Stephanie Torrible did not go to business school. She was never an entrepreneur. But since opening , an upscale women’s consignment boutique in Reisterstown, Torrible's hard work has been met with unexpected success and validation.
“One thing I’ve always felt strongly about was integrity. I think integrity builds success,” said Torrible, who opened the shop in 2006.
This success includes recent recognition for Torrible, such as being awarded Spirited Woman in Business in the 2012 Spirited Women of Baltimore Awards by MyCity4Her.com, a luncheon for which will be held on Wednesday, Aug. 15. Wear It’s At was additionally named in Baltimore Magazine's 'Best of Baltimore.'
“Usually we would get about 20 phone calls an hour. Now we’re getting probably 40,” said Molly Brooks, the manager of Wear It’s At.
Torrible was a gerontologist for 20 years, lobbying for elderly care rights on Capitol Hill. She enjoyed helping people, but decided to take a risk and do something she felt passionate about.
“It’s hard to really feel like you’re making an individual contribution, and since fashion was my hobby, I decided that, through having my own business, I could probably help on a larger scale and have more resources to do so,” she said.
Despite her lack of experience, Torrible admits she made many of her business decisions based on instinct. For example, the decision to expand her store twice was a risk, but it allowed Wear It’s At to reach more consumers.
This is not unusual behavior for Torrible, as Brooks explained that the mother of four often comes into the store with new, creative ideas that take weeks to execute.
One of these ideas, which makes Wear It’s At particularly unique, is donating the materials if consigners choose not to pick them up at the end of the consignment period. Wear It’s At donates clothing to Suited to Succeed, a welfare to work program for women, which recently named Torrible the “Giving Goddess of the Decade.” The consignment store also donates prom dresses to Cinderella’s Closet, and works with First Candle, which promotes safe pregnancies and the survival of infants.
As a boss, Torrible gives her employees a lot of freedom, according to Brooks.
“It’s like working with your best friend and a tornado at the same time,” she said of Torrible, given Torrible’s tendency to come up with new projects, making it difficult for Brooks to keep up with her.
The early success of Wear It’s At can be attributed to the recession, which hit soon after Torrible opened the consignment shop. Because many members of the community were downsizing, Wear It’s At received a large and necessary growth spurt.
With all of her recent recognition, many female businesswomen have come to Torrible for advice.
“There have been a lot of other women who have wanted to open a business or have great ideas, but just don’t know how to go about it,” she said. Her greatest piece of advice to women in business is not to be afraid to change your mind, she said.
This was particularly applicable to Torrible’s experiences, as she took the great risk of leaving her career of 20 years to follow her passion.
“Sometimes you have to take a leap of faith and do what you love,” she said.