Magazine article Black Enterprise

Survival of the Fittest: B.E. Gives You the Tools You Need to Help Ensure the Success of You Venture

Magazine article Black Enterprise

Survival of the Fittest: B.E. Gives You the Tools You Need to Help Ensure the Success of You Venture

Article excerpt

[ILLUSTRATIONS OMITTED]

THE TERRAIN: HARSH. The challenges: unforgiving. The potential rewards: priceless.

It's a jungle out there for small-business owners. Many trek through the wilds of entrepreneurship to gain their bounty: from the psychic compensation of being your own boss to profiting from one's passion. The spoils oftentimes come at an enormous price. But the courageous emerge stronger and wiser from the journey.

Rochelle Thwaites is one of the newly-minted business owners taking the entrepreneurial expedition. "I wouldn't call it scary, it's exciting to me," she asserts. "I get very excited about it because it is a challenge. I like challenges."

In January, Thwaites launched a line of luxury handbags under her company, Los Angeles-based Mimeki L.L.C (www.mimeki. com). Using $150,000 from real estate investments, the former interior designer literally turned her vision into a reality. "I had a dream about walking into a store and all I saw were handbags on shelves," says the 31-year-old wife and mother of two. "So I immediately woke up my husband. And it all went from there."

Although familiar with the design process, Thwaites was new to the industry. So she needed to do extensive industry and financial research to start. Besides talking to experts and meeting with manufacturers, she traveled to New York City to get hands-on experience-all of which she says were critical steps. "There is tons of information out there, and I'm still learning," says Thwaites. "And I think 10 years down the line, I'll still be learning. Do your research before getting in because there is a lot of money involved. And if you want to do it and want to do it right, then it's a matter of taking the time to research."

This past June, Mimeki was the swag bag for the 2007 Alma Awards. With her bags ranging in price from $200 to $1,000, Thwaites projects revenues of $150,000 for year-end 2007 and anticipates that 2008 will usher in revenues of $200,000 with the help of fashion and trade shows. …

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