Before I begin to reveal my secrets to sell-ebrity success, let me introduce myself. I am Diane Gilman. At 77 years old, I have designed the top fashion brand on HSN (Home Shopping Network) for 28 years. My loyal and loving customers have crowned me “The Queen of Jeans” for my fashion invention—a super stretchy, sexy jean created exclusively for a mature “Baby Boomer” body.
While the rest of the fashion industry remains youth-obsessed and age-phobic, my tele-retail brand—DG2—embraces what I call “The Forgotten Woman.” This woman is middle aged, like me, and can no longer fit into her most treasured piece of clothing: her jeans. Jeans connect our youth to our current age. . . but also point out how the body changes. I invented and designed my first DG2 jean out of a desperate, personal need for great-fitting denim, and then found that millions of women had been waiting and hoping for this invention!
To date, DG2 is offered exclusively on HSN, has sold more than 20 million jeans in 14 years in America alone—and millions more as we took the DG2 fashion philosophy global, to channels such as TSC Canada, QVC France, QVC Germany, QVC Italy, QVC U.K., and QVC Australia.
My belief in my exclusive jean creation was rather simple and obvious, at least to me: all women, no matter their background or nationality, deal with the same hormonal changes as we age. Our body shapes change, and we can no longer wear what we used to or what we want to. My DG2 jeans-with a unique set of measurements, gave the middle-aged customer “their sexy back.”
That first jean, and all the jean designs that followed, have catapulted me to being a #1 tele-retail fashion star and sell-ebrity. My three secrets reveal how it all happened, and how I remained on top for so many years. . . read on to learn more.
THREE SECRETS OF A SELL-EBRITY (DIANE GILMAN)
1)HAVE A PERSONAL CONNECTION TO THE PRODUCTS YOU SELL.
There is no substitute for authenticity. Sharing your personal experiences with the products you represent can take you a long way.
For example, the most important thing I’ve shared over the years is how, in my case, DG2 Jeans continue to improve my everyday life! I view my first DG2 jean—a simple stretch-denim, five-pocket bootcut jean—not so much as a fashion design, but as a solution-driven invention for the middle-aged customer. It was a solution born out of need. I was middle-aged, had gained weight in all the wrong places, and could no longer wear jeans! There was not one brand that cared about me and my rearranged middle-aged body shape. So, I took my own measurements, made a unique pattern unlike any other jean shape in the fashion industry, and had that first pair of jeans sewn in my design studio.
That pair of jeans changed my life—I felt young, hipper, and visible again!
I came to believe millions of women would feel the same about these jeans. So, I pitched my invention to HSN’s CEO, Mindy Grossman, and she gave me one hour on-air. Instantly, my story and personal connection to the jeans was noticeable, and we experienced success. My jeans became a sales engine and tele-retail phenomena.
My on-air “sell” was deeply personal, honest, and authentic. I truly love my jeans—they gave me back to me, and the audience could feel that through their TV screen. I would always say to the viewers, and I promised this truthfully, that we could all share that experience of loving ourselves and our jeans together.
The jeans delivered what I promised, and we formed a 700,000 viewer DG2 sisterhood of women who love their DG2s to this day.
2)KNOW & LOVE YOUR CUSTOMER. CREATE A RETAIL FAMILY.
It is crucial to bond emotionally with the viewer or customer through your product. Explain every feature and benefit of the product clearly and accurately. Trust is everything, especially in the television medium. You must always tell the customer the truth.
Unlike brick-and-mortar stores, the potential tele-retail or online customer cannot try on or test out your product. This is especially a problem for selling a fashion product. Selling a tight-fitting, body con fashion product on TV had never been done successfully before DG2. But, by selling our jeans as a solution-driven product (we are solving a long-suffered problem for you, our beloved customer), and by emphasizing how all other brands had ignored and rejected women over fifty (while we embraced them), we made the customer realize they didn’t just want our jeans, they needed them to improve their life!
Then, we embraced our customers even more. By buying her first paid of DG2 jeans, she became a part of the family: the DG2 sisterhood, as so many customers called it.
We took the sisterhood global, connecting women all over the world through our product. I believed whether you were eating a plate of rice or a croissant, hormonal female changes were the same, and the growth of the sisterhood proved me right.
In the end, I was able to connect with our customers because I knew them, and I knew them because I was that customer. I was as grateful for a comfortable jean that made me look modern and sexy as they were!
With this niche, I was able to connect emotionally with our customer base and bring them into our extended family of connected and dedicated fans.
3)EVERY APPEARANCE IS A PERFORMANCE. MAKE THE CAMERA YOUR BEST FRIEND.
Every performance—whether on TV or elsewhere—is for the enjoyment of an audience. You may feel soul-crushing pressure to sell, sell, sell, but the people watching you—or even just stopping by your booth, stepping into your store, or visiting your social media page—must never know. As Marshall McClewan said, “the Medium is the message.”
I realized early in my tele-retail career that I needed to “play a part.” So, having started my TV career at 47, I chose Glamorous Older Woman. I improved my longevity with a few plastic surgery tweaks and smoothed out my presentation with a vocal coach to help me truly play the part.
Perhaps my most important and enlightening adjustment came from HSN’s head of on-air talent at the time, Andy Sheldon. I used to go on-air and let too many of my daily frustrations “hang out.” One day, just as I finished up with a host I didn’t really enjoy working with, Andy yanked me off the set and marched me up to his office. He explained that viewers (or, customers) viewed HSN as their companion: a solution for loneliness, even an extension of their family. I could not go on like this. He gave me these pivotal words, which lifted my on-air persona and prepared me for greatness:
“Diane,” Andy said, “You must recognize that if you are on-air, you are larger than life. Every gesture is magnified by 100,000. So, project: ‘every moment you are on-air is the happiest moment of your life. You are so thrilled to be sharing that moment with your potential fans.’”
“I don’t care if you are suffering from the flu, or have just heard the worst news,” Andy continued, “Your on-air personality must always radiate joy, warmth, and fulfillment. No matter what. The show must go on.”
Those words sunk in and served me well for the rest of my TV career. I learned never to talk down to my audience, but to treat each and every one of them like my “bestie.” I always stood beside them, as a grateful, loving, and gracious friend—not someone trying to sell them something. Remember that you are bigger than life if you’re viewed on a TV screen, so even if you don’t feel it, play the part.
With my final show, which aired over this past Thanksgiving weekend, I left with a genuine “thank you” to my audience: without all your love and support, there would be no Queen of Jeans.