We met charming Pauline Durban one year ago, as she was about to launch her line of flattering tops, under the Covered Perfectly label. Happily, Pauline chose FabOverFifty to help her get the word out about her collection. Designed especially for those of us who wish to cover certain parts of our bodies (think jiggling underarms and pooching bellies), and look good, too, the tops lived up to their name.
We recently talked to Pauline about her entrepreneurial experiences.
What’s been the best, most rewarding thing about this first year as an entrepreneur?
So many great things have happened. If I had to pick one, it would be the amount of amazing feedback that I have received from happy customers. There is nothing more rewarding than receiving an email from a customer who loves my tops, the service, and the fact that I’m catering to a market that most designers seem to have forgotten. Just today, I received an email from a woman in Australia who adores her top, and couldn’t believe how quickly she received it. Covered Perfectly ships worldwide, so we are starting to have customers everywhere. Finding the right tops seems to be an international problem that I’m happy to solve!
The absolute worst, most disappointing thing?
Nothing has really disappointed me. I believe everything is a lesson. However, patience is something I have to practice daily. It is always quite a process, from creation to implementation of new designs, and I want them right away, just like my customers.
The biggest surprise?
Definitely lack of returns. The national average is 33 percent, and when I decided to offer free shipping both ways, I assumed my returns would be around that. I’m ecstatic to report that our returns are running at about 12 percent, which says a lot about product quality and value.
What’s one piece of advice you have for women wishing to start their own businesses?
Have nerves of steel and good work ethics. I invested my life savings into Covered Perfectly, which was quite scary.
As a single woman, I had no one to fall back on. I went through all the what ifs. What if I lose all my money? What if I’m wrong? What if no one buys my tops?
The list went on and on! I’m grateful to my friends and family for their help in pushing me through any doubts. I’ve met so many wonderful people along the way, who have helped me get the word out about Covered Perfectly. Geri, at FabOverFifty, was one of them. She has been amazing, sharing the tops with her audience. I love her!
Secondly, you have to have top-notch customer service. Your customers have to be your #1 priority at all times. You are not looking for one-time customers, so it is important that you provide them with a superior-quality product, and service that is second to none. One of our customers has purchased 16 Covered Perfectly tops. That’s almost as many as I have!
How is your business doing? Did it fall behind, meet or exceed expectations?
It actually exceeded my expectations. I know that many companies don’t survive the first year, so I am grateful that we made it through. I truly believe this coming year is going to be even better, with so many customers joining us every day. Many of them are referred through other customers, which is wonderful. You can’t beat word of mouth! Thank you to each and every one of you for sharing!
Looking back, would you have done anything differently?
I did most everything while flying by the seat of my pants. I had an idea, found a production company to make my idea come to life, set up a web site, and then thought ‘now what?’ It took a few months to figure out how to get the word out to my target market. My advice would be to do your research and determine how you are going to reach your target customers. I was lucky to make it though those tough first few months.
Top three best sellers?
Simple Comfort remains the #1 best seller. It’s a classic staple that is great for dressing up or down, plus, and it’s perfect for layering. It’s fast becoming a must have in every customer’s wardrobe. It’s very rare that it’s not included in an order, especially since I offer customers the option to buy two tops and get a third one free. We now carry Simple Comfort in 10 colors as well as numerous prints.
Mandy comes in second. This fabulous design has great drape and covers a multitude of sins. I recently added five gorgeous, figure-flattering prints.
Off the Shoulder is the third biggest seller. This sexy top drapes your body perfectly. Due to popular demand, we will be adding this style in teal since our Facebook fans voted it as their favorite color.
I primarily use MicroModal fabric, which is super-soft and absolutely scrumptious. It is pure luxury and customers love the way it feels against their skin. I recently added a top-quality spun polyester fabric with just the right touch of Spandex. It’s extremely soft, and will never need ironing. It comes out of the washing machine without a wrinkle. Ahh… heaven!
Any plans to expand into different items?
For now, my focus is tops. I have been asked about dresses, so I’m pretty sure I will add them in the future. Stay tuned!
I recently added a stunning Cascading Vest, in four prints, which customers love. I have shipped more of them in the first week than any other top. ‘One Size’ fits small to XL, and ‘One Size Plus’ fits 1X to 4X. My goal is to offer a print to match every color top.
Enter code FOF at checkout for 20% off your order!