“I’m particularly thrilled to see Shirley’s story here because . . . she’s my inspiration, my closest friend, and . . . I’m very fortunate to say that I’m her daughter. I’m so proud of you, Mom!” – Kimberly Wiefling, Author, Scrappy Project Management and Scrappy Women in Business
Mother by Day, Entrepreneur by Night: Shirley Wiefling Shares Her Inspirational Experience as a Woman at the Forefront of Business.
A career businesswoman, Shirley Wiefling was one of the first women to move beyond the roles of mother and wife to take a leading role in business. From selling Tupperware to flea market goods and cleaning business, Shirley is a remarkable example of a woman who has done it all and excelled in her chosen fields.
I had the opportunity to interview Shirley on the phone. Let’s hear her heartwarming story!
Tell me about your success selling Tupperware.
When my kids were little, I was a stay-at-home mom, so I could sell Tupperware in the evening. I did that for many years and it was very nice. And I accumulated a lot of Tupperware! That was a practical choice because I couldn’t do anything during the day.
How did you manage your time as both a businesswoman and a mother?
I had three children, so it was a lot of work. In the evenings, my husband would stay home with the kids and I would hold my Tupperware parties in the evening. I did that about two nights a week. Although there was an occasional rare afternoon party, I offered them mostly in the evenings, so I could be home with our kids during the daytime.
What skills did you acquire from operating your Tupperware business?
I learned how to find my way around town! We did not have GPS systems or cell phones back then. People gave me directions or a landmark to look for. It was frightening for me at first, but I somehow managed, and I gained courage with experience. It would be a lot easier today with a smart phone!
How did you attract clients and keep return customers?
I offered a prize or reward to people who would hold parties at their house. I had a lot of good luck with that. I always had a party going on, not five days a week, but regularly. People respond to incentives.
What kind of training did you have to go through to sell Tupperware?
I hosted a Tupperware party at my house and told the sales lady that I would like to buy all the Tupperware she had. Then, she recommended I sell it too! They gave me a kit full of Tupperware and then I was pretty much on my own. I was pretty good at it.
How would you convince someone that they should buy your products?
I would talk to them about how many ways they could use the dish or bowl. The goal was to get them to buy more, and I would always suggest that people throw a party if they wanted additional items.
What did you do after working with Tupperware?
I stopped selling Tupperware when my kids left home and I started a cleaning business. That lasted for twenty five years! I really enjoyed taking care of my own house – cleaning is a bit of a hobby for me. My daughter, Kimberly, started the cleaning business while she was in high school. After she went off to college, I took over her clients, so Kimberly really helped me start my business. Over the years I grew my business from one to seventeen clients. Word of mouth from delighted clients was the best way to expand. They all said it was hard to find someone who was honest, on time, and good, and I was all three. It worked out well for me. After I quit, I had one client who continued to send me a substantial holiday gift check for another twenty years in gratitude for my work!
Of all the businesses you have created and operated, which one did you enjoy the most?
I really liked the cleaning business. When someone comes back to you, tells you how much they appreciate you, and seems genuinely happy, it makes you happy as well. I loved making people smile.
What advice do you have for someone just starting their own business now?
You can do anything you want. If you put your mind to it, you can do anything! Absolutely!!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Shannon Galiotto is a senior at St. Francis High School in Mountain View, CA. She enjoys creative writing, mathematics, photography, video editing, as well as watching, playing, and reading about sports. In her free time, she volunteers at the local Senior Center’s Technology Center or helps elementary students learn the value of money, etc.