Going Solo

Black designers unveil the trials and triumphs of business ownership

$300. To meet the production demands of the 100 stores she services nationwide, Mapp uses a college student assistant who works hourly, several high school interns who work for car fare and lunch money, and deals with several subcontractors, including a cutting house in Chinatown and four freelance sewers. For extra help, Mapp relies on the expertise of friends who often donate their time to assist her in design, production, public relations, and sales and marketing. Still, these resources don’t alleviate all of Mapp’s financial challenges, and that’s why 90% of her sales are cash on delivery (c.o.d.). “The larger department stores wouldn’t entertain c.o.d. sales at all,” she admits. “But I can’t afford to wait anywhere from 30 to 100 days to get my money. I don’t even take a salary for myself because I’m putting money back in the business.”

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