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Balance transfers breeding beauty

How a specific credit card strategy helped fund this beautiful endeavor

Summary

Beauty Lounge offers non-surgical procedures along with the newest and latest technical advances in beauty. Here’s how credit cards keep their clientele glowing.

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Shawnda Dorantes

Shawnda Dorantes

As a child, Shawnda Dorantes helped run her family-owned business on weekends, which helped to foster her entrepreneurial spirit. When she was in college studying nursing, Dorantes worked in the beauty industry and sales as a professional makeup artist. After eight years in the nursing profession, she decided to rejoin the beauty industry.

“On the side, I still had my part-time hospital nursing job and was learning injectables and lasers at a local med-spa,” says Dorantes. “My client base exploded and I knew I wanted to expand into that industry. I eventually found a physician to partner with on my new venture. With no [financial aid] or cash savings, I took a huge leap of faith and went for it.”

Dorantes opened Beauty Lounge Medical Spa in October 2018, in San Marcos, California. It began with just three treatment rooms and a few employees, offering permanent makeup, injectables and facials.

“Our full-service menu now includes multiple laser treatment modalities, the hydrafacial, micro-needling with radiofrequency and more,” says Dorantes. “We have outgrown our current space and are constructing a new state-of-the-art location featuring nine treatment rooms, a film studio and a training space. Deciding to venture into this industry prompted me to return to school as well. I recently completed my master’s degree of Family Nurse Practitioner.”

And credit cards? They play a gorgeous and healthy part in her success.

See related: Small Business Profile: Center for Aesthetic Medicine

What was opening Beauty Lounge Medical Spa like?

There was so much I didn’t know when I started. I cringe at how naive I was at the time, but I am so thankful I had the guts to go for it.

The hardest part was not having enough working capital in the beginning. It made purchasing what I needed very challenging. I really had no idea what costs were involved in running an operation of this magnitude. I just kept swiping my credit card to get through one business day to the next. I withdrew funds from my 401(k) to fund the buildout and design of the space.

Additionally, the amount of time I had to invest into my business the first two years was very challenging to my family and social life. I worked part-time night shifts at the hospital my first year in business, full-time at the med-spa, plus administrative duties after hours almost every day. I literally did not have a weekend off for over a year.

Did any startup costs catch you off guard?

Oh my God! I had no idea malpractice and workmen’s compensation insurance was going to be so expensive. Or the privacy tint for the store front windows. Or that marketing and search engine optimization (SEO) would take up so much of my already-stretched-thin budget.

Can you describe how you used credit cards?

My parents gave me my first credit card when I was in high school for a trip abroad to Spain. I quickly found out that one card was the key to having all the store credit cards [I could want].

Like a lot of college students, I found myself racking up more debt than what I was making a month. So, to help get ahead on my bills, my mother taught me about opening a new credit card with a 0% APR promotional offer on balance transfers.

Fast forward into my 30s, I managed to have a very healthy six figure line of revolving credit. I put almost everything on credit except for rent, utilities, insurance installments, etc. I can proudly say now that we do have sufficient working capital. We are in a good position now!

See related: Best balance transfer credit cards

Which credit cards do you have now – and why?

I prefer cards with travel perks such as the Navy Federal Credit Union Go Rewards*, Chase Sapphire Reserve card and the Chase Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card. I can’t tell you the last time I paid out of pocket for a hotel room! It’s always nice to feel like you got something for free or rewarded for the outrageous amount of money that is spent.

When I signed up for the Chase cards, they both had a promotion where you earned 100,000 reward points after a minimum spend in a certain time frame. Those points literally funded the trip to Europe where my husband and I got engaged, along with our honeymoon.

The Navy Federal card is the first credit card I ever had and I have the lowest interest rate and a healthy line of credit with them. Over the years, I have had them all and was mostly going for whoever had the best interest rate on new purchases or balance transfers.

See related: Best business credit cards with a 0% intro APR

How involved are you with money and credit management?

I invested in a good CPA and bookkeeper, but I do check my account balances daily, review purchases and look for fraud. My spa manager and I meet regularly to discuss equipment and supply needs. I am fortunate that she takes the initiative to research pricing and where we can save money.

Is good credit important to you as a business owner?

One hundred percent! I stress this to my teenager all the time. You need credit for everything unless you have an abundance of money. I wouldn’t be where I am today without my strong credit profile.

If an emergency happened and you didn’t have the cash, what would you do? I’ve seen friends over the years who made a good income in some sticky situations due to their poor fiscal decisions in the past. When leveraged properly, credit is a valuable tool.

What’s in store for Beauty Lounge Medical Spa?

We’re currently building out our new location. I’m talking the walls, plumbing, flooring, everything. We are so excited to actually have the funds and resources to contract out this build-out and bring in a design team to help bring our vision to life. I hope to start a new grad RN training program and open an additional location in the next two to three years.

If you could be granted a do-over wish, what would it be?

I have so many! I wish I would have brought in a lawyer and a human resources consultant from the beginning. This would have saved me so much grief with employees and I probably would have been burned less along the way.

As an owner, what have you learned about money and credit cards?

Always look at the interest rate. Ask what happens after the promotional rate expires if you have remaining balance. Make a spreadsheet of every credit card you have with the balance, interest rate, due date and when the promotion expires.

Have a system to keep track of everything. Never miss a payment. At least pay the minimum. Don’t borrow or charge more than you can afford to repay.

And always have a plan B and C – and be prepared to not only invest a lot of money but time into your business!

 

*All information about the Navy Federal Credit Union Go Rewards credit card has been collected independently by CreditCards.com. The issuer did not provide the content, nor is it responsible for its accuracy.

Editorial Disclaimer

The editorial content on this page is based solely on the objective assessment of our writers and is not driven by advertising dollars. It has not been provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products from our partners.

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