Bethany sent this entry last week and it’s only now that I’m getting around to posting it. Bethany mentions this morning that
I have already had somebody contact me who used to have the same rep and noticed in my post about KIDShow that I was having trouble with the rep. She said the same rep pretty much put her out of business! So I really want to get the word out about this rep.
If you want the rep’s name, you’ll have to login to the forum; or join, if you’re not a member already. Here’s Bethany’s horror story on what can go wrong with an apparel sales representative.
Dear Kind Readers,
I have a story to tell that will make the hair stand up on the back of your neck and you may run screaming from the computer and hide under the covers. I had an unbelievable experience with a sales rep and I want to let everyone know for two reasons:
- Even experienced designers can get taken.
- Heed my advice and not let it happen to you.
It all started last year when I was looking for a Dallas sales rep. Every so often I get emails from reps requesting my business and I file them away until I am ready. So I was going through my file and sure enough, there was an email from a Dallas sales rep. So I called her and she was amazing! She said she had been in the business forever, she had come from the manufacturing side, so she understood how difficult it was to build a brand, and she said that in a year I would be selling $100,000 a season! She told me of the brands she already repped and one in particular interested me because they had a similar look to my look, but wouldn’t compete. The two brands together would complement each other and I figured the stores that already bought the other brand would be happy to have my brand to help merchandise their stores. So I figured she had the type of buyer I was looking for. I even did my homework by calling said brand and one other of her designers and asked them how they liked her. Both gave glowing reviews. So I signed.
About two months later I got a call from the rep who was hysterical. She was crying (totally not like her) and said that there was a huge falling out with three of her brands and that one of her reps had manipulated and lied to the brands and stolen them from her! I asked her why the brands left and she said because they said she wrote orders that she never gave to them. I thought this was weird because why would a rep write an order and not pass it along? If the manufacturer didn’t ship, the rep wouldn’t get paid. I also heard rumors of the rep taking money for a show and then not going to the show and not refunding the money. So at this point I started to have reservations about the rep. But I had no money with her, I hadn’t paid her anything, but I also had no orders from her. I asked if the line I had liked was still with her and she said yes, so I decided to stay.
Things were going along okay and I had only gotten two orders from her, but it was the end of the year and things were slow everywhere. That’s when I got a weird phone call. A man called and said he was looking for my rep, but her phone messages were full and she wasn’t answering her phone. I asked what the problem was, and to make a long story short, my rep owed the man money for a booth at a show! So now I had proof that my rep wasn’t paying her bills and was in financial trouble. But again, because she had never asked me for any money, I discounted it a bit, figuring everyone gets into trouble every now and again.
I wasn’t totally convinced though, so at this point, I called one of the brands that left the rep in the big fallout the month prior. The woman was very nice and apologetic, but she said the rep had ‘borrowed’ money from her and never paid her back. The rep had told her that she had written tons of orders which the manufacturer never saw, and the rep’s Dallas showroom was closed for lack of payment!!! That’s when I freaked out. My whole reason for signing with this rep was to have my brand at the Dallas showroom and now I find out it is closed.
I would have left my rep at this point, but I had already paid for my portion of the booth at KIDShow. So I figured, I would go up and see what was going on, see how my rep was, and see how many orders I would get. My rep was not happy that I was coming along.
So I get to the show on Sunday. My rep had insisted I be there by noon, but I ended up arriving around 1:00. Sure enough, nothing had been set up in the booth. To make a really long story short, I left around 6:30 and the booth was barely together. I had to borrow a steamer from another booth, and my rep and another woman finished putting the booth together by 2:00am! Oh, did I mention everything smelled like kitty litter? I am totally serious. She had industrial sized Febreze bottles and was spraying everything ‘cause it smelled so bad! I about died.
The next morning my rep basically didn’t speak to me and that lasted for pretty much the entire show! It was incredibly uncomfortable in the booth, so I spent most of my time standing in the ‘hall’ and trying to get stores to check out my stuff. My rep insisted that all the displays were to be mixed up throughout the entire booth (It was 4 booths put together) so when the stores walked by, all they saw was a mess of clothing with no real direction. I did my best to contain my area, but it was quite small and most stores just walked on by.
As the show continued, I began to meet other manufacturers, and one of the designers I met had been in the fallout I spoke of previously. They confirmed that my rep had taken money for a show she never went to and they also confirmed the Dallas show room was closed and locked. I had already made my decision to leave my rep at that point, but it helped confirm the truth to me.
Now, the problem was, I had a plane at 4:00, which meant I had to pack up and be gone around 2:30. So I began to pack up my stuff and my rep about had a fit! She called security on me and said I wasn’t allowed to take my samples. I calmly explained the situation and the security guard couldn’t really do anything, so he walked away. Then my rep got the head of the show to come over and tell me there was a fine of $250 for leaving early. Again, I explained the situation and she let it go.
As I walked away, my rep was with other customers writing an order. I wasn’t going to say anything in front of them, because I felt it was disrespectful to the manufacturer they were writing, but my rep made a nasty comment so I let her have it. I told her the last few days had been the most unprofessional experience in my life, and she was a lying liar who lied. I said a few other choice words and left with my head held high.
I have not heard from my sales rep since the show, but I imagine I will soon.
So as you can see, there are crazies in every business. I did everything I could to try and get a feel for this rep before I signed with her, but it turns out she was a scam artist. This isn’t to say that all sales reps are bad. I think this is the exception to the rule. But just be warned that weird things do happen and to listen to your instincts and if you think you should leave a rep, LEAVE! Don’t try to reason with yourself, just follow your gut and I think everything will work out in the end.