It is a sad day in the direct sales community, as Denise DeMarchis, founder of Matilda Jane lost her battle with cancer. Our thoughts and prayers go out to her family and the Matilda Jane community.
Rest in peace, Denise.
What did you do before launching your own business?
Ahh … what didn’t I do? I have always been about “if you don’t love it, don’t do it” which led to many jobs from Kentucky Fried Chicken to a sales rep at Coca-Cola to a manager at Claire’s in the mall. When I was about 24, I dove head over heels into the art fair circuit. I traveled the Midwest selling painted furniture. Twelve years later it turned into designing clothing all because a friend was looking for work for her seamstresses.
How did you fund your business?
My husband and I have always been very frugal and wise about our finances. We have funded Matilda Jane Clothing on our own since the start. He was a teacher and I just kept booking more art fairs to make money. The company has grown tremendously since the start and I’m almost embarrassed to say we had to use a line of credit in January, which we paid off a month later. It was our first debt and oh, made me so nervous.
How many hours do you work a week and how much is spent in your home office?
I work crazy hours. Work seldom leaves my brain and I physical work about 80 hours a week. I love my job, it consumes me. I think I am at this computer desk a good 6-7 hours a day and the rest of the day is filled with picking up kids, running into the office to check in, and going through McDonald’s to get a Diet Coke.
How would you rate your success?
Pretty amazing! I had no ideas or plans to even grow a company so big. A former boss once told me I would never amount to anything. I set out to prove him wrong and that was pretty much the reason I started the Trunk Show line (direct sales) of Matilda Jane.
Or are you asking how I rate if I am successful? If so, then hands down, if my girls at work are happy, my customers happy, and we are all able to communicate openly and freely, then we are doing a great job.
What has been your biggest business struggle as an entrepreneur?
There is not one that really trumps all the others. It has been hard not to let the negative things eat me up and it has been hard to find time to be a good friend and mom. Running a business is hard and very challenging, but if it were easy then everyone would do it, right? I’m always up to push myself to the limit to make something happen.
What advice would you give to a new entrepreneur?
Don’t give up. Don’t look for all the reasons you can’t do it. Don’t spend all your time planning it and looking for a reason you may fail. Do go out there and do it the best you possibly can and when you do succeed (cuz you will if you believe in yourself) stay true to your core.
How do you manage all of your personal and business activities?
Truth? I don’t manage it all. I surround myself with great friends and co-workers. We all rely on each other. I’d be lying if I did not say I have a mental breakdown weekly. It is high stress running Matilda Jane. It is great fun as well so they pretty much balance each other out.
Thanks to Denise Dana DeMarchis for sharing her story!
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