Published October 23, 2019
Like countless 7-year-old girls, Rozalynn Goodwin’s daughter, Gabby, was constantly losing her hair barrettes. Tired of replacing the costly little things, Goodwin and her daughter took matters into their own hands and invented GaBBY Bows – the first patented, double-face double-snap barrette. Problem solved and business created.
“I started to sell the barrettes online in February 2014,” says Goodwin, who hails from Mt. Carmel, South Carolina. “Now, we fill online orders to all 50 states in the U.S. and ten countries. Beauty supply and retail stores across America, Canada and South Africa sell GaBBY Bows – and 74 Target stores began carrying them in October 2019!”
But that’s not all. In November 2018, the mother and daughter team franchised their brand, launching the Mommy and Me Entrepreneurship Academy. To date, they’ve helped 80 girls start their own businesses.
Naturally, the press came calling. They’ve appeared on The Real, The Harry Connick, Jr. Show and The Today Show. The pair has also been featured in Kiplinger Magazine, The Washington Post and Black Enterprise.
GaBBY Bows was named a 2016 American Small Business Champion by SCORE and Sam’s Club. And Gabby, herself, was named the 2018 Black Enterprise Teenpreneur of the Year.
GaBBY Bows is experiencing accelerated growth, and a couple of credit cards are helping the duo keep up with a seemingly endless flow of orders.
What was the start of your business like?
The beginning of our business was frightening, quite honestly. As first (and now second) generation entrepreneurs, we had no idea what we were doing. Thank God for organizations like SCORE Mentors and our local government offices of business opportunity.
We’ve had to overcome challenges of securing funding to grow our business. Taking an idea of a new, physical product from paper to prototype to production was daunting. And banks were not excited enough about our dream to lend to us – especially since one of our product creators and business partners was still in elementary school. My husband and I had to tap into retirement funds in the early stages of the business.
Were there any surprise costs that caught you off guard?
Having a physical product that’s sold through e-commerce, I was surprised by the high costs of shipping to consumers and wholesale partners.
Also, not having worked with attorneys before, I was surprised that every minute of phone consultations regarding our intellectual property was costing me.
See related: 9 common small business costs, and the best cards to pay them
How have you been using credit cards for the business?
When our expenses for growth exceeded what we could easily access through retirement loan funds, we used credit cards to launch new aspects of our business – including our micro-franchising through our Mommy and Me Entrepreneurship Academy and girls’ natural hair product line.
We knew we needed to extend our brand beyond our barrette invention, but we didn’t have the required cash on hand to do so.
While banks have not been as eager to help fund our growth through traditional loans, they have been more amenable to credit card financing. So, we have a BB&T Spectrum Cash Rewards credit card and a Security Federal Mastercard (as it’s our local bank).
I have to admit that I haven’t maximized the rewards they come with – and I should probably get that going!
My credit is impeccable, and I always make payments on time, but we are usually leveraged because we’re growing so rapidly. It’s stressful. Credit cards are great but at some points, they aren’t enough. The Target opportunity is huge so I’m actively pursuing a term loan.
What types of expenses do you typically charge?
We only charge business growth and development expenses that we believe will yield returns – mainly manufacturing and inventory.
For example, some of our micro-franchising legal fees and some of the manufacturing of our girls’ natural hair product line was charged. Spreading out these business development expenses allowed us to keep cash on hand for daily operations.
Tip: As any smart entrepreneur knows, there are some things you don’t put on business plastic. Whether you’re running a one-person shop or a burgeoning small company, find out the 8 expenses you should never charge on a business credit card.
Do you have any regrets – anything you’d like to do over?
When we didn’t fully understand who our target avatar was, we veered from her a little, created a new clip with a different function and wasted a small amount of money.
I also wish we had saved more in our early days, but these and other losses have been lessons for us and all who follow us. For that reason, we don’t regret our path.
What are the future plans for the business?
We’re on a mission to help 1,000 girls and their mothers start their own business by 2025. And we want to continue to extend our products and services so those businesses are profitable, while their entrepreneurial pursuits incite confidence and creativity that lasts a lifetime.
We’re on a mission to help 1,000 girls and their mothers start their own business by 2025.
What have you discovered about cash and credit that you can share?
Definitely tap into the free or low-cost resources surrounding you, like SCORE Mentors, your local government offices of business opportunity, the Small Business Administration and 1 Million Cups.
We have learned that borrowing money for the business is more appropriate for growth and expansion. If it appears that money needs to be borrowed for daily operating expenses, a business’s budget needs to be reevaluated. Perhaps the business expenses are too costly.
Regarding credit cards, I’ve learned to use them when I know I’ll see the return in revenue. With credit cards, I can buy in bulk and get things cheaper – I don’t need to tie up cash.
My advice is to always have a plan to pay the debt off. Set goals to eliminate debt. And, more than anything, enjoy the journey!