Clothes off her back


Salli Ward wears the expensive clothes she sells from her basement showroom

At Work

December 19, 2007|By Nancy Jones-Bonbrest | Nancy Jones-Bonbrest,Special to The Sun

Salli Ward

Wardrobe consultant/personal shopper

Wonderful Wardrobes, Owings Mills

Salary --$35,500

Age --61

Years on the job --17

How she got started --Working as a wardrobe consultant is a second career for Ward, who spent 25 years as an elementary school teacher in Illinois. While she was still teaching, she began selling the Doncaster brand of clothing as a part-time job. She moved to Maryland in 1996 and continued working as a sales consultant for the company. "I see my role as helping women find clothes that work for them."

Typical day --A big part of what Ward does is networking and meeting prospective clients for her business. So she attends numerous community events, all the while wearing the clothes she sells. "I call it dress up, show up and follow up. If I get a compliment, I have a [business] card."

Ward only sells clothing from Doncaster, a direct sales company focused on women's fashion. She runs Wonderful Wardrobes as her own business, earning commissions and bonuses based on her sales.

Ward's job is to provide advice on what clothes work for a woman's particular figure and to help her clients put together a wardrobe.

She holds trunk sales at her home keyed to each of the four seasons. Ward's basement is set up as an office and boutique to hold the events, which run about three weeks at a time. During the shows, she takes appointments seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. For the two weeks before a show, she's on the phone booking appointments. The two weeks after a show, she's back on the phone following up on orders. In between shows, she takes e-mail orders and sends out a fashion newsletter twice a month.

Her clientele --A typical Doncaster blouse costs $150 to $200. "For women who would rather have fewer things and better things, those are my clients."

The good --Hearing from clients who received compliments on the clothes they purchased. "When I get that feedback, it reminds me why I'm doing this."

The bad --Dealing with clients' schedule changes. "You think you have a great day of appointments and you're going to have a good day of sales, then life happens."

Philosophy on the job --"I love helping women feel wonderful about how they look."

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