An Interview with EBTH Sales Specialist Brittney Forrister
Photo cred: Leslie Mitchell
I guess it's pretty standard at this point to have friends you've never met IRL. I have a lot of Instagram friends that I've yet to hang out with in person. Today's bitch is one of those people (even though we did have a coffee date once that got snowed out). Brittney and I have been online friends for awhile now, swapping encouragement and enabling each other to buy the crazy things we find in thrift stores.
In addition to Brittney's eagle eye for amazing vintage, she also works for basically the coolest thing on the internet right now, Everything But The House. I didn't even know you could have a job like that in Nashville. I'm more determined than ever to start my Nashville Thrifters Club, and when I do, Brittney will be my first member. Meet today's bitch, Brittney Forrister!
What is your job title and where do you work?
I'm a Sales Specialist at Everything But The House.
When did you first learn about this field of work? How did you know it was what you wanted to do?
I hosted a vintage clothing pop-up a couple of years ago when someone asked me if I sourced from Everything But The House. I hadn’t heard of the site before and immediately became addicted to perusing estate sales all over the country from the comfort of my couch. About a year ago, they had an opening in the Nashville market and I jumped at the chance to work for a start-up that is revolutionizing the world of estate sales. My home and closet are 60% vintage so the job is such a natural fit and a genuine interest for me. The other component of the job that interested me was the opportunity to sell a service, not a product.
What is the best piece of business advice you’ve been given?
I actually have two:
1. “Clean Car, Nice Pen, Polished Shoes” - my dad, Steve Forrister. It’s a reminder to show up prepared and to look the part.
2. “Always act as if you’re the owner.” I cut this headline out of a NYT 2014 article highlighting Roger Ferguson with TIAA-CREF. To be honest, I’m not sure I even read the article because the headline was enough and I found it be to so humbling. I would love to eventually open a small business of my own someday, but in the meantime, I’m working for someone and for their legacy. I keep this close by as a reminder that success follows investment in where you are and ownership of the responsibilities put before you, whatever role you hold. It also serves as a reminder to work for someone you trust, someone who inspires you to grind it out for a company that isn’t your own, but one you are proud to be a part of.
Can you name the biggest lesson you’ve learned or that helped improve the way you work?
I’ve been fortunate enough to hold cool jobs with cool people. Earlier in my career, I was so intimidated by the coolness, I let insecurity rule my decisions. I didn’t stand up for myself or my ideas as much as I should’ve because I didn’t think I was as cool enough. And when I did step out, it was timidly so and not very effective. I’m done with that. The biggest lesson I’ve learned is to lead with your gut and not apologize for who you are, what you believe and what you think you can bring to the table. Sometimes, you and your ideas will be way off - off brand, off kilter, off base - but sometimes, they’ll hit bullseye and that glory is worth all the times they didn’t hit the mark.
What would you do with two more hours a day?
I would do more crossword puzzles and actually put some business plans down on paper. I’d start shooting an OOTD with the vintage pieces I own, write a complete song instead of jotting down a few lyrics, take an art or sewing class, and finish a children’s book I started a couple years ago about tomatoes.
What is your greatest success, or something you’re most proud of related to what you do?
I don’t want to avoid this question under the veil of humility. Women should hold their successes close, be able to dissect them, learn from them, and build upon each win they orchestrate. My love language is affirmation so I don’t shy away from talk of success. Success is relative though, and many times incredibly personal. The fact that I can’t easily recall a greatest moment doesn’t mean that I haven’t seen success, just not enough to register on my personal barometer yet as “greatest.” I am most proud of the small and varied moments of success in every work day: relationships forged, conflicts managed, services provided.
But to name one success that sticks out: I recently had my home published in Better Homes & Gardens “Best of Flea Market Style 2017” issue. I’m not a designer, and at the time it was shot, I wasn’t working in the world of estate sales, so to be recognized by someone who saw what I had personally created with a passion for mixing the old and new, and thought it was something to showcase, was indeed a proud moment.
How do you decompress at the end of the work day?
The older I get, the more I realize how much I love physical labor, so most often I’ll be doing something around the house. Painting, rearranging furniture, scraping caulk, washing my car; anything that keeps my hands busy and gives my heart and mind a time to rest.
I also love to thrift at the end of the day. There is something about sifting and searching for something unique that calms me down and if I do find a treasure, it’s an exciting way to end the day.
What’s a fear that keeps you up at night?
Having all these ideas and not seeing them come to fruition - not becoming more than I am now. Anyone who knows me knows that on any given night out on the town, I’m inevitably going to start pitching business ideas or song lyrics to friends who just want to enjoy their glass of Meiomi. I don’t flirt at the bar, I talk dreams instead, which is probably one of the reasons why I’m still single. I really am so terrified of looking back on my life and regretting what I could’ve done or what I could’ve been. Conversely, I’m also a little afraid of looking back and not realizing what I had or appreciating what I did accomplish. It’s always a fine line between contentment and ambition - I guess striking the balance is what keeps me up at night.
What is one thing everyone gets wrong about what you do?
Everything But The House has garnered so much press and recognition recently for all the unique items we bring to the world of resale and rightfully so. For that reason, people often think my days are spent sourcing vintage items and antiques when the reality is, that is a small part of what I do. My main responsibility is to meet with the people who are selling those items and help them through whatever transition they are going through - whether that is downsizing, dealing with the loss of a loved one or just simply decluttering or redesigning their home. My day is spent in the service of others and in conversations with people - the cool stuff they’re selling with us is just a bonus!
What does self care look like in your life?
In a nutshell: coffee, the company of my dog Murphy, books, expensive face creams, music, long drives for no reason, sermons on the radio, and visits to my hometown. And as of this week, facetiming with my brand new baby niece, Sadie.
What helps when you’re stuck? Do you have a motto or quote that inspires/motivates you?
As a salesperson, there are so many times when you feel like you are just beating your head against the wall. You are laying the groundwork, putting in all the effort to make magic happen - networking, cold-calling, getting creative, reaching out to press, crafting emails that should probably win a Pulitzer, etc., but sometimes, it’s to no avail. Proverbs 14:23 helps keep all of that effort in perspective for me. “ All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.” If I’m doing my part - showing up, believing in what I do and working hard, not just running my mouth - it will eventually amount to something and if it doesn’t, then it’s time to consider what is next.
Are there any women who helped pave the way for your success?
I want to do this question justice. The answer is yes. Women who gave me a chance, called me back, stood up for me, gave me a place at their table, helped me paint my house, took me to coffee, said “I see something in you,” when I couldn’t see it myself. Too many to count, so I’ll stick close to home with this one.
My “Mimi,” Eunice Ledford, went to work at the Levi Strauss plant in our hometown so she could afford to buy a washer and dryer. She started on the sewing machine line and 33 years later retired as the Assistant Plant Manager. She did not set out to be the boss, she set out to reach a personal goal and one thing led to the other. She was a Worker bee, turned Queen Bee and was loved by her hive. My mother, Sandy Forrister, inherited this same work ethic, working a full-time job for 37 years and raising four children. She started as an accountant and retired as part-owner in the company. After an especially entitled statement from me early on in my career, she reminded that me even as the owner of a company, she still cleaned the restrooms.
Mother and Mimi defined their success not by the titles on their business cards but on the opportunities their jobs afforded them, mostly the ability to provide for their families. They weren’t selfish in their pursuits, their careers weren’t about them, and I owe my success to their dedication. Mother and Mimi’s daily actions said, “You want things out of life, go get them but realize it’s not always about you.” So yeah, road paved, navigation up to me.
Lastly, and most important, what is your favorite TV show and what is your favorite snack?
Justified all day, every day - insightful, character-driven, insanely well-written dialogue and one of the most gratifying season finales of all time. My favorite snack: Popcorn with M&Ms.
All photos courtesy of Brittney Forrister