Women, especially women of color, face more obstacles than their white, male counterparts when opening a small business, according to Ana Parra, director of the newly opened Women’s Business Center in Greenville.
For Sullivan, it took nearly three years after signing a lease at U Center, a mixed-use building in downtown Clemson, to upfit her salon and open it. It took months to find a salon manager, hair stylists, nail technicians and estheticians who were capable of working with all types of hair.
Funding was a major obstacle.
“I was turned down by several banks, I was not able to get a traditional SBA (Small Business Association) loan,” she said. She said the lenders wouldn’t “take a chance” on her since they didn’t think her business could be as profitable as her physical therapy job, which earns her up to $120,000 a year.
Without a loan, Sullivan used credit cards to get cash. She dipped into her savings, her retirement fund and her monthly income. She is leasing her Greenville house for rental income. She moved back in with her parents to keep costs low.