For Jamai, art has been his passion for as long as he can remember. Through silk-screening, he has found a way to pursue his passion and create his very own business: Animal Instincts Apparel.
Three years ago, while wearing a shirt he had created, Jamai caught the attention of a successful retail business owner. He asked to buy some of his shirts and, impressed by his work ethic, went on to offer Jamai an internship. Within a year, Jamai decided to take what he had learned, both about design and managing a small retail business, and start his own company. “The most challenging part of opening the business was to sit down and decide to actually do it,” Jamai explained.
To make sure his business would be a success, Jamai explored each San Francisco neighborhood to discover what sold best. His hard work paid off, and Animal Instincts Apparel is now featured in 15 boutiques across the city, at local crafts markets, and online through his website and Etsy. His unique t-shirts feature his own designs and are available in toddler, children, and adult sizes.
Buzz is building around Jamai’s clothing line. He needed a small business loan to meet demand and begin offering more designs, colors, and styles. But, as a young entrepreneur, he was turned away from banks due to his limited credit history.
An Internet search brought Jamai to Opportunity Fund, a local micro lender, and he realized that a micro-loan was “much more manageable” for his business than the larger loans traditionally offered by banks. “Opportunity Fund discussed my budget and finances with me and made sure a loan was the right choice.” A $5,000 loan will provide Jamai the capital he needs to incorporate hoodies and sweatshirts into his line, build up his inventory, and take Animal Instincts Apparel to the next level.
As his business grows, Jamai hopes to open his own silk screening facility and eventually expand production to other cities. Starting in 2012, he also plans to launch a donation program that will send a percentage of the proceeds from Animal Instincts Apparel to wildlife organizations.
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