From Selling Her Wedding Dress to Running a Successful Business: Mary Lou Andre’s Story

Ms. Andre got started in the fashion industry due to her love of clothing and fashion but at the time there wasn’t that much out there. She attended UMASS Amherst which at the time was the only four year fashion school fashion marketing program. After college, Ms. Andre began working at Jordan Marsh and was a “worker bee” behind the scenes at the various fashion shows that they would host to showcase different lines. She fell in love with the very tactile business and how many detailed parts came into the final product that she was able to be a part of. Then she was hired to promote the Enchanted Village fashion that involved her favorite parts of the industry including public relations, marketing, and clothing.

During her time at Jordan Marsh, she was always dressing her friends and family and love filling dressing rooms up with clothes to fit the person’s style and also, more importantly, make them feel confident in what they were wearing. She began becoming close friends with the company’s spokesperson who was always having to be on camera and didn’t have time to pick out or change clothes often so Ms. Andre would run down to the store and pick pieces that would look fashionable but also would be appropriate to represent the company. From this woman, Ms. Andre began getting more and more referrals for her service of styling, and personal shopping which is when her business really started off.

Ms. Andre was very crafty when she first started her business as she didn’t have a lot of money to invest in her own company. She in fact sold her wedding dress in order to pay for stationary and have money to put towards the business. She also used her service as a trade in order to get things she needed to push her business further but what she didn’t necessarily had the money or skills for.

The whole goal of her company, Organization by Design, is to have what is in their closet match their lifestyle. Majority of their market are high ranking executives, but they also work with young men and women starting out in the business world and anyone who needs help with styling, or just doesn’t have the time to go shopping for themselves. Ms. Andre clearly loves and is passionate about her job because she gets to be very hands on and build a personal connection with each client we work with. She explains, “part of my job is being a psychiatrist, and a support system for the client and I love that part of our company”. Ms. Andre gets frustrated when her company is deemed as “frivolous” because she is doing more than just shopping. Clothing is a very personal thing that impacts people on a deep emotional level: professional image can also means the difference between getting a promotion, job, or accepted into college or not.

Ms. Andre shared with me advice she would give to young men and women going to college or the working world by explaining that life is experience and connections: first impressions do matter so going the extra mile and going the distance will differentiate yourself from others. It is also very important to love what you do. When shifting into a profession mindset be thoughtful, be generous with your time, knowing there is enough to go around and being very kind and thoughtful. Being easy to work with is also important because people remember how you make them feel and not what you say, so show up own it, and don’t be a primadonna. Also, remember to have personal pride and be proud of who you are and what you do.

 

It was an honor to have the opportunity to talk with Ms. Andre who was truly inspiring to talk to and learn about her experience in the fashion industry and share her advice with me. She also runs a blog through her company so please check it out for more styling advice for everywhere at http://www.dressingwell.com . Also, check out her book  Ready to Wear: An Expert’s Guide to Choosing and Using Your Wardrobe. 

 

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