When he was released, he had the slogan printed on shirts to share with his friends. The clothing was an immediate hit and for the next two years, Thomas continued selling clothing out of his car.
“I wasn’t taking it seriously. I didn’t have a business license and didn’t have a plan,” Thomas says. Then, in 2017, Thomas’ brother was shot and paralyzed, putting the family in a tough financial spot. “That was the turning point. A friend helped me start an LLC, and I decided to start taking my business more seriously.”
By November of that year, Thomas had identified a storefront for rent in his neighborhood, signed a lease, and held a grand opening in January 2018. The first year the storefront was open, Thomas did $400,000 in revenue. But as he puts it, “I didn’t know what I was doing.”
“I bumped into Van Hampton from True Access Capital, and he came to review the numbers with me,” Thomas said. Van, the President & CEO of True Access Capital, recommended Thomas get involved in True Access’s free business education classes. True Access Capital’s technical assistance courses cover topics like the business planning, marketing, and e-commerce.
Thomas enrolled in True Access Capital’s Business Growth Strategies course in 2019 and the experience dramatically changed the way he manages his business. “Before I would just spend money and have a bunch of overstocked inventory,” he says. “I learned how to manage my inventory and my cashflow, so I don’t have a store full of clothes and no cash.”
The knowledge he gained in the training course also helped Thomas set goals for Carry My Own Weight. His current focus is growing his online store, with everything from marketing to lowering credit card processing fees. Meanwhile, the storefront remains the business’ primary source of revenue, and Thomas plans to purchase his own facility, with a warehouse to store his inventory.
Technical Assistance has always been a very important component of True Access Capital’s lending process. Since the organization’s inception, it has always provided technical assistance for its clients and borrowers. Technical Assistance helps prepare potential borrowers for the application/underwriting process and it helps existing borrowers remain sustainable, once the loan has been made. Additionally, True Access Capital offers specialized technical assistance and business training through the Women’s Business Center at True Access Capital.