Empowerment Begins With You
By ALI CUDBY
The work to empower women comes in many forms, especially in the world of lingerie. For retailers, manufacturers, and everyone else, your success ultimately boils down to one thing.
You are only as good as your team.
And yet the nature of lingerie is that employees can be transient. Sometimes employees come on board and can’t handle the intimacy of lingerie – particularly in a retail store. They come into a business, are confronted by all the emotions that women have in the fitting room, and they bail out. Some, on the other hand, start working in lingerie, thrive on the opportunity to help women step into their best selves.
Sometimes even these successful retail employees don’t stay – for all the right reasons.
Helping your employees find their best selves in a retail store is a powerful way to view the transitions that some retailers see as a plague of the business.
Kiersten Ballman, owner of Coup de Foudre in Washington DC recently shared the story how she sees her role as manager of people in her lingerie boutique.
Laura* had moved to America from France and needed a job. She knew nothing about lingerie and had little experience with retail. She quickly fell in love with the opportunity to serve women in the fitting room. She loved both the intimacy of fitting and the quest to help each woman discover her value in Coup de Foudre’s fine selection of luxury European brands.
Over time, Laura grew as an employee and got more involved in ordering and even managing the shop solo in the mornings. A busy Saturday was no longer cause for being frazzled, because she was tuned into the customers and solid in her foundation as a fitter. Tasks that had seemed nerve-wracking at the beginning, like fitting and up-selling, became second-nature.
Ultimately, the day came when Laura received an offer to transition from her retail post to a corporate job.
While some retailers might see this as a frustration or even a betrayal, from Ballman’s perspective, it was an important step in Laura’s journey.
“Sometimes it feels like pushing the baby bird out of the nest – because they’re ready,” she shared.
Not all employees are destined to stay in retail for the long-haul. Some, maybe many of them, take a retail position as a means of transition.
Ballman says, “This job gives employees the self-esteem and confidence they need. Being with customers and getting positive feedback from them empowers THEM to go out and get the next thing.”
In the same way that retailers strive to help customers shift into a better view of themselves, they do the same with employees. Shifting how you think about the transition of your employees can make a big difference in your engagement with your team, which melts into your team’s engagement with their customers.
Laura keeps in touch with her Coup de Foudre teammates, and refers colleagues from her new job to the store. She understands exactly how empowering an experience in the store can be, because she experienced that for herself.
How a leader manages her employees can be as powerful a platform for transformation as any moment in the fitting room.
How are you managing the transitions of your employees?