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122 followers|8,455 views
122 followers|8,455 views
Thanks Todd for your comments. I am sure you will be pleased with the results of using the Magic Eraser. And if you need more mannequins, we sell "gently used" ones at discount prices.
the go-to source for anything related to buying, renting, recycling or displaying mannequins and dress forms.
Our Unlikely Start
A week before Thanksgiving in 2000, I was surfing on craigslist and saw some mannequins for sale. I had always wanted to buy one and cover it with mosaic tiles and place in my garden.
When I met the seller - a former visual merchandiser - and he had more than a few mannequins for sale. He had 50 and I bought all of them.
My decision to buy all these mannequins was NOT rational. I had never touched a mannequin before or worked in the retail industry. But when the seller casually mentioned that since he was leaving the state there would no longer be a place to rent a mannequin in the Bay Area, I had an Oprah-A-HA moment.
I had no idea who would rent a mannequin or why they would want to, but I DID know that the SF Bay area had the type of population that could support a mannequin rental business.
Since the seller was moving within a week, I had to act fast! If I had more time to ponder this, I surely would have talked myself out of doing something so out of character.
Fortunately I had a very supportive husband who encouraged me when everyone else thought I was just crazy (hence the name Mannequin Madness). My plan was work full time and run a mannequin rental business on the side.
Two weeks before Christmas the seller delivered the mannequins to our house but “forgot” to leave me his client list as promised as a condition of the deal. He said it was already packed and he would mail the client list once he got situated in his new place. I never heard from him again. I was feeling like a dummy that just got stiffed!!!
The mannequins laid in our living room until we could make room for them in our basement. I had missed the deadline to be listed in the yellow pages (remember them?) So in desperation I turned to online marketing.
In those days, a website, was still a fairly new concept for mannequin vendors.
The first week our website went live, a Canadian vendor emailed us about renting mannequins for a ski trade show he would be attending in the Bay Area. We were flabbergasted as we never thought we would have customers outside of the Bay Area – let alone out of the country!
My husband and I cold called every retail store in town to let them know that we rented mannequins so they could refer their customers to us (Retail stores don't rent mannequins but get asked all the time to loan them out). While doing this I discovered that Sears was eliminating mannequins in their stores.
I convinced most of the Sears stores in the area to sell their mannequins to me instead of throwing them in the garbage, which is what most retailers do. Mannequins are made of non-biodegradable materials and don’t belong in the landfill.
The Accidental Entrepreneur
Suddenly our inventory went from 50 to over 500 mannequins in less than six months as we drove all over the Bay Area in a rented cargo van picking up mannequins from Sears. And we were still operating out of our home so the mannequins were everywhere! In our basement, backyard, in our garage, in boxes down the driveway.
But now I had enough inventory to sell mannequins instead of only renting them. My plan to work full time while growing the business was working - well at least for six months it did. Then 9/11 happened and the company I was working for went bankrupt.
After the shock and anger wore off, I did some soul-searching and decided I wanted to make some changes in my life. I had never wanted to be an entrepreneur after my attempt to do so 10 years earlier ended in bitter failure.
Although my mannequin business was still fledging it brought me joy and passion. In light of the world events (then as well as now), I felt life was too short to not live with joy and passion. So rather than look for another job, I decided that I would work at Mannequin Madness full-time. And twoyears later when my husband got laid off, he joined me working full time at Mannequin Madness
Green is the new Black
I had no idea that so many people wanted to buy used mannequins – whether because of the price or because they were looking for something specific that was no longer in production. Suddenly we were shipping used mannequins all over the country and sometimes internationally.
Then suddenly recycling became the socially responsible thing for retailers to do so we were able to acquire a wider variety of used mannequins.
Nordstrom, Nike, Ralph Lauren and Kohl’s - were some of our best customers as they were the early adopters for mannequin recycling. Some of them recycled for purely economic versus social reasons. It is cheaper to have Mannequin Madness recycle their mannequins than paying dumpster fees.
The Environmental Protection Agency gave us a special achievement award for recycling over 100,000 pounds of mannequins - in one year.
Hanging in There
In 2007 we moved into 1300 square foot warehouse and established strategic partners all over the country - and Europe. We now sell new and used mannequins and offer mannequin rentals in various cities throughout the US.
We repair mannequins, blog about mannequins and rent out our warehouse to people who want to photograph or film mannequins.
We've won numerous business awards, been featured on CNN multiple times and been written about in wide range of publications and met thousands of creative people. And while I didn't plan on being a green business, we are very proud of the difference we make in reducing the environmental footprint of the retail industry.
Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would have so much fun and such success working with a bunch of “stiffs and dummies.”
While owning your own business is never easy (unless you are Bill Gates or the Google Guys) I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
Life is never boring at Mannequin Madness!
Small Business Technology Institute and Intel Corporation Announce Grand Prize Winner of The World of Difference Nationwide Contest, Featured in 'My Encore Moment' Story, Wells Fargo, Turning Point Magazine Bestow 3rd Annual 'Living History Maker Entrepreneur Award' to Pioneering African American Businesswoman, Achievement Award from the Environmental Protection Agency