Black Women Business Owners: A Growing Force


February 6, 2021

As customers approach the fitting rooms at Designs on a Vine Boutique in Temecula, Calif. they’re greeted by a sign with whimsical lettering: “She believed she could so she did.”

It’s a fitting summary of Rosalind Barmore’s career journey. She started out as a phone-company employee and went to become a corporate retail manager for a major company. With the aid of business coaching and crucial financing, she’s now fulfilling her lifelong dream of owning a clothing store for women.

dress at a southern california boutique“In my yearbook, I said I wanted to be a buyer at the Boston Store,” said Barmore, of the Milwaukee-based retail chain. “I ended up working at a telephone company for 11 years. Then I went back to school for fashion merchandising. It took me more than 20 years to open up a boutique.”

Barmore, a Milwaukee native-turned-Californian, is part of a growing entrepreneurial force with increasing economic clout. Black women-owned business in the U.S. have grown nearly 67 percent to 1.5 million over the last decade, based on Census Bureau data. A recent study showed African American entrepreneurs are creating businesses at a higher rate than Whites and other minorities.

Barmore recently sat down with FE Small Business Finance at her shop to discuss how she transitioned from a retail veteran to boutique owner.

Business coaching sets solid foundation

A 2015 vacation to Temecula’s idyllic wine country turned out to be a game changer for Barmore. Following the getaway of food, wine and music, her husband asked if she could see herself living there.  

At the time, she was the human resources manager at TJX, parent company of T.J. Maxx and Marshalls, in downtown Los Angeles. She had been looking for a city with a slower pace. And her heart was still set running her own women’s clothing boutique. So why not combine both goals?

Barmore quickly leapt into action. She took a series of how-to business courses and started to meet with a mentor to conceptualize the idea for her boutique. This all happened through SCORE and North San Diego SBDC, organizations that offer aspiring entrepreneurs free business counseling and low-cost classes.

Although Barmore holds an MBA degree she acknowledged the business-plan writing course proved to be a great refresher. After careful planning and research, Designs of a Vine Boutique was born. Barmore describes it as a fashion-forward clothing retailer for women 35 and over seeking “casual elegance.”

‘It has been a godsend’

With a solid idea and Temecula as her new residence, all that remained was locking in financing. Her SCORE mentor suggested FE Small Business Finance over traditional lenders since “not a lot of banks are willing to give a loan to a small business,” she said.

After a thorough review, Barmore obtained a $66,000 Community Advantage loan, financing designed for new and existing businesses needing between $20,000 and $250,000 in business capital.

Barmore used the funds for tenant improvements, inventory purchases and working capital to get her boutique up and running.

“For me, it has been a godsend,” she said. “I got the amount of money that I needed and it’s still sustaining me today, a year later.”

The shop has been open for a year and already it’s evolved into more than just a retail location. Women come for the flowy, elegant get-ups and bold statement jewelry. But they stay for the conversation and camaraderie.

“It’s a place where women can come to feel safe,” Barmore said. “They can just sit and have a glass of wine. I’m pretty much just listening. It’s like a ministry.”

FE Small Business Finance offers several loan options for business owners who want to grow their operations and are planning for their long-term needs. Tell our loan experts about your business, and they’ll work to match you with a financing plan that best suits you.

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