I recently had the absolute joy of having a destination wedding in Ocho Rios, Jamaica. We eloped and with that last minute decision came the pressure of finding suitable plus size clothing during the off-season. Where was I going to find a bathing suit, or pretty summer dresses in Canada in January? When I was at the resort I noticed a lot of plus size women and I knew that they must have struggled also. We all have summer clothing laying around in our closets, but when you vacation, you want something new and fun! When I returned home, I created this website to fill that void. I've only begun and throughout the next few months I'll be adding a beautiful selection of light weight tie dye summer dresses and cover ups, stylish bathing suits, and dresses that are perfect for those evening dress up dinners.
Thursday, March 22, 2012
Monday, May 30, 2011
I have to admit, our web business has never been our main focus. We have a busy retail store and that takes up most of our time and energy. In the store, we get instant results. We get to see if our clothing is a good fit and choice. We get to fulfill customers immediately and the process is totally hands on. For those reasons, the website has been sadly neglected. What we do use the website for, is marketing. Our customers in Ontario see what's on the site and choose to come in based on that. However with the store being so busy lately there has been no time to really update it with new styles.
Our solution? To hire a new employee specifically for the website! We are really excited about that and she is 100% committed to updating the site, handling the shipping efficiently, and being on top of all customer service needs. We hope to show you a whole new side of us very soon!
Friday, March 25, 2011
I can't believe how long it's been since I posted. Admittedly the Fall and Winter are always a lot slower in the store so I tend to hibernate and wait for the excitement of Spring. These last few months I've tried to get more active on Facebook. I see other retailers really making a difference in their businesses by reaching out to their customers through social media. At times I wonder if people get overwhelmed by everyone vying for their attention on Facebook so I tend to be more conservative. It's something I want to work on because I think it's a great channel to reach a large number of women. So I'm officially launching a "Follow us on Facebook Contest"! Simply like our fan page and you'll be entered to win 1 of 5 $100 gift certificates that can be used either online or in the store!
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
At Maximum Woman we carry merchandise from at least 20-30 different suppliers. Many of our suppliers provide product photos that we use on our website. For those who don't, our cutting edge styles often get overlooked. Our shoppers look to our website as a preview of what's in store. This past weekend we did a photo shoot to show off some of the amazing styles available for sale at Maximum Woman.
We chose 3 models of different shapes, sizes and heights to represent the versatility of our clothing. You'll find our fashion photos throughout the website, both as product images and also under Events. We hope you'll be inspired to visit us soon!
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
When we opened our first retail location, we were bombarded with reps wanting us to advertise with them. We hadn't learned to say no yet and as a result, ended up with hundreds of ads in various obscure locations. I still remember my partner shaking her head disapprovingly when she found out I had put us in the Russian magazine. Customers would come in and we couldn't understand a word they said lol. We did find a few things that worked for us, including the local Metro newspaper.
One of the first things to get cut during tough times is advertising. We stopped advertising almost 2 years ago. It came down to, should we put an ad in, or pay the rent? Should we put an ad in, or buy stock? Ad, or phone bill? The ad never won, and the months just flew by. This month I decided to start advertising again. I'm always surprised by the number of customers who come in and who have never heard of us after 4 years. So, I made a few calls and placed a few ads and so far the response has been amazing. It really does pay to advertise!
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
I realize I haven't posted in almost two months. I'm happy to say that I've been so tremendously busy that I haven't had a spare moment! This usually happens every summer, women need dresses, the store fills up with anxious shoppers, business booms and then the Fall comes in with impending doom. Everything comes to a screeching halt. There is no business and no money and all of a sudden I look around and realize there is no inventory for the season. This year I have thought ahead and planned for the change. We are moving into new territory this year. We'll be carrying several career lines, a unique European line and lots of sweaters and winter coats.
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
It's probably one of the biggest rules in business marketing - have a business card! It's the most affordable marketing tool - and it's a sign of professionalism. I can't tell you how many times over the last 5 years I've heard excuses from people without one. "It's in the car - I forgot it at home - They are being reprinted" and I smile because I've used all of those excuses and more. At least I'm not the only scattered one, I think:)
When we moved to our new location, we made a mental note to make new business cards. For the first month or two, we scratched out the address on our old ones and used them up. We struggled through the Fall and Winter and whenever the topic of business cards came up, it was usually followed with "well, we don't even know if we are going to be in business next summer".
This week I made the decision to actually get business cards. I glanced at the quantities... 500? 1000? no, 5000 please! It was my commitment to myself that yes, I did indeed need a business card because I was going to be in business for a long long time and it felt great!
Sunday, May 23, 2010
I'm the kind of person who like to shop in relative peace. I want to be acknowledged but then I don't want to feel pressured by sales staff. Of course, if I have a question or a need, I expect a sales person to magically appear and assist me. I like someone who is knowledgeable about the product - who can anticipate my needs but who will also leave me alone to try things on while I take my leisurely time. I want sincerity and honesty, I want friendly and polite, and above all I want to be valued and respected. That's what I look for when I shop - and that's what I strive to offer. We have always taken pride in our staff. Over the years we've had some great women who really embodied what we are all about. We are really excited about our newest team member, Pam. She's an amazing woman that puts her heart into her job - and she's not afraid to go the extra mile. I've heard only great feedback from our customers and I'm really excited that she's joined us at Maximum Woman. Our team is our greatest asset!
Wednesday, May 5, 2010
Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Complicated problems often call for creative solutions. Having a big, beautiful retail store without inventory was an obstacle that needed to be overcome. I connected with Stefanie from SexyPlus Clothing in January. She had an online store featuring trendy, stylish plus size clothing and was located in Toronto. It was the perfect fit for Maximum Woman. We like to focus on our dress business during the Spring and Summer and I felt that our merchandise would complement each other.
We formed an alliance and Stefanie came into the store this past February. Now the store is brimming with new styles and we are able to offer more to our customers - beautiful summer dresses, Spring coats, great denim, designer labels like Apple Bottoms and Babyphat and formal wear.
Team work is a beautiful thing!
We have been closed on Mondays throughout the Winter and with the new Spring weather I made the decision to reopen. There is LIFE out there now. There is a lot of street traffic and people are ready to start feeling fresh and beautiful. Opening Mondays is one more opportunity to provide great customer service to our customers.
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
"Get off your ass and change those damn mannequins" screams my overbearing friend. "I knowwwww... I really shoulddddd" I hear myself whining. The truth is, I probably changed them twice all winter. I just couldn't think of anything that was new or unique enough to justify it. I would look around the store thinking something was too dark, or we only had one of it, or we'd had it for 6 months and then I'd give up. On this particular day my friend barked at me like an army Sargent until I changed each and every mannequin. She shoved old dresses and odds and ends my way and I just obeyed meekly. A week later when she returned she asked me about 3 of the mannequins that were dressed differently. "Well.. um... we sold those things". And then the gloating began...
But she was right of course. What's old to me, can be new to my customers. So I've started changing my mannequins weekly and I'm amazed by the people coming in, mentioning something they saw in the window. At the urging of another friend, I've started putting mannequins out in front of the store each day and it is just breathing new life into the business. People are stopping to look, people driving by are doing u-turns in front of the store and I'm feeling really positive. It's amazing how one small change can make such an impact.
Friday, January 8, 2010
I've often watched the show X-Weighted and wished I could be a part of it. Perhaps it's a desire to be validated or maybe it's the accountability and motivation - but I like the concept of the show. Unfortunately they shoot in Western Canada so until now I have only been able to watch from the comfort of my home. Yesterday I received an e-mail inviting me to take part in the X-Weighted National Challenge. January 9th is the official weigh in at gyms across Canada. It's a 6 month unsupervised program but I love the opportunity to be a part of the challenge and to have a definitive start date in my head.
I am really excited to get in shape and I'm determined to be so successful that I'll make it on to the program in the end. They always like to showcase success stories, so what better way to promote Maximum Woman then to make it to the end.
I am a firm believer in the adage "success begets success". When you feel great, when you look good, when you do good, when you put positive energy into the universe, it all comes back ten fold. I often tell my business partner that we are too unhealthy and unhappy at this moment to attract the success to our business that we need. This is my next step in my journey towards feeling better and bringing the positive energy back into my business.
Thursday, January 7, 2010
When my brother was little, he loved to play hide and seek. When it was his turn to hide, he would just shut his eyes really tight and assume that no one could see him. I apply that same principle to my financial issues. If I don't answer the phone, then the bill collectors don't exist. If I don't open my mail, then I don't have any bills that urgently need paying. And if I don't deal with my taxes, then I don't owe any money. Well, kinda, except when the government decides to freeze my bank account, then it's very real and I am keenly aware.
When you are in business for yourself you have to worry about two kinds of taxes: your personal taxes which you are responsible for deducting and paying, and your business taxes, which you are responsible for collecting from your customers and remitting to the government. It's all very fun.
When you earn income in business, the money is deposited into one account. Keeping the tax collected aside becomes a real challenge when times are tough. It comes down to "do I pay rent, or the government"? "Do I use these last dollars to buy stock to keep my business alive, or do I remit to the government"? It's easy to "borrow" these taxes with the most sincerest intentions of returning them, but weeks and months of poor business pile on top of each other and all of a sudden, it's time to pay the taxman and there is no money in the vault!
The next step on my journey to healing my business is to file LAST YEAR'S tax return - and to file for GST and PST. I am already feeling the weight lifting off of my shoulders!