Liz Hosteler is the Founder and President of the direct selling company, Ellie Kai. Liz personally manages the company’s manufacturing and sourcing platform, while traveling the world for design inspiration. Here’s how her business journey started and how you can earn money selling made-to-order clothing for women.
Tell us a little bit about your direct sales company, Ellie Kai, and how it got started.
Living in Hong Kong, I would often have my clothes tailor-made. I would simply sketch a few ideas and draw from my years of buying beautiful clothes to come up with a shortlist of go-to pieces that I could have made for me, at an affordable price. When I returned home to the US with a suitcase of clothes that fit me perfectly, my friends and family were in awe. This was the real motivational turning point. The simple concept of choosing a perfectly fitted dress or top and having it made in the exact fabric you wanted made so much sense to everyone and a business idea started to percolate from these conversations.
I began working on a business plan and realized there was a great opportunity to take these two worlds, manufacturing and direct selling to a captive audience, and bring them together.
Do you have any previous experience in sales or the direct selling industry?
I did not have previous experience in the direct selling industry before I started Ellie Kai. I was previously in a very different sales role when I represented professional athletes for an international sports marketing agency.
What has been your biggest struggle as an entrepreneur?
In the beginning stages of building the business, I recall hearing a lot of “no” and “why?” in reaction to our model, as this was a unique approach to fashion. Now that we have developed and executed our made-for-you manufacturing process, we have great momentum, but it was hard to catch-on in the early days because it was so different.
As a busy mom, wife, and entrepreneur how do you manage it all?
It is definitely a bit of a balancing act, but I have found that I have become much more efficient over the workday, as I know it ends when my kids need help with homework. Setting priorities for the week ahead and keeping lists that address the hardest tasks first are key to getting through all of my work.
Ellie Kai offers a work-at-home business opportunity for women – tell us more about this.
Ellie Kai offers a woman the opportunity to run her own business on the most flexible terms. Our style consultants offer a personalized shopping experience while customizing garments for their clients in a relaxed social setting. Every style consultant is unique and comes from a different background, but they all have the opportunity to build their expertise, have fun styling women in made-for-you clothes, and be their own boss.
What are the startup costs for becoming an Ellie Kai style consultant, and what does the startup kit include?
The start-up cost to join our team and become an Ellie Kai Style Consultant is $195, which includes our Ready to WorKIT with all of the tools, training, and materials you need to get started booking trunk shows and selling made-for-you clothes. The kit also includes a gift card for a free dress to start your own Ellie Kai made-for-you wardrobe; the best way to sell the clothes is to wear them! Each season we release sample sets of the clothing line that can be reserved and shipped to you to sell at Trunk Shows.
What advice would you give to a new style consultant on how to build a successful business?
The key to building a successful business for a new style consultant is to network and to follow through on the connections she makes. We tell our style consultants to think broadly within their existing networks and identify women who may be interested in our brand and joining our team either as a trunk show hostess or style consultant. A tip we love to share with them is to comb through their holiday card lists to identify women who would love our clothes. We also work with our style consultants to help them expand beyond their existing network and generate interest in their communities more broadly. We suggest they wear Ellie Kai clothes around town, hand out postcards and business cards to the women that compliment them and share their passion for the business and the clothing with friends and family online.
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