Clarence Tabb Jr. / The Detroit News
Owning a business a rebirth for sales vet
Brian J. O'Connor / The Detroit News
Call Pamela Valdez's new business an accident of birth -- just not hers.
The 32-year-old West Bloomfield woman had just been laid off from her job selling drugs for Pfizer Inc. when she strolled into Buddha Belly Maternity. Valdez had shopped there when she was expecting and was friendly with the owner, who told Valdez she was pregnant with twins and had decided to sell the store.
"The first thing that came out of my mouth was, 'You can't! This is a great store!' " Valdez says. "Then I thought, I can take what I learned at Pfizer and I can do it for Buddha Belly."
Valdez took over the store in March. "So far," she says, "it's been wonderful."
The only problem with the work was that she hated it.
"I did not want to be in research at all," she says. "I was a lab rat for quite a while, but my personality wasn't conducive to it. I needed to talk to someone other than Petri dishes and Bunsen burners all day long."
"It was a great job," she says. "It paid well, the benefits were great, and my customers were great. It was almost like running my own business: I had my own territory and it was very flexible."
But business faltered at Pfizer, and the firm laid off 10,000 workers, including more than 2,000 in Michigan.
"I'd won numerous awards and was in the top 10 percent in the nation for a couple of years," Valdez says. "So, when I got the pink slip it was quite a shock."
Feeling glum, she decided to treat her blues with some retail therapy. After visiting a nearby store, she popped in to Buddha Belly and found her new career.
One challenge was learning the details of inventory, she says.
"The great thing was that the owner was very patient with me and taught me how to do everything," Valdez says.
She has adjusted some of the merchandise lineup and has focused on making the store a comfortable environment for mothers-to-be who are shopping with kids or husbands in tow.
"Call me stubborn," she says. "I guess you have to be a real risk-taker for some things, and if you're not a risk-taker, then this isn't for you."
The key, she says, was the confidence she had built from her success selling millions of dollars worth a year in her old sales job.
"If you have a strong feeling for it, and you know you've been successful, then you can be successful in other things, too."
You can reach Brian O'Connor at (313) 222-2145 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
More Money Headlines