A friend recently posted the following image on her Facebook page. I saw it and instantly it registered with me. I realised immediately that there was one aspect of my life where I was severely stuck in my comfort zone.
I am very proud to be one of the co-founders of a gorgeous organic line of baby clothing – Baby Teresa. For each romper we sell we also donate another to a baby in need somewhere in the world.
The donation aspect of the program has always been my “baby” (for want of a better word). I’m in my “comfort zone” organising donations, conducting them, liaising with the people involved; it’s the whole reason I got involved with my lovely partner Sammie in the clothing line.
Given that we’ve just launched our organic line and our product range is substantially different (and better) to our last, what the organisation really needed was someone on the ground getting us into stores.
It’s been a really long time since I’ve sold in a retail sense, let alone walking into a store and cold-selling the owners on a new product. That I’ve never done. It was outside my comfort zone, in an industry I am not 100% familiar with (unlike my comfort zone of real estate) and an industry where no one had ever heard of me.
I’ll admit, I was doing a lot to push the responsibility further and further way. I was making excuses like, “Well as soon as we have the packaging I’ll try and get us some stockists”.
Cut to me seeing the image above. Recognising that I was in a massive comfort zone rut and actually getting off my butt and walking into some stores and saying hello.
Day 1 out of my comfort zone
I visited two stores. Neither had the correct person there that I needed to speak to. I left samples at both and walked away slightly dejected as these were the two stores I really wanted to stock my product in my hometown.
Half an hour later I received a call back from one of the stores, the owner was now in and could I come back and chat. You bet I could! I raced back there, had a great chat with the owner of the store and secured our first stockist in my hometown. The owner of this store “got” our product, she had a personal connection to the donations we do overseas and I knew from one minute that the pitch was going down a treat and that we were on the same page.
I was on such a high, that I let the other store I’d been hoping to land that would target a different market filter out of my mind somewhat. I had been hoping to go back into the stores a few days later and see if they’d looked over my samples.
Much to my horror I started to make excuses again! I couldn’t go in on that day because that’s the day I was home with my little girl and it wouldn’t be possible. I could have kicked myself. Fast-forward almost a week and I forced myself to pick up the phone and ask if the lady I needed to speak to was in that day. She wasn’t and she was working from home. I did however get her email and popped a nice email through to her hoping to catch up. If I hadn’t pushed myself to make that second contact I wouldn’t have received the email I did later that night confirming that this store would also like to stock Baby Teresa!
Two attempts, both first choices, two new stockists. What was I so afraid of?
Day 2 out of my comfort zone
The familiar feeling of dread set back in as I made my way into another shop where I’d had a personal introduction made in the other end of my gorgeous state. This meeting did not go well. Again, I knew a minute that this shop wasn’t going to take on our product (despite how well I thought it suited). A hit and miss.
What was important from here? That I didn’t let it defeat me. That I didn’t pout because my perfect record was broken. That I got off my butt, out of my comfort zone and back out the door again.
Day 3 out of my comfort zone
This Saturday just gone I set up a bit of an epic road trip. I had my 15-month-old daughter with me and we were going to hit eight stores (recommended to us by fans of our product on Facebook) along the north west Tasmanian coast. My goal was to get two new stockists for Baby Teresa that day.
My first stop was less than encouraging. In fact, it was pretty unpleasant. My daughter wriggled and groaned about in my arms, I dropped my presentation kit and the shop owner was in no way keen to have me there.
The temptation to turn the car around was high!
Despite that, I kept on with the plan. I went into seven different shops that day (one had moved and I couldn’t track them down) and had seven really different experiences. I met lovely business owners, I met great staff and I had ups and downs.
I left at the end of the day with one confirmed order and a great new stockist and another lovely shop keen to stock our product – but the set up for the store didn’t ideally work with our overall vision. It wasn’t the two stockists I aimed for, but it was one great one and I did actually spot another target on the way home, and although they were closed, we’re chatting online right now and I’m hopeful of another great stockists that way soon.
So that was my first three days really outside my comfort zone in what I’m embarrassed to say has been some time in a professional capacity. I’ve owned real estate agencies since I was 21, showing up at my “day job” at Elephant Property is so far inside my comfort zone that it’s as comfy and warm as my bed in the morning. That’s not a terrible thing! I love the feeling when I walk into work, I love that over the years I’ve put in the work to earn that feeling of comfort.
BUT, if I don’t push myself outside that comfort zone, whether it’s with Baby Teresa, my photography, my personal life, my travels, my adventures and in other aspects of Elephant Property, I’ll never be more than I am today.
Those three days outside my comfort zone are the first of many to come. One day was perfect, two stockists approached, two gained. One was a disaster, one stockist approached, one big fat rejection. One was a great end result with mixed reactions.
I guess that just goes to prove that when you’re outside your comfort zone there are no guarantees. Life is unpredictable, but I must say the smile on my face at the end of days one and three was big. The sense of accomplishment was huge. That’s where my magic happened in April, 2012. In May, that magic’s going on the road as Sammie and I head over to Victoria to find great stockists there.
Where is your magic going to happen in May?
Kirsty Dunphey is the youngest ever Australian Telstra Young Business Woman of the Year, author of two books (her latest release is Retired at 27, If I Can do it Anyone Can) and a passionate entrepreneur who started her first business at age 15 and opened her own real estate agency at 21. Now Kirsty does lots of fun things which you can read about here. Her favourite current projects are Elephant Property, a boutique property management agency, Baby Teresa, a baby clothing line that donates an outfit to a baby in need for each one they sell and ReallySold, which helps real estate agents stop writing boring, uninteresting ads.