Christine Carter opened her very own marketing firm, Epps Consulting in 2007. Epps Consulting focuses on creating campaigns and developing marketing plans for many local fashion businesses. Her passion for being an entrepreneur has always been a key part of her life.
“I was inspired to start my own business long before I started my professional career,” Carter said. My parents have both been successful in operations, specifically management, so I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit.
Retail marketing became my passion because I’m fascinated by consumer buying habits- what makes a customer buy an item from Store A if Store B sells it at the same price point?”
To prep for her fashion marketing career, Carter gained experience managing employees at big box and small retail companies.
“I also diversified my skills- as a new small business owner you don’t have the budget to rely on a marketing, public relations, accounting, and HR department to assist you,” Carter said.
Who was your first client? What do you remember about that experience?
“My first client was 5 Wacky Women in Cockeysville, MD,” Carter said. I had a small sample of graphic design work to show the owner, and frequently referenced my previous position as Director of Marketing for a regional retailer to show my experience.
I was nervous and really wanted the new business; however I made recommendations with the client’s best interest in mind and communicated them clearly and honestly. I also made it no secret that she would be my first client.
That was nearly 6 years ago, and to this day I see that Epps Consulting is different from other marketing firms because I communicate clearly and honestly with all my clients.”
What are some typical tasks for a fashion marketer?
“Because the Internet has revolutionized the way retailers are perceived and patronized by consumers, most of my projects for clients now revolve around social media, email marketing, and web design,” Carter said. I still have projects that involve brand identity, which is my true passion. I love creating one-of-a-kind logos and business cards for retailers.”
What has been your best career defining moment?
“That’s a heavy phrase,” said Carter. I have a memorable moment, which occurred three years ago when I was working on Baltimore Retail Week with Downtown Partnership. Our goal was to increase downtown Baltimore retail sales.
Retailers who participated in Baltimore Retail Week had to discount their sales by 6% for one week in April. We were worried that the event wouldn’t encourage consumers to shop downtown, but after the event was done 54% of the consumers said the promotion convinced them to visit a retailer they would not have otherwise.”
What are some challenges you have encountered throughout your career?
“I have encountered numerous challenges- I am frequently the youngest professional in networking events (which often equates to “inexperienced” to some) and I also have seen my ideas duplicated by other firms,” Carter said. Regardless of the challenges, it’s important to let your clients and your work speak for itself.
I am young; however I have experience in this field. And firms will try and duplicate my projects, but they can only duplicate the final result, not the inception or execution.”
Christine Carter’s Tips for Aspiring Fashion Marketer:
Listen to all advice given to you, but adapt it to fit your current situation. There are others who have been in the field longer than you, but times have changed. Just because an older marketing consultant tells you to not worry about your client’s online presence because it’s too new a medium to predict doesn’t mean you have to abide by their word. That was a true statement… 20 years ago.
Business is not school… there is such a thing as a dumb question (regardless of who says differently). Make sure you’ve done research on the topic you’re asking a question about- questions in meetings or at networking events should be follow up questions… and the great ones can be taken offline, giving you more one-on-one time with the person you’ve asked the question to.
Don’t be afraid to speak your mind. Memorable, influential, game-changing people always do.
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