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Saturday, November 15, 2014

shop & support moms - Christine Coutu - THIRTY ONE!

Thank you to my dear friend Christine Coutu, Thirty One Consultant, for sharing her amazing thoughts on being an active business-woman AND stay at home mom to her sweet daughter! I love her ideas about how to be the best mom for her family, and yet to continue to do something for herself, have time away, and be productive outside the home as well.

Another part of our Shop & Support Moms series this month, I'm hoping you LOVE Thirty One bags as much as I do. They are such great holiday gifts, or baby shower gifts - fill up a bag with baby items from the registry. I love more than anything that I know Christine personally and with every purchase you make from her I KNOW that you are making her day, helping boost her confidence that she's made for this SAHM role AND doing something for herself to contribute money toward their family and new house. It's a win-win for sure!

Scroll down to find out the giveaway incentive!

All images from Christine Coutu 

1. How did you start your business? Why did you want your own business? When did you start your business?
I started my business as an independent consultant for Thirty-One Gifts in August of this year.  I didn’t know any other consultants so looked for one in my area by going online to the Thirty-One website.  I found Barb, my director, and began talking to her through email about joining.  I became a consultant because I really loved a bag I had bought 5 years ago for work, the Cindy Tote.  I was not gentle with that bag by any means, and it had held up REALLY well.  I was quite impressed and knew that if I was going to do anything in direct sales, that I wanted something I could stand behind and believed in.  

My bigger “why” for becoming a consultant honestly, was so that I could give to my family in a different way, I had just left my full time job and become a stay at home mom after my daughter was born in March, and I as much as I loved being a SAHM, I knew I needed another kind of outlet.  

In addition, we just moved from Maine to New Hampshire and I knew that doing this would be a great way of forcing me to get out and meet people and make connections.  The extra money that I make with Thirty-One sales goes to saving for improvements on our home that we’d like to cash flow someday.

2. Why was working at home a perfect situation for you and your family?
Being a stay at home mom, I’m able to do my work during nap time, in the morning or at night while Olivia is sleeping.  I did not want to work all day in the field I was working (education) and then come home and have to shift gears to be a mom. I knew that my job as a school counselor was incredibly emotionally draining and I feared that I would not have enough to give to my daughter because I gave so much to my kids at school.  By working at home in this kind of a job, I truly believe I am able to be a better mom.  

What I do with Thirty-One is not emotionally taxing all day long, I am able to get out and have fun with other women and I still feel like I’m a professional and am being challenged in many ways.  All of these things make me a better mom.  

I think it’s important for every SAHM to have an outlet, a place they can go or something they can do that will fulfill them.  This makes me a better mom, and my husband a better dad too because he can spend time with my daughter and they are able to share and make memories together while I’m not around.  I am very intentional in that, I want my daughter to grow up remembering special moments she shared with just her Daddy, and I desire the same for my husband.  Their relationship is one of the most important ones Olivia will have and because I’m home with her all the time, it is a priority of mine that they have some alone time too to help foster and develop that relationship.

3. What does your business specialize in? What's your favorite product?
Thirty-One Gifts is a company that specializes in bags, storage systems and other organizational products.  I LOVE our products.  They are perfect for the busy mom, working woman, business man, anyone really.  I use at least one 31 product every day.  Right now, I’d have to say that my favorite is our On A Stroll Bag.  It’s PERFECT for moms.  I clip it right to the back of my drivers seat in the car and use it when I run errands.  If I am using a cart, I just hook it on that, if I am using our stroller, it gets attached to that.  There’s a zipper pouch that’s perfect for Olivia’s pacifier and two small mesh pockets that I put my keys and phone in.  A big mesh pocket fits a few toys, extra change of clothes, diaper, wipes etc.  It’s fantastic!  I am also a HUGE fan of our Large Utility Tote - perfect for groceries or laundry!

4. What do you love best about working from home?
Making my own schedule!  Hands down.  It’s the best!  I LOVE that I can do work in my pj’s, when Olivia is napping or whatnot.  I also love that if I want to put it aside for a day or two to focus on family or other things, I can.  I do parties when I want to and don’t when I don’t want to - it works really well!  The fact that we are not relying on this as actual income to pay our bills has also allowed me to feel like there’s no major pressure when it comes to working this job, which is amazing.  

5. When working, where do you set up shop in your home? When do you work in the day/evening? What's your process for working?
HAHA. That’s a funny question.  So - we just moved.  Before we bought our house, we were living with my grandparents in their half finished basement.  I started Thirty-One while we were living with them.  I didn’t have a specific “office space” so really my work was done in the living room/ our main living area.  Now, in our house, we have a room for an office.  However, it’s not organized yet.  We literally moved in 2 weeks ago!  So while my bags are not in the main living area and instead piled in with unpacked boxes etc in our office, the main living room is still where I’m doing the majority of my work.  I cannot wait for our office to be put together!!!

6. Take me step by step through sending someone's package to them.. what speial things do you include in there ? How do you wrap them up?  Do you get nervous when you send packages to people?
When you order a product through Thirty-One, the products get shipped either to the hostess of the party or to me.  I do many parties in Maine, so most often things are sent to the hostesses.  However, when an order is shipped to me, I use our pink Thirty-One bags to place each person's order in.  I also put a “thank you” postcard that I made on Vistaprint offering an incentive for booking a party with me. 

When I do book a party - if I’m doing an at home party with someone, I give them one of my hostess packets.  It’s a very nice pink folder with my business card, a cover letter from me thanking them for hosting and explaining what is in the folder, a letter explaining what they should expect from me as their Thirty-One consultant when it comes to their party, tips for them on how to best earn the most rewards, ordering information and tips, catalogs, order forms and a wish list that they make for themselves of items they hope to earn for free or ½ price.  

When I’m at a home party, I do a booking game so many people will earn rewards for booking a party.  For instance, $5 in extra hostess credit, free personalization on one item, tax free shopping spree (if they live in a taxed state) etc.  If I am booking a Facebook party, the packet is essentially the same but there are some elements that are different because by nature, a facebook party is different from an at home party.  

7. What is your success rate? How many orders so far?
I’m doing pretty well.  I have had quite a few more facebook than at home parties.  Being a people person I much prefer at home parties.  I’ve found that it’s easier for customers because they are able to touch and see and try the products out as opposed to looking at them online or pictures that I post.  However, since the majority of people I know are in Maine, many of my at home parties are there.  I love this because I love my job and whatnot.  However, it really eats into my commission when I have to drive all the way to Maine (1.5 hours+) to go to a party.  I’ve started to offer booking incentives to those who book parties on the same weekend in Maine to try and get the most out of my trips.  I am really looking forward to booking more parties in NH and MA, closer to home for me!

8. Why do you think people should buy these products, and why should they support moms who work for these types of companies from home?
Thirty-One is the perfect company for busy moms like us!  Their products are so helpful when it comes to organizing, well, our lives really! hahaha.  

Supporting moms like me is so wonderful.  By doing so you are providing me or anyone like me with an opportunity to get out and have some girl time (I even love the simple fact that on my way to a show I can blast my music and sing along without having to worry about sensitive baby ears!). Also, the extra money that these ladies make from whatever direct sales company I can guarantee you is going toward the betterment of their families.  Some women do depend on their DS job to pay their bills.  Others, like myself are fortunate enough to allow it to be our “excess” cash.  Still others use it to pay for their kids’ sports, Christmas gifts, and other extras that they may not have the money for otherwise.  

9. What are your favorite homemade or company sellers to buy from?
I honestly was never a direct sales person before I became one lol  However, I must say that I have been to  a Scentsy party and really liked their products, and I recently bought some Younique makeup and am so glad I did.  I’m in LOVE with my 3D mascara!  While I don’t have any specific people per se that I buy from, I really love supporting other moms with their DS companies or with whatever etsy shop they may have.

10. How does your business allow you to be a great mother?
By allowing me to take time away from my daughter.  I love Olivia so very much.  However, I need my space sometimes. By being a 31 consultant, I’m really allowed to get away from my daughter for a little while, spend time laughing and having fun with a bunch of women and then go back to my daughter!  It’s wonderful.  I feel re-energized afterwards and so happy to be back with her again.  It’s nice to have the opportunity to miss my daughter, it brings perspective to life as a SAHM.

11. What do you think would surprise readers to know about you?
I hate cats.  Absolutely, hands down hate them.  I don’t know why.  I just do.  I can’t stand them. Lol.  I am nice to them, and tolerate being around them.  However, you won’t catch me cuddling up with one any time soon hahaha.

12. What is the coolest thing you've ever experienced as part of working with this business?
Overcoming my fear of not being “good enough”.  This is something that I have struggled with ALL my life.  I did REALLY well with getting rid of that with a lot of prayer and conversations and support with close friends and my husband. This business has been the perfect opportunity for all of that to come up again.  I’m learning how to recognize it, and how to squash it.  My desire to quit this business so early on was because of that fear.  I didn’t think I’d make a good consultant, thought it was stupid of me to even try doing this “who was I to think that I could do something like this!?”.  However, sticking with it has broken that weight off of me and I feel so much better about my place in this business.  Do I still have a lot to learn? HECK YEAH!  BUT - I’m willing to do it!
13. What is one of your favorite gifts to give someone for the holidays?
I LOVE personalizing gifts.  Making them fit whomever I am giving them to!  If I had to choose a product from our current catalog, I’d say that I would definitely go with our little carry all caddy.  I LOVE these things.  They are these little totes you can use for anything and make the perfect little gift basket!  I would use one of these and stuff it with small gifts that would make the recipient smile!  They also would make a great substitute for stockings!

14. How many kids do you have? Give us one word to describe them
We have Olivia who is our 7 month old.  She is our “miracle” baby.  Then, we have Annie who is our puppy lol.  I count her as our kid because she certainly behaves like one.  I’d say “vivacious” is her word!

I am doing a Penguin Waddle between now and December 6th.  I will send participants a packet with everything they need to participate.  They need to just get $100 in orders back to me by December 6th to be entered to win a prize.  The person who brings in the most sales in orders will earn an additional prize of a pair of earrings.  
Customers who order through this website between now and December 1st 
will earn a free gift on all orders over $31.
Head here for all the latest and greatest 31 info, to play games and earn booking prizes.

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