected.
So for the sake of all my fellow PJ wearing, working mom’s, let’s hope the edict at Yahoo is not the start of a trend.
Have a Smashing Day!
PS We’re looking to hire Independent Sales Rep – Contact us if you’re interested at email@example.com. We might even throw in a set of leopard PJ bottoms.