Beating the Recession As a Seller, Buyer and Mother

Beating the Recession As a Seller, Buyer and Mother

Time is one element that is not renewable. When each minute, hour, day or week passes, thats it. It is therefore one of lifes most precious commodities.

How to make the best and most productive use of that commodity is a major driving factor behind Etcetera, a company founded in 2000 by Bill Rondina, CEO and chairman of The Connaught Group, to provide women with top quality designs through a customized and more rewarding trunk show shopping experience.

Etceteras marketing is aimed specifically at busy women, like Alexandria resident Nanette Lawson, an accounting professional and a CPA who spent seven years as an accountant for KPMG and 10 years as vice president of finance and treasurer for the Public Broadcasting Service.
She also helps women like her, who cannot find time to find the fashions they desire, as a wardrobe specialist for the company. She has trunk sales four times a year to offer the latest fashions for each season.

Etcetera clients are women who are high on style but short on time, said Etcetera President Mary Alice Heape.

Lawson moved to the area in 1985 from Houston to take the job with PBS. Her husband John is also in broadcasting and with 10 year-old twin sons, her time is valuable, as is her clients.

Many of my clients are professional women and this provides an excellent way for them to shop as well as an excellent home business for me, she said. I have clients from throughout the Washington metropolitan area.

Her show room doubles as the family room four times a year, but its not a revolving door; the personal shopping is by appointment only. Etcetera supplies all the clothing and provides the display racks to each of its consultants. There is no upfront money required which makes it the ideal turnkey business, she said.

In addition to the trunk shows, Lawson also does trend-setter shows each year to keep clients up-to-date on emerging seasonal fashions. Her next show begins November 6.

Etcetera sends Lawson 10 groups of outfits for every show. There is something for every complexion, figure and height, she said. But, I only want my clients to buy what they will wear. I dont believe in pressuring for sales.

Long-time clients Brenda Becker, senior vice president of Global Government Affairs at Boston Scientific Corp., and neighbor Tammy Hughes, buttressed the remark.

Its a very comfortable setting, Becker said Nan gets to know her clients and what makes each one of us unique. I have been buying my clothes this way for nearly 10 years. I was doing it before I met Nan and I always get compliments on my clothes.

Highes said, This concept is absolutely the ultimate way to shop. The clothes are timeless and Nan is the best person I have ever known to shop with. She is very low key and there is absolutely no pressure to buy.

Lawson devotes her entire time during show weeks to her clients and the Etcetera clothing line. She first became an Etcetera consultant in 2003 and continued through 2005. She then went back to her accounting life for three years and re-entered the fashion world in 2008, keeping personal files on her clients taste to better serve them.

Through its direct sales business model, Etcetera is able to offer women a highly personalized shopping experience, offering chic, everyday wear at extremely competitive prices not possible in brick-and-mortar stores or boutiques, said Jeff Salzgeber of Etcetera.

Because there are no traditional retail overhead costs of running the shop, clothes are more affordable and economical, especially in a down economy, and are sometimes half the price of what they would be in the display window of a well-known chain store, according to Salzgeber.

All Etcetera outfits work together to give women more bang for their buck, he said. And, each collection builds upon the previous one, so clients can mix and match.

Not to mention, the company, ranked by Money Magazine as one of the top 20 companies for women looking for high-end careers with flexible hours, is currently hiring fashionistas like Lawson in Alexandria and the rest of the region.

Nan can be reached for an appointment or further information at 703-928-0752 or