A Leg Up

This summer, and, hopefully,  for more to come, I’m photographing and interviewing local businesses and business owners for my students. I’d liked to focus on businesses that are at least 5 years old, and are female or minority owned, since my students fall into those categories. I hope to give my young entrepreneurs an idea of what is takes to start and run a successful business. Hence the name of this series - A Leg Up. I hope you enjoy!

 

#1 - Elvis Presley Coin Op Laundry

1432 Elvis Presley Blvd, Memphis, TN 38106

(901) 942-3073

1. Did someone own the business before you? If so, who and do you know why they chose to sell?

Yes, my cousin owned it for 33 years. [Her cousin is the women in the picture Mrs. Jackosn is holding in the images below.] She retired in 2017 and passed the business on to me, her cousin. She'd been doing it so long, she was just tired and ready to go home and relax.

2. How important is the location of your business? Why?

For me this location is very important because I was raised in South Memphis.  I’ve always wanted to give back to something like this and I see a lot of things I can do in this area. When I came here, I told my husband I didn't just want to be laundromat lady, I wanted to be someone who can bring something positive to community. I wanted to help some of the ladies that walk up and down the street, talk to children, pray with them. Just get in there and be a part of them and show them something positive, even tell them my testimony - tell them my story and how I came up.

3. Has this business always been a dream of yours? Explain, please.

Not so much as a laundromat business. I never had a clue that I would be in the laundromat business.  When I was working for the University of Memphis, I was a lead custodian, and I always paid close attention to my laundry rooms. So when this came before me as it did,  I knew it was something God was bringing into fruition, and I know that I’m appointed to be here.

4. Did you have to get a loan? If so, was a complicated? Or If not, why not?

No and yes. The businesses was already up and running and my cousin already had a clientele when I got here, so that was good. She didn’t take out a loan, not that I know of. My cousin (the original owner) has always been a business lady - she just saved. She knew how to save. Her and her family would to get together and do certain things. You know, the other part the family would get together, the ones that had the ability, and they would buy houses,  remodel them, sell them and save the money from that. As far as I know, she’s always been that type of business lady. She’s very careful with how she spends her money. She makes its count. She also teaches us how to make it count. When I came into the business, I didn't know anything about being a businessperson, but she took time out and talked to me, walked me through things and told me, “Barbara you have to do it like this. I’ve been successful here and you can be successful, but you’ve got to do it like this, thus and so.”

5. Is good credit necessary to be a successful entrepreneur? Explain, please.

You can always work toward straightening out your credit. You can always work toward straightening anything out in your life that you've probably messed up yourself. Because we cannot blame other people.  Anything that is damaged or torn can be fixed, and credit is one of them. Having good credit is not necessary to start a business, not to me it's not. But I got a break, I have to say that. I think if  you’re trying to do what’s right and trying to go in the right direction  then some things will happen for you. And if you don’t have good credit…well...I really don’t know how to answer that. Even... the guys [with] .... felonies, I tell them to take a step [in the right direction]. Because if you don’t take a step you don’t know what’s going to happen.  If you hide behind the fact you have a felony charge, then don’t go back and get another felony charge. Stop right where you are and pick up and start moving forward. Some doors will open for you.

 
 

Never Settle for Just a Part of Any Story!

Click the Link(s) Below to Read the Full Transcript and/or Listen to the Full Interview.

 

#2 - Cole's Screen Printing

3541 Riverdale Rd #101, Memphis, TN 38115

(901) 207-1362

1. Did someone own the business before you?

Yes, my dad actually had a screen printing company. That’s how I got  started. And like I said I went out on my own in January of 2013.

2. How important is the location of your business? Why?

Location is very important. It’s important because we noticed a big  difference when I opened in January of 2013. I was around the corner on  Winchester Rd. We moved to the Riverdale location 2 years ago and we  almost immediately noticed a difference in walk in traffic and  visibility because we are by the 385 expressway. It’s amazing, and  Winchester Rd is walking distance from where we’re located now, but it’s  amazing being on a street that leads to 385 expressway, what that does  for business.

3. Has this business always been a dream of yours? Explain, please.

No, I wanted to be a doctor. I have a Biology degree. And I taught  school for about 7 years, after I graduated. However, business has  always been important to me. My great granddad had a corner store; I  grew up watching business since the time I can remember. But, like I  said, I was going to be a doctor.

4. Is it necessary to go to college to run your type of business? Why or why not?

It’s not necessary, but it does help. And I say that because: At the  time I didn’t really realize, even just being a teacher or being an  educator, I didn’t realize how that [going to college] would impact my  business. If you’re serving schools, and you’re dealing with principals,  and educators every day, it helps when you can speak their language.  College gives you the ability to move within [these] circles. One  conversation piece that people have is: ” Where did you go to school?”,   and that’s very important for people who went to school. It’s  connection and that’s what you’re ultimately looking for. There’s  nothing wrong with not going to college. But college does give you some  intangibles other than just the academic piece. It gives you some  intangibles and gives you connections to a lot of the decision makers  that you will probably be dealing with if you own a business.

5. Should they focus on what they love to do or what services are needed? Explain, please.

Both. If you’re in Memphis and you love to ski, or you love marine  biology, whatever the case may be, there’s no market for that. You have  to balance what you love to do and where you are, if there is a market  for what you love to do, you want to look at that. Think about things  that you like to do. Think about things that you naturally like to do.  If you naturally like talking to people, or if you naturally like doing  photos, or whatever it is that you just naturally gravitate towards,  then look at things that allow you to be able to do that. And then you  won’t consider it work. So, that’s kind of what you want to do. And  then, after you figure that out, you figure out ways to make money at  it. How to market that and what’s the need for it. You may have to twist  [what you love to do]a little bit. For example, I like talking to  people. It doesn’t matter if I’m talking to them about tee shirts, or  something else. I enjoy talking to people. So it would be hard for me to  do a job where I’d just sat behind a desk all day, without any  interaction with people. Pick something that allows you to do what you  naturally like to do.

 
 

Never Settle for Just a Part of Any Story!

Click the Link(s) Below to Read the Full Transcript and/or Listen to the Full Interview.