Happy Anniversary to Me! On the day of my 5th anniversary working for Coquette International, I felt it was the perfect time to delve into my work life and all the experiences that have gone along with it.
As a self-proclaimed creative junkie, it was only fitting that I ended up attending school for fashion design and working as a designer in the industry for years. After interviewing for a role with Coquette, I can fondly remember the day I received my offer for a sales and marketing position from my soon to be new boss and national sales manager, Dave. I had received an offer for a different position only days before, and I remember debating with my boyfriend at the time which role I should choose. I valued his opinion, but had expected more support from him after being together almost five years, and my clear lean towards the Coquette position over the other. In hind sight, his inability to see the true potential and even his blatant comments suggesting my skill set and strengths were not in line with the role, nor that he believe me capable of being successful in a sales role, fueled me to achieve my own goals and prove him wrong. I don’t think his intent was to be mean, just out of protection and clearly not being able to see my true strength or potential. For the first time in my life I ignored others opinions, and made a decision based solely on what I wanted, what I believed I was capable of accomplishing and could be very successful at. Typically, and I hate to admit it, even though that relationship wasn’t bad, I just felt expected to follow someone else’s path and their idea of what was right or wrong. We did not make each other better, we didn’t motivate each other to succeed, we just weren’t a good fit. That realization does not make me happy or sad, I was just walking the path to get to where I am now. Eventually that new-found confidence and belief in myself led me down the path to find my true strength, and inevitably to the end of that relationship.
When I look back, taking this role was responsible for helping me figure out who I was in the world. I believe it was the moment I came into my own as an adult and an individual. It made me realize my true potential and capabilities, and this experience and strength lead me straight through the next couple years and directly into the arms of my husband, and ultimately the best moments of my life. I blame no one but myself for my past decisions, end of relationships, and missed opportunities. I am responsible for my own choices and my own journey. Looking back at my life I am thankful for everything that has brought me to today, all the decisions, actions and the experiences. This life has moulded me into who I am today, and lead me to the real me. The only part I wish could be different, is that I could have met my husband much earlier in life, because I will never be able to spend enough time with him, even with a full lifetime ahead of us, I wish our forever never has to end. If only we could live for forever. My husband Keith brings out my true potential and strength. He is my rock, my strength and he gives me endless support and motivation. He inspires me. He loves openly, with his whole heart, and encourages me to be me, find me, and chase my dreams. Mostly he wants me to be happy more than anything else, and encourages me to spend time doing things I love. I found my best friend, my perfect partner, my soul mate and I’m most thankful for him, and every day we get to spend with each other on another one of our adventures.
When I started working at Coquette in May 2009, I was thrown into a completely new role, a new world and loved it. It really is a bit of a sink or swim scenario, you either learn to adapt, work with your own natural strengths and eventually excel, or you get overwhelmed with the workload and the pressure, and you move on. This role is fast paced, high pressure, and mentally demanding. Each rep controls a territory which you manage almost like you would your own personal business. You are responsible for anything and everything within your territories, and they are not small. I take care of the North Eastern USA, which includes 15 states, from New York to Virginia, DC to Vermont, Pennsylvania to Massachusetts, and many more.
If you didn’t know, Coquette is a Canadian based Lingerie and Halloween Costume wholesale company, which has been opeating for 35 years. We currently offer 8 catalogues/lines ranging from beautifully designed lingerie, including baby dolls, chemises, bustiers and corsets which we are most well-known for. We also have a more affordable boxed line called Kissable, which are cute, flirty affordable styles. We have our La Petite Coquette Line that has every accessory you could ever want, including hosiery, gloves, garter belts, skirts, panties, and even mens underwear and the list continues. We’re peddlin’ panties – a running joke in the sales office. If you’re feeling a little more risqué, we have our Spellbound line, or our Darque line that easily transfers into club wear including wetlook leggings, leather look dresses, and tops, or more lingerie based pieces like garter belts and bustiers. Our Halloween Costume line known as Masquerade, has flirty and fun costumes ranging from teddy bears to sock monkeys, cops to firefighters, princesses to witches.
Our head office and Canadian warehouse is based in Ontario, and we also have a US warehouse located in LA. The company is still owned and operated by the original owners, with the addition of their son and daughter. We have sales managers, reps, distributors and retailers and customers worldwide, and our products can be found in thousands of stores worldwide and online as well. Pretty good for a family owned and operated company, which begin simply because the owner owned a lingerie store and seen a need for pretty panties. She started making panties in her home to sell in her store and the whole company and it’s success all spawned from that one action. Coquette Lingerie was born. This industry is light and fun, you have to be open-minded and accepting of all kinds of people. We meet interesting characters, with interesting personalities and hobbies. You also become very comfortable with your self, and can speak openly and freely about the intimate apparel industry without a second thought. You become desensitized in a way, and I find that I need to remind myself of this often. I’m happy of the open view and values I have grown and developed. I do not judge based on the outward appearance of others, I can see beauty in all forms. That is something I am so thankful for, an industry that sees beauty and wants to make everyone feel confident, beautiful and strong in their own skin. I’m proud to be part of a company who makes women feel amazing about themselves, their health and their bodies everyday.
After working at Coquette for a couple of years my territory expanded, and I took on the role as the Midwestern Canadian rep as well, including Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta, all on top of my current US territories. Needless to say I was excited for the new adventure, challenge, and the added responsibility. My role requires I travel a minimum of a week every month. Now that doesn’t seem like much, but imagine a quarter of your life being spent alone on the road in hotels, eating alone in restaurants, and working over 8 hours a day of appointments only to return to your hotel to do all that office work you can’t do while your driving or flying in between packed appointments. That easily takes up another 3-5 hours not including drive times. I love travelling as a group with the other reps to trade shows, we have a great time and the environment is always fun and full of laughter. We have earned nicknames and endless unforgettable and ridiculous stories over the years. The hardest part of the travel is realizing over a quarter of my life is spent away from my family and friends, and very much alone. I miss birthdays, celebrations and have even missed saying goodbye to more than one family member when they passed away suddenly, and I was unable to get back in time. This role can take a serious tole on you if you are not at your strongest, and the hardest part for me is being a newly wed and spending so much time far away from my amazing husband. I love travel, but too much can be taxing on any relationship and even on your mental health. Don’t get me wrong I enjoy my job, but it’s not always the glamorous lifestyle and adventure people see it to be. To be honest it’s the most exhausting role and experience of my life, between lack of sleep, running myself ragged, flight delays and cancellations, time changes, jet leg, red-eye flights, and poor diet because you’re just too busy to stop and eat, and by the time I arrive home I am so tired, I sleep for an entire weekend, which is typically cut short due to travel time. Exhaustion is one of the biggest obstacles to overcome in my role.
Lets push the negatives aside now, and let’s talk about all the good stuff! I’m fortunate to be involved in two trade shows in Las Vegas (International Lingerie Show), two in New York City (Curve Show), one in Houston which has now moved to New Orleans (Halloween Expo) every year, and I travel monthly throughout my US and Canadian territories. I cannot even begin to tell you all the places, cities, landscapes, landmarks, monuments, inspiring views, museums, and shows I’ve seen, and I feel incredibly blessed to have been able to travel to all the places I have. When I really think about it, I probably would have never visited a quarter of the places I now spend extensive time in, if not for this role. I really am so very blessed. I frequently think about some of my most favourite places to visit like New York City and Virginia Beach, or the beautiful mountains, valleys, oceans, rivers, forests I have witnessed on my long drives through Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Vermont, Maine, Alberta, Manitoba and so many others. I remember special moments like walking from my hotel and straight out onto the sand, and watching the sun come up over the ocean as I sipped my morning coffee. I remember being in awe of the giant ships in battleship Cove in Delaware, I remember seeing a herd of thirty deer running through the West Virginia mountain side as I drove down an empty highway or of eating the most amazing fresh fish at an ocean side diner in Rhode Island. The experiences are wonderful and endless, and ones I think of fondly and feel so lucky to have witnessed and been apart of. On top of the experiences, the people I have met, worked with and befriended in my journey are truly inspiring. Some working relationships can be challenging, but for the most part, my customers are extensions of my circle of friends and even family. We know each other personally and after five years of phone calls, emails, visits, meals together and a genuine desire to help in the success of their businesses, I consider them friends. You build strong supportive relationships through the years, I receive beautiful Christmas cards, they remember my birthday and anniversary, and show comfort and support through tragedy. They are loyal and caring and I’m so lucky to have met each and every one of them, and that I get to continue to work with them in the future.
Then there is the incredible team that I work with. Our sales department is a great unit, and even though we manage our individual areas, we come together to support each other and use our unique strengths to improve business for all. We work directly with management, design, graphics, the web department, accounting, sourcing, warehousing, shipping and so many others. Our roles are diverse and challenging, keeping track of all the requests, orders, marketing, trips, shows, and feedback that get sent through many different channels and all departments. My job is different everyday, and that’s what I love most about it. Some days I spend time in design giving feedback on upcoming lines, trends and the needs of our customers, other days I’m developing posters and advertising programs for customers, other days I enter order after order, then there are those endless meeting days to keep everyone on track, or the trip days where I spend every waking minute working and running from appointment to appointment, selling and showing new product, other days I’m part of fittings to pick product lines and model casting calls, and then there is the bad days dealing with upset clients, negotiating contracts, diffusing conflict, differences in opinions, shipping delays or production issues and pulling out the best problem solving and multi-tasking skills you have to offer. Like I said, every day is different and everyday is a challenge, but it keeps my work exciting and new.
Through this role and all the experiences over the past five years, I’m appreciative for the strength I had to stand up for what I believed in, and the ability to see my true potential. Whenever I feel weak or low, I just remember the moments I’ve lived through, the career I’ve excelled in and I remember just how strong I am. If you follow your passion it will lead you to your dreams, and a career you love. I hope that no matter who believes in you or doesn’t, that you have the strength to chase your dreams, to see your true potential, know your worth, and always, always be true to yourself. You are capable of anything you set your mind to, work hard, be honest and do your very best, and your path will lead you to your paradise.
Please be strong enough to follow your dreams, you will never regret the chase to your true happiness.
My Coquette Life:
A look at Coquette Lingerie: http://www.coquette.com