|Judi Henderson-Townsend , Mannequin Madness|
|Watch a video of Judi Henderson-Townsend|
|Visit Mannequin Madness' website|
Editor's note: Here is Henderson-Townsend's story in her own words.
My encore career is a huge departure from my professional career as an account executive in the health care and travel industries.
I stumbled upon my new career while searching for a used mannequin for an art project for my garden. Instead of buying just one mannequin, I ended up buying 50 mannequins on impulse when I found someone on Craigslist who was closing his mannequin rental business.
Although I had never touched a mannequin or worked in a retail environment before, I thought renting mannequins would be a fun part-time business. Little did I know that this move would quickly lead to a full-time venture for my husband, who is 63, and me. (I am 53.)
Shortly after I purchased the mannequins, I discovered that retailers routinely throw mannequins in the landfill when their mannequins are old or broken or if the store is closing or going out of business. Since mannequins are large, bulky objects made of materials that do not biodegrade, they should not be sent to landfills. So I convinced major retailers such as Nordstrom, Macy’s, Nike, Kohl's, Ralph Lauren and Bloomingdales to let us recycle their unwanted mannequins.
Our company, Mannequin Madness, recycles over 100,000 pounds of mannequins a year, and we have received a special achievement award from the Environmental Protection Agency. We sell and rent these recycled mannequins to businesses and individuals all over the U.S. and Canada.
Surprisingly, many of our customers are not in the retail industry but are event planners, trade-show vendors, museums, artists and even lawyers who need mannequins for a courtroom demonstration.
We now have an affiliate in London and we have added selling brand new mannequins in our inventory. Our company has received numerous business awards and been featured on several times on CNN. I was featured in O, the Oprah Magazine, as a result of being accepted in a leadership training program that Oprah sponsored with an organization called the White House Project. I never knew that working with a bunch of stiffs and dummies could lead to such opportunities!