In 1982, my daughter Aimie was 5 years old and went to a very nice a pre-school. I had been a single mom for a few years and was trying to make ends meet, but it was important that Aimie was in a good safe place. Making the payments for pre-school on top of normal bills was hard for me to manage. As luck would have it, I met a man named Bill who was a friend of a friend who owned a wholesale leather goods business. After I got to know him he offered to give me some leather goods on consignment to try and sell. I liked the idea that I didn’t have to purchase inventory to start and could sell the goods on a part-time basis if I could rent a small location. I had never even thought about owning a business of my own. I just assumed I would work for someone the rest of my life.
I had heard about this weekend mart call the I-95 Marketplace. It was in Levittown, Bucks County, which is where I was living at the time, so Aimie and I went to check it out. It would be ideal to open a place just for weekends if I could swing it. I looked the place over and thought it was perfect. There were all kinds of retail and food businesses there and everyone had their own space which fronted on long corridors. They were really booths of different sizes. I rented a very small booth (the smallest one they had), and took some leather jackets, skirts, belts, etc. on consignment from Bill. It amazed me that they leased it to me because I had virtually no money. The best thing about this setup was that I could bring Aimie with me. It was a win win as long as I made sales.
I was really nervous those first few weeks. I was learning about leather but I was not 100% confident in my ability to sell the product and, on top of that, I had rent to pay. I think my first sale came in about the third week. I sold a leather skirt. Thank goodness, some money toward my rent but nothing toward day care. I kept thinking I made a mistake. However, I slowly got into the swing of selling my items. I became more confident in my ability to have a conversation with potential customers about the quality, etc. While the items weren’t cheap there was a market for leather. I did this for about 1 1/2 years making enough money to cover the expenses and keep Aimie in the school. It wasn’t a huge success and I didn’t make a lot of money but I made enough to keep up.
That experience taught me many things but the one major thing was that I now had the confidence that I could own my own business. This opened the door to thinking more broadly at life’s opportunities. Since then, I have built 5 other businesses from the ground up, all while working to improve the community I call home. In recent years, I have even been named to the board of West Chester University, the Chester County Economic Development Council, and the Phoenixville Mayor’s task force to increase public transit access. My past has brought me to my present, and I can’t wait to use what I have learned if elected Chester County Commissioner