April is a returning Accion Texas client who has steadily grown a successful small business built around her passion: sewing and fabrics.
Before launching an entrepreneurial career, she was employed by a major fabric store in her hometown of Austin, Texas. A sewing enthusiast, the 33-year-old said she couldn't sew with the kind of high-end, designer fabrics she desired because they weren't locally available. She could only find the fabrics she wanted when she traveled around the country and abroad. So she took matters into her own hands and started a business that filled a void in the Austin market: offering high-end, quality fabrics from around the world at affordable prices.
"I never really wanted to be an entrepreneur," April said. "I just wanted a store like this to open in town and I knew no one else would do it." She then opened The Fabricker, where she offers inventory from a variety of vendors who purchase their fabric from both famous and lesser-known local designers.
This is not how she originally envisioned her new entrepreneurial career, however.
With the encouragement of a friend who had launched a successful business with an Accion Texas Inc. loan, she applied and was approved for her own Accion loan to create an at-home business where she would sell fabric – while still working full time. Then she got laid off. Combining the Accion loan with her severance package allowed her to follow her dream and open the store.
April was always entrepreneurial, however. Before losing her job, she sold fabric at craft shows and out of her home, gaining a loyal clientele. She always managed to find excellent fabric from around the world because when her husband's job sends him out of the U.S., she sends him with a fabric budget.
She chooses fabric first by its look, then feel. "If it's nice to the touch, if it's something I can see myself wearing, I'll buy it. But if I look at it and the print is nice, but cheaply made, I don't get it," she said.
April recently took out a second Accion loan. It is being used to purchase new inventory and market her business with a new outdoor sign above the entrance to the store and ads in neighborhood newsletters.
Though she currently works alone, April plans to eventually hire employees. "Being my own boss is probably the hardest job ever, and I have kids," April said." There's no one to give you answers. You need a mentor. It can be very lonely and scary, but luckily, many people have reached out to help me," she said.
LiftFund. (www.liftfund.com) is an award-winning nonprofit organization (previously known as Accion Texas) with a mission to provide credit and loans to small and start-up businesses that have limited or no access to credit from commercial sources. Established in 1994 in San Antonio, LiftFund has helped Texas and Louisiana entrepreneurs strengthen their businesses, stabilize and increase their incomes, create employment, and contribute to the economic revitalization of their communities. Learn more at www.liftfund.com.