When Heather Banks lost her job five years ago, she viewed it not as an ending, but as a starting point to start doing something she loved.
Banks, the owner of Inventive Denim, a pattern design company specializing in recycled denim jeans, created the company when her fulltime position with the school district was eliminated. Due to her love of both sewing and quilting, Banks began to design and sell patterns to sell online. However, Banks soon realized that she needed “something that would stand out,” and decided to focus on designing patterns that made use of recycled jeans.
Although Banks possessed the sewing and design know-how needed to create a fantastic product, she lacked experience in operating a business. According to Banks, she had no idea how to optimize the sales of Inventive Denim.
“I threw money out trying to capture business,” said Banks. “I wasn’t sure where to spend the money I had.”
After realizing she needed guidance with her business, Banks decided to turn to the Nevada Small Business Development Center, located within the Ansari Business Building at the University of Nevada, Reno, for support. With the help of the Nevada SBDC, Banks was able to optimize her cash flows and begin to run her company in the most efficient way possible.
“I’m extremely appreciative to the small business center,” said Banks. “They walked me through the entire process.”
Aside from projecting a budget for Inventive Denim for the next few years, the counselors at the Nevada SBDC also assisted Banks with getting a small business loan. Banks noted that she would definitely recommend the Nevada SBDC as a resource to other potential small business owners, and that other aspects of the Nevada SBDC, such as classes, could prove to be valuable for small business owners as well.
“It would’ve been better if I took some of the classes earlier. It would have drastically decreased the learning curve,” said Banks.
Banks mentioned that the small business loan has helped to propel her business forward, and is partly responsible for recently moving Inventive Denim into a new location.
“We just moved into a larger space because the business has grown so much,” said Banks. “It’s twice as big, and now we’ll be able to accomplish more.”
Banks also mentioned that the feedback for Inventive Denim has been overwhelmingly positive. Apart from online comments from customers saying they’ll keep coming back, Banks has also been asked to speak at multiple quilting guilds.
Moreover, Banks and her colleagues have formed a group of other designers, sewers and quilters in the area that meet a few times a month to discuss what works and what doesn’t in terms of running a business.
“We’re always trying to grow.” said Banks. “The group has really helped motivate us. I definitely think it has helped other entrepreneurs in the area.”
Banks had this piece of advice for any small business owners trying to enter a market.
“It is important to go narrow and to go deep in your niche,” said Banks. “Try to differentiate yourself.”