Montelle Reps Share Strong Industry Experience

CURVENY

Above: CURVENEWYORK Photo by Becky Yee of Around Digital Media.

As you walk onto the show floor, your eyes see racks of lingerie, flashes of rose gold, lace and silks. There are models posing, designers and buyers huddled over samples, and camera phones snapping away.

Booths at CURVE buzz with activity and sometimes it’s difficult to meet with your favorite brands even with three days on tap.

Montelle Intimates

You can contact the Montelle rep in your area by reaching out to annette@montelle.ca.

So, as we get closer to trade events in New York, we wanted our readers to meet two sales reps from one of the busiest booths at CURVE – Montelle Intimates. We asked the brand to refer us to two reps who would provide unique and distinct perspectives on Montelle, life as a rep, and the industry in general.

Fleurt Booth

Maybe they are familiar faces already, or maybe you missed an opportunity to speak with them during a busy market week. Either way, the pair has differences in age, gender and region that provide very different perspectives of the industry.

John Festa and Sarah Carter

We caught up with John and Sarah to learn a little bit more about their background, their lives outside of lingerie, and their take on the current state of the industry, challenges in the retail environment and what they love most about Montelle.

Meet John Festa

John Festa

Prior to working as an intimate apparel rep, Festa was in the real estate business. He says the career choice wasn’t right for him so when someone in his building was hired as the vice president of sales for a small intimates company called Bamboo, he jumped at the opportunity to interview with them. “And of course I thought the whole thing was ridiculous, you know, I was going to sell bras?,” he says. “It was absolutely ridiculous. I did go for the interview and nonetheless they offered me a position and because I was looking to make a change.” I said, ‘Yes,’ and it turned out to be a good move.”

Lusome

Above: Lusomé’s brand new grey heather stripe in the Bette top with mesh insert and the Audrey cropped jogger.

This will be Festa’s third year with Montelle. Before he joined the team he had noticed the brand, even considered writing about them for a blog he maintained called Johnny Lingerie. At the time, he didn’t know that much about Montelle but thought that the line had a good position in the industry. It didn’t take long to realize that they also have great price points and quality garments. “It sells,” he says. “The fit is great, they’re very market responsive, and the customer service from Montelle, and the whole Montelle group, is just remarkable.”

John Festa

Outside of the intimate apparel industry, Festa is a notable swing dancer. He started in ballet but began swing because of his family. “My parents and my extended family never stopped dancing, even when swing went out of style,” he says. “All of my cousins, myself, we learned how to dance early because our parents were having so much fun and we wanted to participate. It was just so much fun. When the swing revival happened in the 90s I was ready. I loved it so much that I got very involved, and I still dance. I do a version of swing called, ‘West Coast Swing,’ and I’m still going to functions, teaching, judging, DJing.”

Miel Mimi Bandeau and Iris Culotte for SS18

Above: Miel Mimi Bandeau and Iris Culotte for SS18.

He says the two areas of his life stay separated but that they do have one thing in common—a need for social, personal interactions. “Sales is a more personal relationship as much as it is product relationship,” he says. “Many different manufacturers are making the same thing, and if you make it easy for people to do business with you it helps. I guess it’s the same with the swing dancing. Social dancing is social.”

Meet Sarah Carter

Sarah Carter
Carter can thank her mother for her start in the lingerie industry. In 2003 her mother retired and decided to open a lingerie boutique. Carter was set to travel to Thailand to teach English but changed her plans in order to help her mother open the business. “She said, ‘I don’t think you really want to teach, I think you just want to travel. I know you want to learn how to start a business so why don’t you come help me do this.’ I just fell in love with it and it was awesome,” says Carter.

She’s been working in the industry since—she worked for large retailers such as H&M before becoming a rep for Fleur’t Lingerie.

Rebecca Ulrich-Dodson, Sarah Clark and Patti Platt

Carter is now a mom herself and is fitting her new life at home into her current role with Montelle. Her son, Dillon, turned one in December and has already traveled to over thirty places for business.

“He’s been more places [in] his first year than most people probably go their entire lives,” she says. “We took him to Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, all up and down California, Washington, Nevada, New York, Las Vegas, Maryland, South Carolina, North Carolina – he’s been everywhere.”

Montelle Group Shot

What makes traveling with her son easier is her husband’s flexible work schedule and supportive retail accounts. “The good thing about our industry is that pretty much all of the people that I work with are working moms,” she says. “Sometimes when my husband and baby are with me retailers say, ‘Don’t be silly. Don’t have them walk around,’ or ‘Don’t have them sitting in the car, have them come in.’” One store had a baby swing that Carter’s son was able to use during the appointment, and another had toys on hand for mothers shopping with their young children. “We were just going through the collection while Dillon was on the floor playing with toys, so that was really nice.”

Montelle Intimates FW17 Cabaret Kisses Plunge Unlined Bra and Hipster

Above: Montelle Intimates FW17 Cabaret Kisses Plunge Unlined Bra and Hipster.

Festa, on the changes in the industry

“The advent of the Internet of course changed everything. The way customers are consuming bras has changed drastically. The success of Victoria’s Secret and Bare Necessities and Freshpair and the other websites, changed the way that customers are buying their underwear and bras. And of course over these 25 years, you see the market has exploded, [lingerie has] become more mainstream.”

Carter, on challenges in retail

“You have to always keep evolving with the times and with the business. Too many times I hear storeowners complaining about Amazon or people buying online. Amazon is not going anywhere. Online shopping is not going anywhere, in fact, it’s just going to grow. How you can compete is staying a brick-and-mortar business, but doing what these online companies can’t do, which is provide awesome customer experience and awesome customer service.”

Montelle Intimates Longline Flirt Bra and thong for SS18

Above: Montelle Intimates Longline Flirt Bra and thong for SS18.

Festa, on working with Montelle

“They’re nimble. If a customer says, ‘I love this bra but why don’t you make it in a 32A?’ They’ll absolutely try it. They’re very aware of the market. They listen to the customers more than any other company I’ve worked with, they listen to the stores.”

Carter, on retail successes

“You have to make sure that you’re not trying to be something for everybody. The best boutiques I go into are the ones that have a very definitive look about them. You can tell who their target customer is, you can tell what they’re about.”

Fleur't With Me Lacy Dainties Strappy Bralette and Cheeky Panty for SS18

Above: Fleur’t With Me Lacy Dainties Strappy Bralette and Cheeky Panty for SS18.

Carter, on working with Montelle

“With Montelle, it’s so nice and easy. Not only do they keep their basic room stock all the time, they ship quickly. They process orders within 24 to 48 hours. You can also order fashion in season, which is very hard to find with a lot of brands. Montelle has been growing considerably, especially in the past couple of years. There’s a lot of really good talk among the stores about them. A lot of it has to do with the fact that their products continue to improve and people are seeing that.”

Montelle Reps Across the US

Montelle is also represented in the South East by Pamela Sands, the Midwest by Dianne Ketner, Greater Texas by David Willingham and New England by Sarah Bonaventura.

You can contact the Montelle rep in your area by reaching out to annette@montelle.ca.

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