It’s Small Business Week! So we’re featuring some of the small businesses that are taking big steps!
Who: Jazmyn White
What: The Nesis Brand Group
Where: New York City
Why did you start The Nesis Brand Group?
“I started out freelancing by assisting apparel startups. I needed income while I was pitching venture capital firms for a mobile app I was hoping would launch. From there Nesis Brand Group organically became Nesis Brand Group. I never really set out to start it. I just liked what I was doing and grew upon that, and the company grew—and continues to grow—beyond what I honestly planned for it to be. I’m currently watching Girl Boss on Netflix. It’s based on Sophia Amoruso’s (founder of Nasty Gal) story, and her story is very true to my own start. Sometimes in life, you cannot plan your passion or your purpose, you will just live your passion or purpose naturally if that’s your heart’s desire to do so. It all just comes to you, but you have to be wise enough to recognize it when it comes, and do something with it once you have recognized it.”
How did you originally finance your business?
I’ve learned that business finances businesses. Meaning if you have a great idea and you’re able to launch a minimum viable product with no overhead, your customers will buy in and allow you to build traction that your company can scale up without a lot of upfront capital. That was our case, I started freelancing assisting startup apparel brands from home and then it just grew and grew to what we are today which is a full-service manufacturer, apparel design, and apparel sales company. I use to think you needed an investor and spent years pitching seed investors for an app I created before I launched Nesis. Now to this day, Nesis is self-funded because of that app pitching experience I learned that having a service that fixes a problem creates the traction you need to grow your company and scale it up financially.
How important do you think it is to understand money/finances as a business owner?
Very. You have to have an interest in it at least and apply yourself to learning more about it if it doesn’t come naturally or you didn’t go to school for it. Everything for me is a mathematical formula even fashion design. If you’re not interested it befriend people who are. I have friends who work for McKinsey and Chase Bank who lent me their perspective over coffee and trust me they are way better at it than me. Being around them increased my understanding of finance. If you’re not into finance surrounding yourself with people who find it fun and will talk about it with you for hours if that’s not your friend circle maybe study it online to gain more knowledge. You can self-teach yourself a lot if you’re self-teachable in this area. You know if you are or not if you do not retain someone as soon as you can.
What do you wish you’d known about money/finances before starting a business?
Take your time. Little by little. Spend your funds on things when you really need it not when you think you need it. I know that sounds confusing but you need to test your needs before you just throwing money at it. You could be throwing money away.
Do you think too many people let money get in the way of starting a small business?
YES! But here why; if there is no demand for what you are selling by which I’m not speaking of market demand but direct demand meaning people are directly coming to you personally and asking for what you have or could have or could make for them to buy, you maybe shouldn’t launch so soon. People try to launch with no demand and the amount of capital it would take them create demand, pay for production, overhead, etc. is very scary and that amount of money would get in any person’s way who is starting a small business without an investor or backing. If there is a demand there is money so therefore money is not getting in your way. Look at the Kardashian-Jenner clan. Kylie launched her lippie lipstick kits 2 years after priming her audience for cosmetics sales. Not only did she wait but her team did not buy a large amount of inventory when she launched. It sold out in minutes. If a multi-millionaire who could have launched quickly as well as invested a large amount of capital into her startup took her time and created a demand first and tested the market with a small batch of inventory then I think the rest of us could do the same. Personal feelings aside for celebrities, they often do scale their startups up the right way when everyday small business owners should as well.
What business expense have you most underestimated?
Hiring the wrong people. I never thought about until I was in that situation. Hiring too quickly can drain your capital. As a small business owner, you have to take your time with this no matter how busy or in need you may get. It could cost you triple what it would have if you would have waited for the right fits for your company.
How do you cover upfront productions costs without killing your cash flow?
This doesn’t affect us directly because we are a production company but it does affect our clients. We have found great financial institutions that will lend brands capital to fulfill a purchase order. If a brand has a purchase order from another company (retailers) they will lend capital to you to assist in the production cost the brand will occur. This is very important because new to market brands do not get paid until the order ships and for new to market brands it’s impossible to pay for the production of a very large order without financial assistance.
Is there anything about finance (or a financial concept) that still totally freaks you out (or you just can’t seem to get the hang of)?
I personally just have to remember to budget and stick with it. Yes, I’m still getting the hang of it because our budget and needs are continually evolving
What about your business finances/money keeps you up at night?
I’m always thinking about how we can make things better for our clients. I think about our client’s brands all the time. If we are able to make things better for our clients then that will increase our cash flow. Their success is our financial gain so thinking about them and how I can get up the next morning and in some way make their brand better sometimes keeps me up at night.
Do you have any financial wisdom you’d like to share with other aspiring entrepreneurs?
Your financial numbers will change and your plan will change, move with the change so you can grow. Allow your business to move with its customers and find new ways to decrease your cost while meeting the needs of your target customer.
Is there a book you’ve read that has helped you better understand money/ finances?
The Bible. Luke 6:38 “Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full- pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back”. It’s so true. Your gift and talents will make way for financial gain as well as what you put into your business you will see it come back to you.
What business person/ entrepreneur would you most like to have lunch with?
Diane Von Furstenberg for lunch, Richard Branson for breakfast and Gary Vaynerchuk for dinner :)
Looking to Finance Upfront Production Costs?
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