Client: B. Poy & Jo
SBDC: Small Business Development Center hosted by Pacific Coast Regional Corp.
After turning her passion for fashion into a successful career as a Los Angeles-based jewelry buyer and fashion stylist, Casey Lum still wanted more. With a goal to create a brand and website that would make fashion fun and make customers feel good confident about what to wear, Lum began developing the idea for an online jewelry store that would not only sell to the general public, but also rent jewelry to stylists for use in photo shoots. In late 2012, she visited the Small Business Development Center at Pacific Coast Regional Corp. seeking help obtaining a loan—but quickly found much more.
SBDC Business Advisor Tom McCluskey helped Lum develop a business plan, get a $65,000 line of credit, obtain licenses and permits, and launch her ecommerce business. Business Advisor Sahar Andrade advised her on marketing with social media.
Have a plan.“I had a basic business plan and a lot of ideas,” says Lum. “Tom helped me organize it and figure out the steps to getting it done so it didn’t seem overwhelming. By taking it one step at a time, he made it not feel so intimidating to start a business.”
- Tap into existing connections. “Tom made it very clear that, as a brand new business, it’s difficult to get a loan,” recalls Lum, who discussed various financing options with McCluskey. “However, he also said, ‘You never know; talk to your bank. Because you’ve had a history with them, they may help you out.” Lum ended up getting a line of credit from her personal bank.
- Stay positive. “When you’re trying to open a business, you get lots of negativity from people,” says Lum. “Tom was a very positive light. He really ‘got” my vision right off the bat and was very encouraging. I feel like he’s as excited as I am about my business!”
- Get social. Although social media comes naturally for Lum’s generation, Andrade’s expertise gave her “clarity” in how to use it as a marketing tool. Lum uses Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn (after Andrade showed her how useful it could be). She also plans to launch a blog to help establish herself as a leader in the fashion arena.
B. Poy & Jo (named for Lum’s grandparents) launched in May 2013. Lum, who still has a full-time job, is focusing on the retail side of the business and will expand the rental side as the business grows. In the next 12 months, Lum plans to rent an office, transition to running the business full time, hire her current intern/assistant full time, and expand her product line to include handbags.
With sales of $5,000 in her first three months, she’s on her way, but in order to achieve her goals, she’ll keep working with the SBDC. McCluskey has already referred Lum to a Business Advisor specializing in marketing to help take the company to the next level.
Whatever her goals are, Lum says, “I know I can go to Tom and he’ll lead me in the right direction. I feel like I have a team behind me—a team with a full spectrum of resources.”