I was talking to someone the other day about how hard it was to find information about opening a business when we decided that we wanted to open a boutique.
Yes there are organizations that have wonderful things to say about getting loans and maxing out credit cards. Lots of people told us to borrow money from our friends who were doing well, our parents, boyfriend, etc. But what do you do when you don’t have a boyfriend, when your friends have less money than you do and your parents dont have anything to spare but love.
I will tell you what to do. You go it alone. You roll up your sleeves and you get dirty. Not dirty business. But dirty like covered in paint and sawdust up to your elbows. Casey and I are going to start writing more about the business side of work. The working 80 hours a week. Living off the kindness of Harrison st cafe and Edo’s feeding us when we were poor and our friend volunteering to work in our store and piece it together.
In the beginning it was easy. We decided we wanted a store. Casey was a few months away from graduating from vcu with a degree in fashion merchandising and I had already finished my studies in business. There was a lot of laughter and perusing websites looking for the perfect clothing lines to carry in our store. We had a good business plan model and we were ready to take over the world. My boyfriend dumped me and I moved into Casey’s tiny one bedroom apartment so we could save more money. We worked retail jobs from dusk till dawn and we spent the remainder of our nights blogging and perfecting our business plan. We saved every penny we could. I worked at Elwood Thompson’s organic market and most of the food we ate was from the free bin. If we found a nickel on the ground we would deposit it into your account.Every cent matters.
We decided to triple our work amount. We added part time jobs to our full time jobs. We did three fashion shows as well as start a Richmond Womens Collective. We wanted to see how well we worked together so we made sure we were together all the time. We were slightly worried that working together might ruin our friendship so we decided that more important than anything was friendship. So we wrote into our partnership agreement that if the friendship falls apart then we stop the business.
We also starting traveling around to find more inspiration. Casey went to Spain, I went to Belgium, We went to Antwerp and Amsterdam, Paris, Mexico City, New York, Los Angeles, Maryland, D.C, North Carolina, Boston, Philadelphia.Anywhere we could get to for cheap we were there. Luckily my mother works for the airline so it was much easier to get around. THANKGOD FOR AWESOME PARENTS. Casey and I have some of the most amazing parents in the whole world. Well after getting inspiration from boutiques we needed inspiration from other women who own business’s.
We started contacting every woman we could find in a 500 mile radius who runs Sh**. This wasn’t hard at all. Richmond Women have been running things for generations. We sat down with some of the most amazing women in our city they shared stories about started and gave us great advice. Free advice is the best. And you have to learn from the veterans who made it as well as the ones who fell if you want to make it.
We gave ourselves a two year goal to open the store. A month after Casey graduated we decided that we were far to ambitious to wait a year and a half to open the store so we went full speed. Our business plan was finished we were ready to meet with the banks. We met with Wachovia first and it was horrible the guy we met with recommended we ask our boyfriends and our Dads for money. Next we met with Small Visions and Ventures they had a good amount of advice but they were not helpful. Next we met with the Small Business Association they told us honestly our chances of making it in Richmond as two young punkish girls opening a boutique, lets just say the chances were not that high. But they told us that we were very confident and that we needed a LLC immediately.
So we called Bernie Dietz…
stay tuned for part 2