As I think about all that 2017 has in store for me personally and professionally, I find myself reflecting a lot about the past year. Currently, a number of my friends have gathered in San Diego for cabi Scoop – the biannual training and fashion show for cabi stylists. But I opted not to join them. For a number of reasons, I determined that it was in my (and my family’s) best interest if I cut my cabi career short, and through a three part post (this week and the next two) I am going to share why.
But before I get into all the practical and philosophical reasons behind my decision let me start by saying I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE cabi clothes. I was first introduced to cabi back in 2009 when one of my good friends had a party. I was puzzled when I received the invite with adorable dress logo on the front – I had never heard of cabi clothing before and wondered what it was all about. I quickly learned that cabi is an L.A. based fashion company that sells boutique-inspired clothing exclusively through cabi stylists at fashion experiences or one-on-one shopping events.
At my first show, or fashion experience in company lingo, the stylist introduced us to the company and then presented each piece in the entire line to the group of women assembled in my friend’s living room. I was immediately drawn to some pieces, skeptical of other “trends” and a little put off by the price tags. Nonetheless, I wound up trying on a pair of gray jeans, size 4, and they felt incredible. At that time I was about 4 months post-partum and my body was still transitioning back to normal. When I slipped those jeans on I looked good. And I felt good. And all the women at the party made sure I knew it. I had to have those jeans! I also picked out a cute black striped sweater that I could wear to work and reluctantly handed my credit card over for the $200+ charge. Each piece was just over $100. Up until that point I had NEVER spent that much on a pair of jeans. EVER!
But, fueled by the encouragement of all my friends (some old and some new, because getting half-naked in front of strangers is one way to cement fast friendships) and my very own professional stylist, as well as the unspoken but very real hostess expectation that I was going to purchase something, I went ahead and bit the bullet. And then I spent the next week regretting my decision. I cursed the two glasses of wine I had drunk that night (I was still a nursing Mom at that point so wasn’t drinking much) and blamed them for my impulsive decision. I worried that the jeans wouldn’t look or feel as good as I remembered. I was afraid my new friends had misled me and the stylist just wanted to make a sale. In fact, I was convinced (and somewhat relieved) I’d be sending back the entire order.
And then the jeans were delivered to my doorstep. I hurriedly ran to my closet to try them on and they fit like a glove. I loved them as much as, if not more than, I remembered. They quickly became one of my favorite items of clothing and I was wearing them so much that I found myself scouring the Internet look for other colors. (Regretfully, there is no picture of those jeans because that was well before I was taking selfies, I suffered from invisible-mom syndrome and was never featured in any pictures and the jeans are now too big so were lovingly donated several years back). I did not then understand that cabi only offered a very limited line, containing one, or perhaps two, color choice(s) each season. I also didn’t understand that I couldn’t purchase cabi on the Internet (this is not longer true). So, I was disappointed that I couldn’t find my new favorite jeans in another color.
Anyway, as much as I loved those jeans it was a couple years before I was invited to my second party. This time when the invite came I knew what I was in for. I circled the date on my calendar and waited in anticipation for the event. When the Fashion Experience started I excitedly checked items on my try-on sheet and couldn’t wait to fall in love with some new pieces. I still didn’t love everything, but I was drawn to the business pieces and looking to upgrade my professional wardrobe. By this time I was in a different place financially and the price tags didn’t frighten me as much. However, I decided the best way to maximize my dollar would be to host a show of my own. Hostesses receive a certain number of items at half price, as well as cabi dollars, which reduces their total out of pocket expense based on the size of the show.
We had recently moved into a new house, and the cabi name was still a relative curiosity to most of my friends. I knew those two factors would attract guests. Plus, many of us still had young children – which allowed us the luxury of hanging out with our girlfriends during the after dinner hour when our spouses were home (those were the days – lol). I figured I’d host a show and see what happened. And what a show it was! I think I earned 13 items at half-off. My sales were well over $4000. I couldn’t even use all the half-off items I earned. (At the time, hostesses had to purchase all their personal items at the time the show was closed. Now, hostesses can bank their unused benefits and use them at any time during the season – which is a huge advantage for hostesses). I was thrilled with my new pieces and well on my way to becoming a true “cabi-girl.”
Over the next couple of years, the cabi name grew modestly in popularity and there was always a show or two I could attend to pick up some pieces. I had a couple more shows of my own, which never yielded the same results as that first show, but overall were worthwhile experiences. And as the years passed I noticed that more and more of my closet real estate was being taken over by cabi. But it definitely was a friendly takeover.
About two years ago, after I left my academic position and was floundering with what I wanted to be when I grew up, my stylist asked if I’d ever considered cabi as a career. I was mildly intrigued, but also scared senseless – I had never sold anything before. It also wasn’t the right time. I had a series of extended family obligations that caused me to split my time between two states and taking care of my own family and my extended family was a full time job. Flash forward nine months later and the family saga had ended in tragedy. I was tired, sad, grieving, despondent and desperate for something new. When my stylist again suggested I consider a career with cabi I decided to hear her out. Now, if you take nothing else away from these posts, please, please, please take this away – DO NOT, I repeat DO NOT ever make a major life decision three weeks into the grieving process. Deciding to change careers and launch a brand new business while in the midst of brand new grief is not advisable. I picked cabi because it was offered to me at the right, but oh so wrong, time. I was ready to leave the sickness and sadness behind, to throw myself into something new, to live life to the fullest, to find some happiness again. And I was completely and utterly incapable of making a rational decision.
DO NOT, I repeat DO NOT ever make a major life decision three weeks into the grieving process.”
But, nonetheless, I met with my stylist and she set out a strong argument, crafted directly by cabi, about why I would make a perfect cabi stylist. And I fell for it hook, line and sinker.
So last January, I packed my bags and headed to San Diego with 3500 other women for my first Scoop. After prior careers in law, academia and education I was super excited to launch my new career as a fashion stylist, complete with a runway fashion show!! The trip was at once fabulous, did I mention the fashion show? frustrating, because of the lack of real, tangible training on either the line or how to sell it, and frazzling – it was really difficult for me to leave my kiddos behind during the school year. And I did mention that my first Scoop coincided with my daughter’s 10th birthday. Sigh.
And, if I am 100% honest, that Scoop was the highlight of my cabi career. Come back next week to find out why.