Billie Whitehouse is one of an increasing number of entrepreneurs who is inspiring others to be creative and to take risks. She is well regarded as leading the convergence of fashion and technology as Art Director and Designer at Wearable Experiments. This is the company that she co-founded in 2013. As with any product or service requiring an identifiable marketing advantage, her products include Navigate, a GPS-enabled blazer and The Alert Shirt, a sports jersey that lets fans feel sensations tied to sports games. This is far and away more than one experiences in department stores with racks containing uninspired merchandise from one season to the next.
Billie Whitehouse reminds me of a story I once read by the late Stanley Marcus (co-founder of the highly regarded Neiman Marcus Department stores). In his book, “Minding the Store” he purposely walked into the watch and jewelry department one of his stores. The clerk didn’t recognize him. He asked to see a new watch along with a demonstration of its features. Marcus, for purposes of this story, was wearing a wrist watch that was over two decades old. Apparently, the clerk did a rather poor job of representing the watch and Marcus remained unmoved. He decided to give the clerk one more chance to sell him on the new watch as a replacement for his old one. “Why should I buy it?” Marcus asked the clerk. “Because it’s new”, replied the hapless clerk. Marcus walked away and made some notes that most likely involved some additional training for the clerk. In another area of his book, he personally assisted a customer with a wallet purchase and as you might imagine, his answer as to why the customer should replace his old wallet with the new one differed substantially. “Your wallet is a fine model, but let me show you some additional features of this wallet that I think you will find attractive”, said Marcus. Ever the salesman with flair, Marcus closed that sale after explaining the features and benefits of the updated wallet.
Billie Whitehouse offers the following advice to others, consistent with Stanley Marcus’ approach. “Be a good person. Love ridiculously. Do your work. Don’t let boys be mean to you. Do what you love, what you are good at and what you are known for!” I have found this to be great advice.
When one devotes themselves to their passions in life, their creativity is expanded to such an extent that it becomes infectious when dealing with a current and future customer. Add to that, innovative designs that fulfill a need that no other competitor has delivered, and the results represent a win-win for the retailer and the customer. Nowhere is this more apparent today than with uninspired goods represented by either poorly compensated, uninspired, or badly trained sales representatives on both the wholesale and retail sides of the industry. A toast is in order to Billie Whitehouse and, indeed, all entrepreneurs!