Erica Sandberg is a prominent personal finance authority and author of “Expecting Money: The Essential Financial Plan for New and Growing Families.” She writes “Small Business Credit Profiles,” a weekly column featuring small business owners’ journey with credit and credit cards for CreditCards.com.
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As the creator of all-natural beauty and skincare line, Beauty Kitchen, helping people look and feel spectacular is Heather Marianna’s passion. Her business began as a YouTube series where she showcased simple, do-it-yourself beauty recipes that could be whipped up with common kitchen household ingredients.
“I’ve always been interested in holistic beauty and knowing what I was putting on my body,” says Marianna. “Apparently, I wasn’t alone. Within just a few short months, my channel’s popularity skyrocketed, with many of my videos surpassing over 3 million views.”
In response, she developed chemical and cruelty-free bath and skincare products such as red-wine lip masks, chocolate sugar scrubs and green-tea collagen eye gel pads. Celebrity fans of the brand include Christina Milian, Vanessa Simmons, Dascha Polanco and Viola Davis. Beauty Kitchen has been featured in US Weekly, E! Online, Star Magazine, Forbes and OK! Magazine.
Online sales have done so well that, in November 2018, Marianna opened her premier retail store in Boulder City, Nevada. The red-carpet opening was hosted by The Real Housewives of Orange County stars Emily Simpson and Gina Kirschenheiter.
To take Beauty Kitchen to the next level, Marianna incorporates a credit card into her winning formula.
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How did your money management style and credit history affect the way you financed your venture?
I started slow and saved my money. I did this so I could pay for what I needed for the business as I went along and not get into debt by borrowing too much. I have really good credit, and that has allowed me access to some of the best credit cards on the market. When I used my cards during the initial financing stage, it was often just a way for me to stay organized and track certain similar business expenses all on one card. Then I turned around and paid the bills off in full every month.
Have you always handled credit products so well?
I didn’t make any credit mistakes when I used the card for my business, but I did when I was younger! In college it was pretty easy to get my hands on several credit cards and it didn’t take long at all for me to get \u2018swipe happy’ and fall into debt. I had several big purchases to pay off as I got older, though, and that experience actually helped mold me into a responsible card user. It made me educate myself on credit use and available card options for the future. I didn’t want to be in a similar situation ever again, and I haven’t been.
Tip: The new year is the perfect time to review your business’s finances – and your credit card game is a good place to start. Take a look at Business credit card tips for beating the January blues to set a positive tone for the rest of the year.
There are many excellent business credit cards on the market, so which did you choose and why?
I went with The Business Platinum® Card from American Express, I love the benefits this card provides, which includes 5 times the points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com. That is incredible for someone like me, who is always traveling. I trade the rewards points in for flight credits. I book about two national television segments a month where I showcase do-it-yourself clean skincare recipes and Beauty Kitchen products. The points I accumulate on the American Express card have really helped keep my traveling cost to a minimum.
Outside of the rewards points, I really love American Express for the protection the company offers their customers. When I swipe my card, I know it will protect me from anything that could potentially go wrong from a third-party vendor. I take a lot of pride in knowing that.
My credit card helps me maintain a bit of cash flow, too. As a business owner, sometimes you have big bills to cover and it can be hard to come up with a large amount of money suddenly. Having a credit card gives me flexibility and security when I need it.
I use my card religiously for purchasing things I need in bulk, like product ingredients, packaging, and for other business-related expenses for my retail location such as furniture, decorations and shipping costs. I have a super-high limit and I really don’t have a set baseline where I try to keep my spending, since I’m using it all for mandatory costs.
Can you share any lessons you learned about borrowing money and offer advice to other up-and-coming entrepreneurs?
Good credit is like gold in the business world. I have not had any loans, but I know one day I will – once we really start to expand. It’s important to me to maintain a high credit score so I can qualify for the best rates. To do it, I pay my credit card off in full every month. However, the American Express app makes it easy to pay along the way and transfer funds in real time that sometimes my balance is paid off before I even get the bill. Doing that not only helps my credit rating but obviously there is no interest added to what I’ve charged.
As a small-business owner, you have to use your credit cards wisely. If you do, they will be a super useful tool!