I always like to feature post 50 women who are doing amazing things. That’s why when I learned that a former colleague Geralyn Breig had launched a new endeavor during her life after 50, I was curious to learn more. Geralyn is a topnotch marketer who has held senior positions, including CEO and President titles, with Fortune 500 companies. She has managed brands like Clarks footwear, Avon beauty products, and Godiva chocolates.
While she has run operations on 5 continents, when it came to launching her new business, AnytownUSA, she decided to create a “Made In The USA” marketplace. I had a chance to interview Geralyn about AnytownUSA. Here are excerpts.
Q: What is AnytownUSA?
A: AnytownUSA is the first marketplace dedicated to connecting shoppers with sellers of quality American-made products including clothing, accessories, jewelry, kids products, home, stationery, beauty and pet goods. Anytownusa.com launched in June 2018 and currently has more than 3,000 products (and growing) available to shoppers from over 130 sellers who share their stories and foster the kind of authentic, genuine connections that shoppers seek with makers. The shopping experience is like you’re taking a virtual walk down Main Street USA.
Q: What prompted you to start this business during your life after 50?
A: I really feel proud about starting AnytownUSA at this point in my life. I have more than three decades of corporate leadership experience, and I can use it to make a difference. My entire career has been about figuring out what people want, and giving it to them. And what research shows is people want to buy products that are made here in the USA.
Throughout my tenure as head of some major consumer-facing brands, I was struck by the amount of product that was manufactured abroad. The numbers are jarring; for example, only 3% of apparel is still made in the US. Yet, according to Consumer Reports, 80% of Americans would prefer to buy made-in-America products, and 60% would even pay a premium for them. The challenge was where to find them.
So, I decided to put my experience to work and give shoppers what they want: an American-made marketplace with American-made goods. And by opening a shop on our platform, individual artists, small businesses and even some major manufacturers are able to reach new customers, share their stories and grow their businesses.
Q: Tell me about AnytownUSA product offerings. How are they different than those sold on other retail websites?
A: At anytownusa.com, you can dress yourself from head-to-toe and your home from front door to back in items made in the US. Our categories – from apparel and accessories to products for kids, to home décor and even pet goods – are the items typically sought by shoppers, and what we have done is brought together a curated assortment from individual artists, small businesses and even some major manufacturers who proudly make their products in the USA.
We’ve taken the guess work out of how to find American-made goods. Unlike other marketplace and online retail sites, you don’t have to sift through product descriptions in search of a handful that are made in the USA. All of our sellers certify that their products are made and labeled consistent with FTC guidelines. Shoppers can find items made in the USA with US materials, or with US and imported materials, and even products handmade in the USA.
Q: Are there any products that are especially targeted to boomer women? Any products made by other female boomer entrepreneurs?
A: As a 50+ woman myself, I have to say that I think all of our products will appeal to boomer women, depending on their interests and their families – from awesome jewelry (perhaps a gift for yourself?) to incredible apparel, gifts for grandkids and countless items for your home (and your pets!). I think we truly have something for everyone on the site.
Being a yogi, I was lucky to sample activewear made by AnytownUSA seller Totemmi, an artisan maker from the Pacific Northwest. Totemmi fabrics are spun from fiber made from USA-certified recycled plastic bottles. According to Totemmi: “It can take 450 years for a plastic bottle to biodegrade. By recycling bottles into yoga clothing we are doing our part to keep plastic out of our landfills and we are offsetting the need to produce new raw materials.” Kudos to Totemmi and to the AnytownUSA team for featuring such a sustainable partner.
Ooh, ooh, ooh, did you read my interview with the founder of Edye’s Naturals Skin Care products. Edye’s is a seller on AnytownUSA too!
Q: Any tips to share with other post 50 women who might be thinking about starting a business during their second act?
A: That is a great question. First of all, I’ll say this, there are probably one thousand reasons you can think of to talk yourself out of doing it, but the truth is, at this point in your life you have so much experience to lend to a new venture. I feel so much more confident in my decisions, I have so many more connections across industries to leverage for support and advice. I think after 50 is a great time to start something new!
Here are a few tips:
♥ Do your research. Understand how many others are out there already doing what you want to get into. Is it truly white space? If not, be really clear about how you can stand out. Write it down, practice saying it/pitching it. You have to always be ready to make your pitch!
♥ Don’t be shy. Even in our fifties, we don’t have all the answers. Don’t be afraid to share your ideas, and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Leverage your relationships (professional and personal) to see what others think, and to get help in areas that aren’t your greatest strengths. If you aren’t comfortable pitching your idea to your contacts, it’s going to be really hard to sell it to strangers. So start with friends and family – they are a fair sounding board, if not a little biased in your favor.
♥ Have fun. I’m not going to lie, it’s hard. When you start a new venture, you are the CEO, the assistant, the accountant and the janitor. It can take a lot out of you, and that’s why it’s so important to commit yourself to something you love, and have fun doing it!
Q: Where can readers find out more about AnytownUSA?
A: To shop our site visit www.anytownusa.com. You can also read our blog, and follow our social channels: Twitter: @anytown_usa; Facebook: @AnytownUSA.marketplace; Instagram: @anytown_usa_; Pinterest: @AnytownUSA.com; and LinkedIn: Linkedin.com/company/anytownusa/.