Hugh With CAbi Clothes’ Jan Janura
HH: Morning Glory and Evening Grace, America. It’s Hugh Hewitt. Thank you for listening today. This is a special hour. I have a great friend, a dear friend in studio with me and I asked him to come in and talk to me because in these economic times he’s not just a job generator. He is a business creator for thousands of people. His name is Jan Janura and with his wife, Carol Anderson, he is the founder of CAbi and before that Carol Anderson Designs. If you don’t know what CAbi is that stands for Carol Anderson by Invitation. CAbi is one of the most successful women clothing companies in the world and Jan Janura calls himself a dress maker, but he’s much, much more than that. Jan, welcome to the Hugh Hewitt Show.
JJ: Hugh, great to be with you. I always enjoy our times together. This is a little intimidating and I hope nothing happens here that will hurt your standing with the FCC, but it’s great to be with you buddy.
HH: Nothing will happen, but I do think we’re going to change some lives. We are going to change some lives because some people out there especially women who want to become CAbi consultants or have thought about it or have never heard about it but will now want to do it are going to pick up the phone and call 800-501-1412, and I’m going to give that number a few times. I really do believe if people are sitting around and they feel a call to get involved in an amazing business this is it. Tell people what CAbi is, Jan Janura.
JJ: Well what CAbi is Hugh, is an extension of a business that Carol and I started 33 years ago. Carol had a great talent in designing women’s clothes and I said to her that we should start a business and she said are you insane when I told her that. You don’t know anything about it. I said think about it for a couple of weeks and we’ll get together and we started back in 1977 in a garage in Burbank, California with $800. Our first order was from Nordstrom’s. There was a knock on the back of 4,000 sq. ft. loft right in the heart of the apparel district and it was the Nordstrom buyers.
HH: And I want people to understand that you weren’t married at this time. You were just business partners and remain that way for what 15, 16, 20 years?
JJ: Sixteen years.
HH: Then you said to her?
JJ: And then I said [laughing] I think we need to investigate if there’s a romantic aspect to our relationship. A smooth line!
HH: A smooth line-the worst pickup line in history! We’ll come back to that. So it’s 1977 Carol Anderson starts. Every woman driving around will know what Carol Anderson is one of the greatest names in American fashion. When did you sell Carol Anderson?
JJ: Well, we sold it in 2002, and just like every great story it always has a villain. There was a villain involved in that and we sold it to a great attorney friend of 18 years and oh man, it was night fight in a phone booth. [laughing]
HH: That didn’t go well. How long after that did you start CAbi?
JJ: Well, we actually started CAbi in kind of testing it in 2002. I had the idea in 2001, and we started doing focus groups and we gave it to 10 women around the country while we were selling stores and we sold thousands of stores through the U.S. We had showrooms in all the major cities throughout the United States selling Carol Anderson, but then January 1st of 2003, we started CAbi with 10 women.
HH: It is now-give people a sense of how big CAbi is.
JJ: It’s the largest women’s direct sale clothing company in the United States.
HH: And there are 3,000 CAbi consultants?
JJ: A little over that.
HH: Ok. Talk a little bit about what they do.
JJ: Well, what they do is they host shows and it’s sort of like Tupperware with clothes, but the great part about it is our little mantra is friends, fashion and fun. A CAbi party even though-a lot of these parties that you get invited to-a candle party-you go for the first time because you think oh, gee, I owe Beth a favor so I’ll go there. But the women come to this. They see the clothes. They try the clothes on. You never walk out of there with something that looks bad. These other 10 women at the show won’t let you do that as opposed to-Carol hauled me around to little boutiques all the years and I would watch the people who worked, the sales people, put stuff on women that they should only wear on October 31st and they get conned into it. You always hear that women who wear CAbi stuff like Betsy. Man, that looks great on you. They get compliments because they are really wearing things that flatter them.
HH: Yeah, the fetching Mrs. Hewitt is a huge fan of CAbi and I’ve know many consultants. I know many people that love it, but I don’t know that there are a lot of guys driving around-I wanted you to come in here to talk about starting a business and how to grow a business and how people have had their lives changed by doing a business by becoming a CAbi-what do we call them?
HH: CAbi consultants and how their lives changed because they take that step, but I also want people to understand you didn’t start with a venture capitalist giving you 10 million dollars and a design team. Give people a sense of what was in the garage in 1977.
JJ: In 1977, Carol’s dad came out from Omaha put up some shelves. Carol had a sewing machine in there and a little wrap for stuff and she started there. We started with 12 garments that she made, and I got an appointment with Nordstrom’s up in Seattle. She flew up and we showed them those 12 garments, and I remember the buyer coming down and we showed the first garment and she didn’t respond. Second garment, third garment and I thought oh boy, this isn’t going so good, but finally at the end she started to warm up and I asked her if we put a line together, would you give us a test order and she said she would. That’s how we started back then. I borrowed $60,000 from ten friends over a three year period, subordinated money, paid them interest every quarter, and paid them back at the end of it.
HH: Now I’ve also got to tell people that before you became a dress maker you were a Young Life staffer.
JJ: I was. I was the area director in Seattle and what a wonderful time and what a wonderful organization and one of the highlights of my life. It deals with kids. It shows kids a great picture of what it really means know Christ in a great way without all the strings and stuff that’s such a bad rap on that.
HH: Before I knew Jan Janura as a captain of the fashion industry and a very big dress maker, I knew him from Bud the contractor with whom he went to Fuller Seminary so that’s a really bad introduction for anyone in my life, but in fact you’re also a Fuller Seminary grad, and I want people to understand where you came from so give a little bit of the Jan Janura story, because you are one of these people who have made America work for yourself.
JJ: Well, went to college. I was going to get a PhD physiology. I read a book by Francis Schaeffer when I realized most of the college education that was taking place, at least for me, they thought everything out there was from a random chance creation position in the world. I thought my goodness I’m learning to think that way. I thought I need to go and learn what I really believe in so I looked for a seminary. Just like you’ll send a kid sometime to law school. You don’t want them to be a lawyer, you just them to learn to think critically so I went to Fuller. The great deal about Fuller is Fuller teaches how to think theologically, not what to think theologically and that is the difference in the world.
HH: All along were you thinking I’m a merchant, I’m a merchant?
JJ: No, what I was really thinking there is that I wanted to learn to think and I loved the people in Young Life because they really lived a full life. They were the poster people for the abundant life and I like them. I thought they were sharp, smart, fun and talk the big stuff so I like doing it. When I graduated and I was offered the Seattle area to be the area director, I went up there and those 4 years were wonderful substantive years of my life.
HH: Now every woman listening who knows Carol Anderson fashion is saying we don’t care about him, tell us about Carol Anderson. How did she end up becoming one of America’s great designers?
JJ: Well, we met when I was at Fuller and we both worked in a Young Life club at Burroughs High School in Burbank, California and that’s where we met Ken Ktada who was a coach at that point. We all led the little Young Life club together, and Carol at that time had been designing for a while here in Los Angeles for a couple of different firms and was a great designer and a great person. When I graduated from Fuller in 1973, and went up to Seattle she stayed here and she kept designing.
HH: And then you came back and said come work with me?
JJ: Well, I tell you what.
HH: She must have been out of her mind. You’re an area director for Young Life and she’s a young designer. Come work with me!
JJ: I really felt called into business and so I really believe it or not felt God saying to me get into business and the area that I had in Seattle was one of the greatest Young Life areas in the country. We would take 200 adults up to their Young Life property in Canada called Malibu which was this absolutely gorgeous, fantastic place. I mean we would take 200 adults there, you couldn’t fail as an area director. Charles Manson could have been the area director. It was so easy, but I just felt called so I left this beautiful plum opportunity to go into business. I went to interview with IBM and I interviewed for two days and I thought this will be great. I’ll learn all about business. IBM will pay my tuition, and they called me back three days after the interview and they said Jan it was great to meet you and I said man, it was great to meet you guys when do I start and they said sorry, you’re not quite what we are looking for. At 27 years old I was absolutely devastated. I think it’s so important what a young guy, young men, do with their life. That frames who we are for a lot.
JJ: So I just taken away this marvelous position and thrown it away. It was really-it was really one of the super low times of my life.
HH: And what did you do immediately thereafter? Well, wait. Hold onto that. I’m coming back. Jan Janura is my guest. If you interest is wetted, CAbionline.com. Cabilonline or 800-501-1412. That’s a special 800 number set up to get you connected to a CAbi consultant in your area. I’m going to tell you more about this starting and pursuing your dream when we come back after the break. Stay tuned to the Hugh Hewitt Show.
HH: Twenty-one minutes after the hour, America. It’s Hugh Hewitt. As I’ve been doing all week long, talking to Bernie Marcus yesterday with the young entrepreneurs and talking about how people thrive in adverse circumstances and how they can start their own business, grow their own lives, do what they want to do if they have an interest, an inkling in their heart and I have one of the best, most successful businessman I know, and I’m so glad that he’s willing to do this with me. Jan Janura along with his wife and co-founder of CAbi Fashions, Carol Anderson, has grown an enormously successful business, but what’s most wonderful about it are the 3,000 CAbi consultants who are out there who have their own businesses as a result of CAbi selling a great product to an enthusiastic clientele who love what they get. To learn more about it CAbilonline.com. Cabionline.com. Look for a message and a link on the home page that will bring you to an online request and they will send you something if you’re really interested in this. I know there are going to be some new CAbi consultants out of this and that’s actually what I think this whole hour is about is finding those people. What are you doing to send them, Jan? I put it away and I don’t know what I did with it. It’s a little DVD. Oh, here it is and this is “CAbi A Sought After Career.” What is this?
JJ: It will allow somebody to take a whole look at CAbi. There’s a story deal that you can follow through the DVD, different areas that you can go to and ask it questions, and then we’ll be glad to set up an interview with one of our current consultants and you can ask them questions. I’ll tell you in this economy-this is not just me bringing my kid out so you can listen to him play piano horribly. In this economy I think more than ever people need to take the reins themselves. That’s what has made this country great in my opinion. To look to somebody else to take care of your problems for you. We have a huge-over 80% of our people stay with us from season to season. That retention rate is that high because I think in this economy people know I’m not going to depend on somebody else to carve my future, I’ve got to do it.
HH: I have known, like I said, at least a half-dozen CAbi consultants each one of whom comes out of a particular I would think character. They are really ambitious and smart and poised and they like working with. . . whose you’re primary client for CAbi clothing?
JJ: Well, women! [laughing]
HH: Women, thank you very much! [laughing] It’s like saying-I asked the guy who made the movie “Jump in the Broom” we’re trying to get people who are getting married to come to the movie. Yeah, I know that. . . within that demographic.
JJ: I’d say that the demographic is probably 30-50, but believe it or not, we do these things called “Look Books” that we hand out at the shows that show all fashions out and we do them on real people too. We did one where we did groups of three generations where we have a granddaughter, the daughter and the grandmother together all wearing CAbi-all different things. It’s got a long swath. That’s really to Carol’s genius and skill as a designer. When I first decided to do the business with her, I knew what her talent was. I didn’t really have a talent but I really thought my job was to build an infrastructure around her so that she could be free to exercise her gifts and I thought we might be able to make a go of it and make some money.
HH: Tell me the story or tell the audience the story of when Carol Anderson was recognized to have a design gift.
JJ: That was in Omaha, Nebraska, and her mom and dad, Chester and Ruby. Chester had a masonry company and they she had three brothers and they knew what they were going to do. They were going to be brick masons, but what was Carol going to do? Well in third grade, Carol entered a contest and she made a pair of pajamas and she won first prize, and I always was impressed with this. Chet and Ruby saw that and they went out and they bought Carol the best sewing machine they could get, brought it back and Carol started sewing in third grade.
HH: And then Carol put herself in a Volkswagen, drove to California after college and said I’m here Los Angeles, and I’m going to go work.
JJ: Went to Evangeline Residence stayed there and looked around for a job and got hired and did that for eight years before we started Carol Anderson.
HH: You know I think it would be-she would make a great undercover boss as would you but unfortunately everybody knows you because of scoop. Tell people what scoop is?
JJ: The scoop is twice a year where we gather all of our consultants for three purposes. First, we have a huge fashion show and this year we’re in Long Beach and it’s just a great exciting time. It’s one of the best fashion shows that I’ve ever seen and not just because it’s ours, but it is. We’ll have all our consultants there. We start it off they get to see the new line for that season. Then we do training and we have 80 different courses of people that we use, our own trainers who train our people and we also acknowledge achievement. It’s a great fun time and it’s called the “scoop.” I want to go to that this year. I want to go back now to the break in 1977, you gave up your Young Life area which was prospering. You interviewed for IBM and you thought you had the job. You knew you had the job and you didn’t have the job so what happened next?
HH: Well, let’s see. A long time of just kind of coasting with an empty gas can and fumes. That was so debilitating to me. I have though that I had totally misread-the biggest part was I thought that I’ve totally misread what God was saying to me. I thought am I nuts so I was just really depressed. I heard a guy speak in Washington, D.C. who we both know He talked about something, Covenant Relationships. The person that came to my mind was Carol Anderson. Soon as I got to a place where there was a phone, I called her and said how are you doing? She said I’m so glad you called me. I’ve just left the place I’ve been designing for after eight years. Four companies are after me. Here’s their pluses and here’s their minuses, what do you think I should do? I was getting ready to tell her what I thought she should do she said, but you know what, the apparel is so tough, it’s such a touch industry if I stay in it I’d have to do it on my own. Hugh, you know me well enough to know I’m really slow-I don’t make decisions right away and right then the almost the only time I know of it in my life, I said let’s start a company. I absolutely knew I was supposed to say that. On the other end of the line Carol said are you in sane! [laughter] She said are you in sane? You don’t know anything about the apparel business. I said you think about it for two weeks and I’ll call you. I went home and wrote 13 pages of questions. I called a friend of mine who is an older guy who was on my Young Life Committee. I left the Committee but we were obviously all still friends and I said can we have lunch tomorrow? His name was Dan Hardman. We got together and he answered all my questions. At the end of it I said Dan. . .
HH: Was he in the fashion business?
JJ: He was in the fashion business. He was a sales rep in the Northwest for Cola California was one of his lines by the way. I said Dan, after we had about a one and a half hour lunch and went through all 13 pages of questions, I said Dan, do you see any problems? He said, yeah, two. I said what are they? He said money and knowledge. You don’t have any of either! I thought big deal. Money is just a thing you can raise. It’s a commodity like anything else. Knowledge? I just had graduated with a Masters Degree in two foreign languages I didn’t know. I immediately went to the downtown library and got the reference librarian in Seattle and said let’s find everything there is on the apparel business. We looked for about an hour. We found one book, 56 pages long called “Let’s Make a Raincoat.” The next Pulitzer Prize will probably not come from the apparel business! [laughing]
HH: Let’s make a raincoat? [laughing] Have you ever sent somebody out to find a copy of that book to like put at CAbi Headquarters International? Let’s make a raincoat!
JJ: I should.
HH: So how did you learn what you needed to know to run a business?
JJ: I just kept asking questions, would talk to guys, talk to friends. A friend of mine said do you know what a cash flow model is? I said no. What’s that? He showed me how to do it. He just got his MBA, showed me 18 months. I put it together and saw I needed to raise $60,000 grand and did it.
HH: We will be right back. We’re going to talk about starting businesses and if you interested in CAbi, 800-501-1412. Special 800 number set up to get you connected with a CAbi consultant in your area. I’ll be right back on the Hug Hewitt Show.
HH: Thirty-four minutes after the hour, America. A special hour of The Hugh Hewitt Show talking with my friend and I say that he really is a good friend of mine. Jan Janura is the founder along with his wife, Carol Anderson of CAbi but he is also-he’s got a dark, dark side. He is a fly fisherman and he tricked me into going fly fishing for five endless days-the Baton Fly Float I called it and it was horrible. It was terrible. It was a wonderful time, but he does this because he takes groups of men to have a great time fishing and serious conversation about God and their life. If you want to learn about that www.jkwa.net. That stands for Jan and Ken’s Wonderful Adventures-Wild Adventures. www.jkwa.net like in fishnet. Jan, why do you do that?
JJ: I got to take you back to that trip.
HH: No! [laughing] No!
JJ: I have to ask you a question. When you where there, so was Barack Obama. What’s with that?
HH: He was. He flew in the same time. That’s when I was on the Madison was when the President and Mrs. Obama and their wonderful daughters were screwing up all of the air traffic in Montana so it did kind of put an overlay on it, but I’m sure he was a better fisherman than I was and I betcha he wasn’t very good. Anyway, why do you do these adventures?
JJ: Fly fishing which is the only kind of fishing that I do is a lot like golf. It’s not about the fishing stuff. I don’t any other kind of fishing, but I know you are a great golfer, but you know if you don’t have a great swing, you can take all the lessons you want, you can play Augusta and you’re never going to be great. In fly fishing you can learn to be great. Even you.
HH: There was no evidence of that over the course of four days! That was actually a hypothesis without any evidentiary basis.
JJ: That’s not true. You caught fish and you were doing great. The thing that I found out that I liked was that your out in this-away from all the noise, out in these beautiful settings and in fly fishing you have to totally focus down. It’s not some sort of lazy, lethargic deal. You have to be into it. You got to be 100% focused. It’s got to be the right fly, it’s got to be moving at the same speed as the stream and everything and I mean there’s a ton to it. I love it because I always learn something even after all these years. Thirty-one years ago, I love to convene times with guys, great guys and have tons of fun, but have serious conversations. Those things seem to really lead themselves to me so thirty-one years ago-I mean we took a group of guys every year to Alaska for 13 years. I mean you are away from the noise. You can focus in and 18 years ago I bought a ranch in Montana to do that very thing and I’ve been doing that there with the help of some friends and like this year we will have seven trips, 12 guys go on each trip. We read a book before we go. I think the best men’s book I’ve ever read “Wild at Heart.” We have discussions about it. Each guy tells a story. It’s not Bible camp. It’s a ton of fun. We have the occasional glass of red wine.
JJ: Occasional. Pretty occasionally!
HH: Pretty occasionally! You also have bears that bang into your cabins and you really don’t want to go to the bath house in the middle of the night or you’ll be eaten alive by these giant, ferocious bears! It is a wonderful time. I’m just curious as to why you love it so.
JJ: I think, I think I love it because it feeds a part of me where I get to really resonate on the deep part of my life with other guys in an honest way. I think guys really want to do that, but I think our whole society doesn’t let us. All we talk about are how about those Bears or look at her or this or that. I don’t need a steady diet of that stuff. I can get that done in 15 seconds, but to talk about the substantive, big issues of life and they don’t have to agree with me. That’s why I’m doing this.
HH: I also think that you are still doing ministry from the observer and so ministry and business have not been exclusive to you. They’ve never been. They’ve been intertwined your entire life.
JJ: Oh, I think that’s the deal, integration. I think that’s one of the biggest problem for guys why we do this stuff. Most guys reluctantly go to a church flip that Sunday switch on in their head for an hour to an hour and-a-half and act in a way that they are models-I mean they are faking it and they know they are. They can’t wait to get out of there.
HH: You also make a habit of motivating people. You send them these cards. I have two of them right here. One from C.S. Lewis. “There is no neutral ground in the universe. Every square inch every split second is claimed by God and counter-claimed by Satan.” The other is General George Patton, “Ten Leadership Principles”. I don’t know what happened to my Henri Nouwen.
JJ: “Answers before there are questions do one great soul harm.”
HH: You love these things. Why do you send these? I love them.
JJ: I love them. I love them because they remind me of stuff. My favorite one of all time is by Saint Ardanus and to me this is another answer to that question why do you do that, and he was around 200 A.D. He was under Polycarp who was under Paul. He has a great quote. It’s “the glory of God is man fully alive.” I mean. . .
HH: That’s it. Jan Janura is my guest from CAbi. CAbionline.com if you want to learn more about this or call 800-501-1412. We’re going to talk about life CAbi consultant when we come right back.
HH: Forty-four minutes after the hour, America. It’s Hugh Hewitt. My week of business stories, my good friend, Jan Janura, was willing to come in and talk about how he and his wonderful wife, Carol Anderson, first started Carol Anderson and now CAbi and how it’s grown into this enormous and amazing successful business. The largest direct sales or women’s fashion company in the United States with 3,000 CAbi consultants working for them. This is the payoff now Jan Janura for the women who have been waiting around. Who are these 3,000 and why did they get into it and why are they good at it? What make’s them great at being business women and sales people?
JJ: Well, there are as many answers to that as there are consultants in our company, but the great thing that I’ve been able to see are the stories and the stories of their lives and the way its changed their lives. We talked about the “scoop” when we bring all these people together and we do our fashion show and we acknowledge achievement and we do training. Over the years I’ve seen people come to those and they start out and they are kind of timid at the start and they are not quite sure what they are going to do, and I see them six months later and they may have slimmed down a couple of pounds and there’s a real-their shoulders are back. There is a confidence in them. I mean-Cabi takes a lot of women who have been housewives for maybe the last 20 years even though they came into that with who knows a bachelors or masters degree and maybe were working and felt real sure of themselves and they’ve been kind of relegated kind of the family chauffer for the last 15 years. This is a real great way to re-enter and people have built huge businesses through this.
HH: Oh, they make a lot of money. They do very well.
JJ: Some of them unbelievably well and there’s a great-our President Kimberly Inskeep has done a phenomenal job building a culture of these women around it that’s tremendous. One of our little mantras is, “wear the clothes, do the shows and propose”. By wearing the clothes it just happens. We couldn’t just dream this stuff up but it just works great. People look great in CAbi. You wear the clothes-we train our people. Somebody is going to go up to you and say what a cute outfit. Where did you get that? Well, what a lead in. We say always carry your business cards. Give them a business card and tell them your in the business and would you like-and they say yeah. You get 8 or 10 friends together. They have a party. You do the show. Everybody is there. It’s fun. They have a glass of wine, try stuff on, walk away-by the way, our shows in the MLM industry are average shows are 3-5 times higher than any of them.
HH: Let’s unpack that. MLM stands for multi-level marketing. A show means when you gather people together to present product.
JJ: Right and I think we’re called what’s called the party-home party deal or whatever. Yeah, you have 8 to 10 people there. The great part is too that everybody hates to go to their first show. It’s like another-Oh, I have to do this. They go to one of these. It’s so much fun. They come home. We have thousands of instances where women will say I came home wearing this stuff and my husband said wow does that look great on you. Well, I mean that’s a rare deal, right?
JJ: So it registers. Once people go to a CAbi show, wear the stuff, get these compliments, I mean they re-book again so this is a real business. This isn’t like you get sell somebody a frying pan and they don’t need a frying pan again forever.
HH: How many times a year do you come out with a new line?
JJ: Twice a year. We do a fall line and a spring line.
HH: If people want to look at CAbiCanery.com is your blog. By the way, great new social media. Tremendous operating there. CAbiCanery.com, correct?
HH: So people can check that out or they can go to CAbionline.com. Something that you said at lunch that I want to emphasize is that if someone is thinking about starting a business, whether its becoming a CAbi consultant or anything, if what did you say, if they take a step?
JJ: I said in the 33 years of business one of the biggest things that I’ve learned is taking that first step. Taking the first step of doing something puts you ahead of 90% of everybody else. Everybody else is waiting for something to happen to them. If you want to get somewhere, you have to make that decision to make that step. It may not be the right one, but at least you’ll start to get moving and you’ll be able to make adjustments that way. I think that’s to me when we started business 33 years ago, I went to Europe for three months with a friend of mine. You said what happened to you after IBM didn’t want me. I went to Europe. I ran away for a while with a buddy of mine. I came back. I saw Europe had all these stratifications of government and I was a very pro America guy before I left, but when I came back I saw the difference between here and there was light years. You could make something of yourself here. There it was almost impossible. I think the tragic deal is that we’ve started to stratify this country just like they have in Europe and that’s the killer. There’s still hope here but man, we’ve got to take it back in my opinion. We’ve got to get rid of all of the restrictions. Sorry!