By Charles Warner The Union Daily Times, S.C.
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Female business ownership is a priority with both the SBDC and the SBA. Women who are interested in entrepreneurship should check out the free programs that exist within these organizations. For example, both groups each offer a template for writing a business plan. They offer support in getting the idea on paper, even to the point of doing some typing and quite a bit of editing.
A local entrepreneur got some help making her dream of owning her own business come true through an organization dedicated to the successful development of small businesses.
In January, the "Southern Pearls and Charm" boutique opened at 839A Main Street, Buffalo. The boutique is the fulfillment of a lifelong dream of owner Brandy Childers. Childers described her business as "a ladies and children's boutique" which offers customers "fashionable-looking, uniquely-looking, high-end clothing that we've made affordable for Union."
On Friday, Southern Pearls and Charm received a visit from US Fifth District Rep. Mick Mulvaney who said he learned of the boutique through Facebook and the Small Business Development Center. Mulvaney said he visited the boutique because of his interest in small business, an interest that grew out of his own experience as a businessman, including starting a business. He said it has been 10 years since he last started a business and one of the reasons he visits new businesses like Southern Pearls and Charm is to learn about the changes and challenges of starting a business today.
During his visit to Southern Pearls and Charm, Mulvaney said he was impressed with the boutique and its potential. Mulvaney said he was impressed with Childers' emphasis on investing in and developing an inventory that provides the public with lines of clothing and other items they can't get elsewhere locally. He said he feels that if Childers can keep her merchandise competitive her boutique can be a success, pointing out that he sees great opportunities for it, especially on the Internet.
Also visiting the boutique Friday was Larry J. Stevens, Winthrop Region Director of the Rock Hill Area Small Business Development Center, and Lewis Jeter, Business Consultant at the SBDC's Satellite Center in Union. Stevens and Jeter were present because the SBDC worked with Childers to help her set up Southern Pearls and Charm.
"Brandy called me in September to talk with me and see if there was anything the SBDC could do to help her," Jeter said. "She came in and we introduced ourselves and started to work on the concept of her business plan.
"She was already doing an online retail business when she came to see me, but she felt she needed a storefront to be successful and show her merchandise to customers," he said. "So we began to work on her business plan and that included solidifying her thoughts and ideas and getting it on paper."
Jeter said that both the SBDC and the federal Small Business Administration offer templates for helping entrepreneurs attempting to develop a business plan which he said Childers made use of.
"The SBDC and the SBA each offer a template for writing a business plan," Jeter said. "They can be used to systematically write a business plan. We offer support in getting the idea on paper, even to the point of doing some typing and quite a bit of editing. Brandy actually wrote most of her business plan using the SBA template."
Jeter said that as the process moved forward, he had a member of the SBDC's staff come down from Rock Hill to help with Childers' financial projections for her business.
"In November, we had a member of the staff in Rock Hill come here and work on her financial projections," Jeter said. "He sat down with Brandy and me and went through her projections, not only for the ladies' and children's clothes, but for the men's clothes as well. Right now she's not selling men's clothing but he did that based on the information she provided him."
(While she does not currently sell men's clothing at her boutique, Childers is in the process of getting read to begin carrying them.)
Jeter expressed confidence in Childers and the future of Southern Pearls and Charm.
"You can't predict the future, but based on her drive, she has an 85 percent chance of succeeding," Jeter said.
Southern Pearls and Charm is open Tuesday-Friday from 11 a.m.-6:15 p.m. and Saturday from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. For more information about Southern Pearls and Charm call 864-441-1897.