Sonntag, April 03, 2005

Megan talks Business - Wettach for Governor?

Megan Wettach in her storeMount Pleasant, Ia. - Megan Amanda Wettach - former Miss Teen Iowa, current Miss Burlington and would-be Miss Iowa - hurried into the store on the Mount Pleasant town square ready to talk business.

Her business.

A growing business.

"We did a half million dollars in revenue this past year," said Wettach, sitting a few feet from hundreds of prom dresses on the racks in her store. "I didn't have any idea this would be possible when I started."

Who, indeed, would have imagined?

The 21-year-old University of Iowa junior started her business when she was a senior at Mount Pleasant High School. She and her parents, Steven and Mary Wettach, both dentists in Mount Pleasant, sketched out a plan on a napkin driving home from a trip to West Virginia. They'd been there buying clothes for a pageant Wettach was entering and she wondered why there wasn't a store like that in Iowa.

"Lots of girls enter pageants," she said. "They need suits for interviews, swimsuits and gowns. I decided there was a niche."

And since every girl needs a prom dress - or two or three by the time they finish high school - why not sell those as well?

That's how the first business, Premier Prom & Pageantry, started in a small building next to her parents' house here. Word got around and girls started driving from Des Moines, Waterloo, Davenport, Illinois and Missouri for dresses.

Wettach moved her business to the town square, changed the name to Premier Prom and Bridal Boutique and started selling wedding dresses.

In 2002, her first year in business, she convinced suppliers a 17-year-old girl would pay the bills and she sold 75 dresses. Now, suppliers make dresses especially for Wettach. She has 18 employees, her business has been featured in national magazines and 1,500 dresses hang in her store.

Then there's a second business. It's her own line of clothes called the Megan Amanda Collection. She comes up with the concept, has dress designers in New York, China, Russia, Brazil and, yes, Mount Pleasant, sketch it out. The dresses are being manufactured in China and the first samples are going to buyers at retail outlets next week.

"This really is exceeding all of our expectations," she said.

One admirer is Gov. Tom Vilsack.

"She got that business started in high school and people in town scratched their heads about it," said Vilsack, a family friend from Mount Pleasant. "But she developed into an extraordinarily shrewd businesswoman. She has high expectations about herself and she's met those expectations. She's everything you'd want in a young person."

Wettach vows that her businesses won't keep her from finishing college. And she promises her businesses - including ones that aren't yet operating - will remain in Iowa.

"I was offered a job by a (dress) manufacturer to help double the size of his business," she said. It meant big money, but Wettach passed.

"It was a great opportunity, but I want my own businesses," she said. "The Megan Amanda Collection has the potential to be a multimillion-dollar business within several years. I'm going to have a national fashion label and have it based in Iowa."

That's because she is committed to making it all happen in Iowa.

"This is where I'm from," she said. "This is where I'm staying."

What about the future?

"I'm in the Miss Iowa Pageant in June," she said. "I'm taking a semester off college to prepare for that."

Will there be more businesses?

"I'd like to have stores around the Midwest. I'd like to become the number one prom dress wholesaler in the country. I'd like to be the CEO of several of my own businesses."

Marriage and kids?

"Absolutely. I understand I have to have a life."

What else?

"I'm thinking of politics someday. The truth? I'd like to be the first woman elected governor of Iowa."

The current governor won't be surprised if it happens. "She's going places," Vilsack said.

"I have goals," Wettach said. "I want to show young girls they can be successful in business and politics. I want to show them they can strive for excellence and succeed."
[ Read it all at: Des Moines Register ]

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