Okay, I know for sure I’m going to build this business and I also know I’m going to need money. But, I never gave that much thought at all; I would just go to the bank and borrow it. My credit was excellent and I had never been turned down for a loan in my life. How could this be a problem?
I made an appointment with my accountant and told him all about my plans. He said when I was ready he would write a business plan for me. My accountant had been with me for years; he knew I had a great sense for business and that I was a very determined woman. I have no formal education in business, but I do have a natural gift. He warned me that times were very different now and banks weren’t loaning money as easily as they had in the past. But I never thought for a second I couldn’t get a loan. So, he gave me a list of all the information he would need to write a business plan and off I went.
First I had to gather the cost of manufacturing clothes. What did I know about manufacturers? So back to the internet I went. I typed in clothing manufacturers in the United States. There was a long list and most were in foreign countries, but I narrowed it down to a few companies that were fairly close to Ohio. I felt travel would be much easier if this place were closer. The most helpful company I found was in Allentown, Pennsylvania. When I called there, I actually spoke to the owner. I told him that I knew nothing about manufacturing clothes and would really need a lot of guidance. I shared with him what I wanted to make and he took a lot of time to explain what was involved in manufacturing clothes. Then he explained the costs; there were charges for everything. There were minimum orders per every color fabric, set up fees, marking fees and pattern maker fees. Once we got past all the set up fees, then there was the cost per item. Of course, he couldn’t quote any actual prices without patterns but he did give me a ballpark cost.
In my mind, I think I’ll make a variety of clothes for all the ages. But, after speaking to the factory owner and realizing what this may cost, I narrowed it down to four or five items. He had mentioned to me that I should probably start with just one thing. Was he crazy? How could I only make one thing? So I calculated that I may need as much as two or three hundred thousand dollars just for manufacturing 4 or 5 different items. Okay, I need to visit the bank and see about getting a loan. I can do this, no problem!
The reality of my request came very quickly. There was no way any bank was going to loan me that much money for a start-up business! I couldn’t believe it! What was I going to do now? I left the bank with my head down to my knees. The feeling I was experiencing really couldn’t be put into words. It was as if someone had just punched me in the stomach and knocked the wind out of me. I never dreamed a “little” thing like money would stand in my way!
But that devastating feeling was very short lived, my spirits began to rise again and I felt my enthusiasm returning. I realized I had a fairly large line of credit at the bank already and I could do this without a loan at all. I wouldn’t need that business plan after all! I remembered what the owner of the factory said, “Why don’t you start with just one thing?” A light bulb went off in my head and I said to myself, “I’ll start with jeans; everyone needs a good pair of jeans!” I was back…and I could do this!
I called factory owner back and talked about just making jeans. He told me very few jeans were made in the United States. He also told me they were very expensive to make and that he was one of the few manufacturers left in the U.S. who still made them. I pressed him for a ballpark price and he guesstimated about $20.00/each to make a child’s pair of jeans. Can you believe that price…I can buy a nice pair of jeans for Maggie at Children’s Place for $14.00. So, I called a few other manufacturers around the country trying to find someone who might give me a quote but without success; one place even hung up in my ear and told me, “Honey, nobody makes jeans in the U.S.” click…Karen