Money Isn't Always the Motive But Having Some Helps

 Christina Amelia, Ilbert J. Sanchez, Kimberly Bennett, Naomi Johnson, Valjean Guerra II

Christina Amelia, Ilbert J. Sanchez, Kimberly Bennett, Naomi Johnson, Valjean Guerra II

When starting a brand, the first place to go isn’t always to the investors. Sometimes, we just don’t have the fully fleshed out plan to present as yet. Regardless, we still need some ways to generate some income to get things started. Purchasing products, paying for a website, running a few ads, etc. all come with a cost. Here is how 5 entrepreneurs decided to kick their businesses off by raising money on their own.

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“Personally, I saved for a total of 2-3 months and at first only bought materials that were needed to launch. I learned and spent more later on down the line as I grew. If i had to guesstimate, I would say $1,000 total to start depending on the business. First purchases were logo design, LLC Payment, and Website fees…the foundation of the business, the non-tangible things that start any business. You don’t need as much as many think you do. I saved from my day job and also began using my skills of website development and created 2 websites for 2 different companies - additional work to make more $$ on the side.”

- Christina Amelia, Founder and CEO, SkinByAme

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“After I quit my job, I wasn’t sure I had enough money to pay my rent. I am also a graphic designer so I had some website clients, I was doing projects for Google, and some other side work in design. Those checks were what I used to survive when I took that leap of faith. All of 2017, I didn’t go out, I didn’t travel, cut back on brunches…and I had to be very frugal. I only spent money on personal bills and the company. I was full time before my business partner was so a percentage went to the company and then a percentage went to me. The first set of money I got went towards fabric books because that is the like the gas into a car. You need to show the fabrics in order to make the suit. We had fabric books but we had the basic of the basic until we had enough to level up. That was the beginning.”

- Ilbert Sanchez, CEO, Garcon Couture

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“My firm was started with my personal savings. Like most entrepreneurs, self-funding is the reality for almost all solo and small firm attorneys. While we all would love the opportunity to start a business with zero dollars invested, that's not always possible. However, making smart choices with your money early in your business can pay in dividends later. Although I don't remember my first purchase, if I had to guess what it was, it was probably paying the state fees to form my LLC. While registering my business was not the most exciting thing to do, it was necessary. “

- Kimberly Bennett, Founder, KBennett Law, LLC

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“I hustled…like crazy. I’ve just been feeling liek working for somebody is not an option for me. I’m not opposed to the idea for other people but for me, I wanted to stick it out and I knew that there were ways to do this without clocking in for someone else. Honestly, Phone Sex has been paying the bills. It really funded the entire mission. I found someone on Instagram. I was trying to figure out what I was doing before…I was struggling, I was crying. I was about to get evicted so at that point I was going to be a nomad, a cute ass bum. It allowed me freedom and flexibility to be at home and on my computer and then switch over when a call came in. Some weeks were great, other weeks not so much. So just having an open mind in regards to my business was key. I’ve also done Air B’n’B. I had a two bedroom apartment to myself so I rented out the second room and that really helped me get by.”

Naomi Johnson, Founder, Place to Palace

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“I was djing first with my cousin but we weren’t getting gigs so he wanted to quit but I didn’t feel like I had enough connections to do it by myself. I had clippers at home so i decided to practice so I would be able to work in a shop. The first thing I bought was my business cards. I had the name Clip Headz and I put what I specialized in but I spelled Caesar wrong - and my dad ragged me for it. Not too long after, my aunt had just moved out of her house but it was vacant so I told her I was going to buy a chair and put it in the house and set it up as my studio. But when I went to buy the chair, my friend took me to a shop and I asked him ‘what are we doing here?’ One of the guys recognized me and he asked how long I’ve been cutting so I had to tell the story - told him year and a half even though I was only about a month in; he asked me when I can start. Two weeks later, I started at that shop and that’s how it all began. I saved up the money I got there and used that to start my own thing. All started with the chair.”

-Valjean Guerra II, Founder and Lead Groomer, Cathedra NYC