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Felice Pierce of Plato's Closet and Revolve Fashion

Meet Felice Pierce, founder of Plato’s Closet and Revolve Fashion. Plato's buys and sells gently-used teen and young adult casual clothing and accessories. Revolve Fashion buys and sells women's clothing and accessories. Pierce looks for mall and designer brands, as well as some vintage and unusual clothing. Plato's Closet has 20 employees, while Revolve has nine.

How did you come to be an entrepreneur?

I think that entrepreneurs have very active imaginations and a predilection for thrill seeking and risk taking. How I came to be an entrepreneur stems from the days my mother drove the station wagon around Cleveland packed with at least five kids and several dogs and controlled all of the potential mayhem by telling mesmerizing stories. There was always one about having a family greasy spoon diner in which all of us worked, Mom with a cigarette dangling from her lips flipping eggs, the rest of us dealing with all sorts of delightfully eccentric customers.

I have been an archaeologist and a teacher. When I stopped teaching, I got involved with a group called Bioneers and heard a talk by David Cooperrider from the CWRU Business School. It really was pivotal for me. He set about demonstrating that the most powerful agent of positive change is business. It was a green light for me to think about actually doing something in business.

It took me about two months to sign up for a Plato’s Closet franchise, Four years later my husband and I started another store with the same concept as Plato’s but for grownups, Revolve Fashion.

How do you cater to a more mature clientele at Revolve?

I have music that more mature folks like so that immediately sets a tone. I use calmer colors on the walls, versus eye popping colorss at Plato’s, which the teens prefer. We have personal shoppers at Revolve who help customers pull together outfits.

It is a lot easier to risk changing up your style at Revolve because of the great prices. We also have a much wider variety of brands and styles for our mature clientele because they are trying to develop their unique style more than say, a typical teen, who might be more interested in fitting into their scene at school. So we look for unusual, eclectic, unique items to come into our store.

What are the advantages of shopping at a store like Revolve?

Unlike shopping at a mall and having to go into all of the different stores, our store has goodies from all the different stores so it is easier to mix and match styles to create your own look. The colors, patterns, textures and styles can work magic with each other when mixed up a bit. The real advantage our clothing is generally 50 to 70 percent less than the retail price.

What is the biggest struggle or hurdle you had to overcome and how did you overcome it?

I was originally going to do a franchise for women’s resale. A few days before I was going to go sign up, I found out that the territory was no longer available. I was pretty upset but then I just asked myself, “Where is the silver lining?” And boom – I decided I would do it on my own. It was the best struggle, because I love having the store and doing everything my way instead of how a corporation tells me it should be done.

What motivates you to go to work each day?

I have to make these businesses successful.  I invested a significant amount of money, sweat and tears so there is a very real pressure to make them profitable. Other than that, it is just endlessly interesting. My management team is superb and my staff is excellent, Our customers are from all walks of life but we have a huge number of dedicated resale shoppers, many of whom we know by name.

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