Self-taught Clothing Designer Keeps Business Afloat with Line of Credit
For the past 15 years, Trinidad and Tobago immigrant 61-year-old Marcia Charles has owned and operated Pinky Rose Boutique, a women’s clothing store in Los Angeles, California. Her most famous creation is the Nada, a comfortable jumpsuit fashioned out of Rayon spandex. The jumpsuit is known for built-in pockets that transform into a belt.
As a young woman, Marcia worked with different clothing boutiques and department stores. “I made so much money for so many other people I felt I could do this on my own. That’s why in 2003 I finally decided to open up my boutique business,” says Marcia.
When the Economy Went South, so did Pinky Rose’s Financing
In 2008, the economy sputtered. Even though Pinky Rose Boutique sales were doing well, Marcia lost access to her line of credit and credit cards when the bank retracted them. “My line of credit and my credit cards were all taken from me not because I wasn’t paying, not because I didn’t have good credit, it’s what happened in the banking industry. They crippled a lot of small businesses, and I was one of them,” explains Marcia. To make ends meet, she began wholesaling her designs to create an additional revenue stream.
Marica was financially responsible for a home and a business, but couldn’t afford both. As a 50-year-old, she wasn’t confident about her employment outlook, so Marcia decided to support the business and lost her home. Reducing the store’s high-end clothing line and carrying more moderately-priced items helped bring in more business. Her daughter also stepped in to help out at the store, but without a line of credit, it was becoming impossible to keep the business going.
“It wasn’t easy dealing with lenders who said they can help and then charging me 45% for a loan,” says Marcia. “But I’ve been blessed with a good landlord who is supportive of me because he sees how hard I work. I’m doing okay, but from where I came from, it’s amazing that I was even in business at all.”
Opportunity Fund Came Through with Credit at a Fair Interest Rate
Without a credit line, Marcia was surviving on cash and credit card sales. She was contacted by many lenders that take advantage of small businesses that are short on funds. “There isn’t a business that can exist without a line of credit, and they knew that, so they figured a way to hustle small businesses and I got hustled, using my credit card sales to pay them back,” explains Marcia.
These predatory lenders were willing to loan Pinky Rose Boutique money as long as Marcia was willing to pay a really high-interest rate. One lender charged her 45%. Upon hearing Marcia’s financial challenges, a customer told her about the Opportunity Fund.
Funding Helped Pinky Rose When it Needed it Most
Robert at Opportunity Fund answered her call and explained how it might be able to help. Upon qualifying, an Opportunity Fund loan helped Marcia pay off the extremely high-interest loan and replaced the funds at a manageable, lower interest rate. Reducing the payment burden helped Pinky Rose Boutique stay in business.
The application process was simple. Opportunity Fund looked at the creditworthiness of the Pinky Rose Boutique and let Marcia know what Opportunity Fund could offer. If something major happened such as another recession, Marcia knew she could call and work out an arrangement.
Lower Payments Help the Boutique Stitch Together a Better Business Plan
“Opportunity Fund helped me pay off the high-interest loan. The lower payments gave me the extra money to start wholesaling my designs, which has grown in the past three years. Without Opportunity Fund I wouldn’t have had the money to do it,” says Marcia. “My wholesale business balances out my cash flow when the retail side isn’t doing well. I’m hoping to get both retail and wholesale working at the same level. I see Opportunity Fund as a very fair lender and concerns for the small business person like myself.”
Improving the Community is High on the List of Priorities
Remembering the valuable experiences gained working during summers, school breaks and holidays inspired Marcia to hire and work with young people in the community, and also improve the neighborhood for the small businesses. “I was a pioneer, the first boutique on the street. Along with two other restaurants, we were the first businesses here,” comments Marcia. “This is a good location now, but when I started, there was nothing on the street. Somebody has to pave the way, right? Like Martin Luther King did.”
Pinky Rose Boutique has Beautiful Designs for the Future
Going forward, Marcia would like to open up another Pinky Rose Boutique and only carry her own designs, like the Nada dress. The goal would be to establish her own brand of comfort couture clothing.
“I am grateful for Opportunity Fund, its private donors and partner banks for not taking advantage of small business owners. We need someone like Opportunity Fund in our corner to keep going and keep growing. I think it helps both parties. You’re doing this for us, and we’re doing good for you,” concludes Marcia.