“Everything that we do helps us get where we end up,” says Chrissy Sayare, MBA’96, Global Advisory Board member, describing her journey as an entrepreneur.
Chrissy is the co-owner, along with her husband, Mitch, a former biotech executive and scientist, of To Be Continued, a high-end consignment boutique in Scottsdale, Arizona, launched in 2014. The couple opened a second store in Dallas last year and have expanded the business to include an online store serving bargain-hunting fashionistas around the world.
A lifelong fashion lover, Chrissy began bargain hunting as a youth. She grew up in Brockton, Massachusetts, and would travel to Boston with her mother to search the racks at Filene’s Basement, known for its deeply discounted merchandise. “I learned how to get what I wanted on a very limited budget,” she says. At 8 years old, she designed clothes and “hired” her grandmother, who lived on the second floor of their double-decker house, to sew her designs. “I was the only one wearing these clothes,” she says of her first entrepreneurial endeavor, “but I was in charge.”
Although she loved fashion, Chrissy studied classic literature at New York University, including a year of study abroad in Paris. “It never occurred to me that one goes to college to study fashion,” she says. Uncertain what to do after graduation, she started an errand-running service. She soon identified an opportunity to handle dry cleaning for guests of Bostonarea hotels and submitted proposals to several hotel housekeeping managers. When her phone began to ring, Spotless Express was founded.
Chrissy didn’t have a vehicle for deliveries, so her father, a Greek immigrant who worked as a drywaller, lent her money to buy a secondhand car, a stick shift she had to learn how to drive. “My parents always encouraged my weird entrepreneurial dreams,” says Chrissy. She connected with a nearby dry cleaner, and on her first day in business, in August 1991, Hurricane Bob hit New England and the power went out. In hindsight, Chrissy is glad that she didn’t anticipate the many challenges she would face. Fear of what can go wrong can slow you down, she says. “With entrepreneurs,” she adds, “you do what it takes.”
After running her business for three years, Chrissy was eager to take the next step in her career. She applied to the Babson MBA program and, on the strength of her business experience, received a scholarship that allowed her to attend. She then worked at several recruiting firms during the tech boom, and in 2000 started an executive search firm, Think Hire, which she ran until 2013. Wanting to try her hand at a fashion-oriented business, Chrissy asked one of her sisters to run Think Hire and launched To Be Continued.
Chrissy now sees strong parallels between recruiting and high-end consignment. In a job search, she says, there are two customers, the company and the candidate; Chrissy paid attention to both their needs, which she believes contributed to her success as a recruiter.
Similarly, in consignment, she has to gain the trust of two clients with competing objectives. “I have to connect someone who wants a bargain on an expensive piece with someone who wants to get the best return possible on their item,” she says.
Chrissy remains grateful for her Babson scholarship. She and her husband recently created the Katharine Sayare Scholarship for Women in Business, named for her late stepdaughter. She hopes the scholarship will give a student the confidence that comes from knowing someone believes in her, taking the edge off the financial burden and offering the freedom to pursue something that takes gumption. “That’s what it did for me,” she says.—Jeff Stupakevich, manager, advancement communications