HED:Classic couture clothing with personal shopping convenience
By Lena Mitchell
You won’t see the clothing line in any department store or boutique, but millions of women around the country have learned to trust the name Doncaster for the finest in women’s clothing.
The designer brand is sold only through a network of wardrobe consultants nationwide, and three area women make the exclusive designs available locally.
Edith Thomas of Tupelo, who has represented the label for a number of years, recently introduced two new representatives in the area Marcia Cartwright and Nancy Cadle of Booneville.
“They showed with me this last time,” Thomas says. “What we’re trying to do is reach a much younger public in Tupelo. I’m 80 years old and ready to give it up, but can’t find anybody to take my place.”
Along with the Booneville customers they’re already serving, Cadle and Cartwright will also work the Tupelo market with Thomas.
“I’m doing this because I like to sell,” Thomas says, “and I’m still trying to find new customers myself.”
Until she is fully ready to move to the sidelines, the two younger women can help broaden the Tupelo customer base, Thomas says.
Her sales drive has helped Thomas to spearhead a major donor effort for Mississippi University for Women.
“The nicest thing about this is it has afforded me the opportunity to establish a scholarship at the W,” Thomas says. “I challenged my class to a $50,000 centennial scholarship in honor of our class of 1941. I contributed over half the money from my Doncaster business to the W.”
Cartwright and Cadle burst into the business with a bang, garnering recognition for outstanding sales at the company’s annual growth conference in Ashville, N.C.
Their business skyrocketed during their first six months, the 1999 spring/summer season, making them the fastest representatives to receive “top rookie” honors in the 68-year history of the company.
“While we were there we were given a trip to Italy from the company,” Cadle says. “We were so surprised and (went) to Florence and Rome for eight days at the end of August.”
Doncaster clothing features fine fabrics, expert tailoring and sophisticated styles created by its New York design team.
Consultants show Doncaster’s collections year round through in-home trunk shows, as well as through portfolio presentations. The average outfit ranges from $300 to $800. Showings are by appointment only.
“A woman’s wardrobe serves a purpose in her life, and that’s why Doncaster’s designers believe it’s important to blend beautiful couture clothing with practicality and comfort,” Cartwright says.
Cartwright taught for two years, holding a bachelor of science and master’s degree in elementary education. As a stay-at-home mother she helped her husband, Gary, in his auto business, and has also worked as a European travel guide.
Cadle is trained as a paralegal, having worked in the law office of her husband, Tommy Cadle.
Doncaster is a business with a heart, Thomas says, and that is an important feature she likes about it.
Recently Thomas launched a project to help charitable organizations provide used Doncaster clothing to their clients.
“What I have done is call Gardner Simmons, Faith Haven and Safe,” Thomas says. “I offer my customers that if they bring any clothing item they want to give to this project to me, I will give them a discount on their clothing.”
Like Doncaster’s philosophy of putting something back into the community where you live, this is another way she can give back.
“They have continuously supported breast cancer for many years,” she says. “It’s a very good company, a family business.”
Doncaster’s founders, the Tanner family, made men’s shirts. It was when the mother one day suggested they put a longer tail on the shirt that the shirtwaist dress familiar to most women was born.
The family is now branching out into home accessories, as well, Thomas says.
“They have put out a portfolio on Tanner Home Accessories, and this is the first time they have done something like this on this scale,” she says.
Each consultant holds a spring, summer, fall and winter trunk show. Thomas, Cadle and Cartwright will hold a joint show in Tupelo Monday, Sept. 27 through Friday, Oct. 1.
Cadle and Cartwright’s Booneville show is scheduled for Monday, Oct. 11, through Saturday, Oct. 16.
“What we really stress is that this is an investment,” Thomas says. “We start someone out with a suit, then add to it each show. The clothes are classical lines, good for years.”
These Doncaster representatives can be reached as follows: Thomas, 842-4518; Cadle, 728-8435; Cartwright, 728-8583.