Launching a protective glove line? A business card might come in handy
Founder Kim Motola's good credit allowed her to offset a hefty investment during the test phase
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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It’s lovely to keep your hands looking fabulous with a long-lasting gel manicure, but the ultraviolet/LED lights that bake the polish onto your nails can be harmful to exposed skin. Kim Motola took the problem into her own well-manicured hands and created ManiGlovz – a protective (and super stylish) fabric for people to wear when they get the service.
“I saw a need,” says Motola. “As a fan of gel manicures, I could feel the heat and I knew it could be bad. I met with top dermatologists and found out the rays can cause skin cancer and premature aging. I didn’t want to give up the manicures, so I created ManiGlovz.”
Motola began designing, checking out fabrics and searching for a factory to produce the gloves. When she hit all the right marks, she launched the product online. That was in April 2018 and in less than a year, the company is thriving.
ManiGlovz sells direct-to-consumer as well as in spas, salons, dermatology offices and boutiques. Orders from Canada, Israel and Australia are streaming in and the market is opening up to other applications. Women are wearing the gloves for driving, gardening and simply hanging out in the sun.
As for credit cards, they came in handy after this startup started out.
See related: Small Business Profile: Laughing Glass Cocktails
At what point did you bring credit cards in, and did you make any mistakes?
I had the funds to finance the beginning of the business, so I didn’t have to borrow any money for the launch. That was a relief because I didn’t begin with debt. I have a good credit score, so I also have good cards. I use them to pay for my operating costs.
I’m not a numbers person, but seeing where everything is coming in and going out with the accounts really helps me. I’ve never really made mistakes with charging too much because I monitor the accounts and keep myself in check. I look at them online every day during the week – it’s the best way. When you’re a small business, every dollar counts, so you have to keep track.
How are credit cards helping you and your business become successful?
Even though I used my own money to start out, I was hit with some surprise costs later on, so credit helped. A lot of issues we encountered were legal matters, like trademarks. There were also multiple prototypes for the design. I didn’t realize there would be so much waste trying to get it perfect. It took at least $5,000 worth of mistakes to get it right! It hurt to see so much product that was un-sellable, but that’s the life of a startup.
I have two credit cards. The first one is The Platinum Card® from American Express, and that’s my personal account. I also have the Bank of America U.S. Trust Private Wealth Management Visa.
Tip: Unsure if your company needs a business credit card? The benefits of a business card can be alluring, but not every company or entrepreneur needs one. Learn three reasons to get a business card, and three reasons you shouldn't.
I also have a great relationship with my credit cards and bank, which is so important. For example, I have a representative at Bank of America who helped me out a lot recently.
I had an issue with a man who prospected me. He said he wanted a bunch of gloves, but was based out of Belize. It was going to be huge order, so I was really excited. It was strange, though. He asked me to send $10,000 worth of product, but wanted me to contact their shipping company to send the gloves, and it all became so complicated.
I called my banker and asked him if he thought it was OK. I’m so glad I did because it turned out to be a scam. A good banker will go above and beyond for you as a business owner. They may know what you don’t.
What kind of things do you typically charge?
I go to a lot of trade shows – all of them if I can – and that’s expensive, so it goes on the cards. I also buy fabrics, packaging and promotional items. I charge all of my business’s expenses and it adds up fast. The bills average about $5,000 a month, but I make a point of paying the debt off in full. I use QuickBooks, but I’m always online, checking out my payment history. You have to do that because it helps to keep you from overdoing it.
What I love about credit cards is that they give me freedom. I can extend myself for a month and that buys me time when I don’t have the money in my pocket.
What have you learned along the way that you can share with other entrepreneurs?
You have to be really careful with mistakes. I once recognized a charge that wasn’t mine and it was easy to dispute because I caught it so fast.
The biggest takeaway, for me, is to not take on too many expenses. Everyone wants to sell you something when you’re in business. Spending is easy, but you have to learn to say no to some people. I have to be sure I’m not charging more than I have when the bill comes so I can pay it off every month without any problems. That’s the most important thing to me. I pick and choose where I charge because it’s so easy to spend money. So that’s my advice for others, too.
Oh, and form a relationship with the credit card company and banks you’ll be dealing with. They can help you!