So thrilled to have this opportunity for myself and for ACT II!


For Deanne Ross, helping women gain poise and confidence through fashion is a calling she discovered early. Ross and her mother, Dolores Buller, have been running Act II clothing stores in La Mesa together since Ross was a teenager, and take pride in offering advice and guidance along with trendy, resale clothing and accessories.

Ross, a graduate of Valhalla High School in El Cajon, provides fashion presentations to customers and to student and community groups. A mother of a nine-year-old daughter, and avid runner, Ross, 46, of Rancho San Diego, completed the Boston Marathon this year.

Q: Please describe what you do.

A: I am fortunate to work in a field that combines my two passions: being with people and working in fashion. All of us are surrounded by different people every day and almost everyone reflects their personality in their fashion choices. Sometimes they get stuck and need help with choosing an outfit. That is where I can assist and offer ideas and encouragement. Helping people put an outfit together is a win for me and a win for the customer. I feel good about helping someone and they feel better about themselves.

Q: How did your family open the Act II stores?

A: My mom started the stores over 33 years ago. Following a divorce, she was looking for a way to support herself and her two daughters. She heard about a woman selling a consignment store and decided to buy it. She had been a homemaker for 16 years and was nervous about starting a business she knew very little about, but stepped up to the challenge. I immediately loved the store atmosphere and started pitching in with everything from window dressings to assisting customers. Following my graduation from San Diego State University in 1992, I took my B.A. in Speech Communications to work with me and started running ACT II full time.

Q: Please tell us about the fashion presentations you provide.

A: The store offers an open forum for fashion ideas and styles. Everyone from me to the employees contribute to the fashion conversation at ACT II. Fashion is changing all the time but that doesn’t mean it has to be intimidating, stressful or expensive for someone to make a fashion choice. What you wear should reflect you and not a trend. Several times a year a Mesa College fashion department classes visit ACT II for a presentation I lead. I also conduct a similar demonstration at Grossmont College. Additionally, I host fashion shows at venues ranging from rotary clubs to churches. One presentation highlight was when I went to the San Diego County District Attorney’s office and provided a fashion presentation on workplace appropriate attire. The women in the office loved it and came away empowered to look their best every day.

Q: Please tell us how you help women dress for important transitions in their lives.

A: Sometimes I feel like ACT II is part psychiatry office and part clothing store. Customers often need advice or face a fashion challenge like what to wear for a wedding, funeral, baby shower or court date. Everyone working at ACT II understands these situations and how important they are in people’s lives. Our specialty is putting together outfits that work for that event or moment when a woman wants to feel her best.

Q: What are some of the tips you offer to women dressing for a job interview?

A: Interviews can be for a variety of jobs but they all share one common denominator: Looking sharp and polished puts you at an advantage. You want the clothes you select to compliment you and not detract from the focus of the interview. The individual, not the clothes, needs to shine through.

Q: Please tell us what it is like working with your mom.

A: I often get this question. I am lucky to have a unique bond with my mother. We share a relationship based on the people in our lives and the customers that walk into our stores. We value those connections and share the ups and downs that come with working in retail. My mom is an inspiration to me in her love of life and energy.

Q: What is the most valuable lesson you’ve learned as a small-business owner?

A: A small-business owner is a jack-of-all-trades. Nothing is off limits and you have to be willing to get your hands dirty from pitching in to paint the store to running electricity. You also need to watch business trends like social media. It wasn’t long ago that Facebook and Instagram didn’t exist and now over half the work I do now is online.

Q: What’s the best advice you ever received?

A: I’m still getting it. My husband is my primary source for solid advice about life, running, work and parenting.

Q: What is one thing people would be surprised to find out about you?

A: I have been cancer free for over seven years.

Q: Please describe your ideal San Diego weekend.

A: The ideal San Diego weekend would be spending a busy Saturday with customers in our stores, include a good run with girlfriends and a trip out on the bay with my husband and daughter in our boat.

What I love about Rancho San Diego, La Mesa and East County… its small town feel and comfortable community setting. It is where I grew up and I still enjoy running into friends from childhood. Everyone is easy to talk to and down to Earth. The people and the sunny weather make it a wonderful place to live.