Thursday, August 28, 2014

Our Interview With Patricia Davis: Consumers Against Toxic Apparel (CATA)

Our client Patricia Davis just visited. She has been getting a lot of attention both in the U.S. and overseas with her organic clothing organization known as CATA. We think you will find this interview interesting...

What is CATA?

CATA is the acronym for Consumers Against Toxic Apparel.  Our mission is to increase awareness and educate consumers about the health risks of wearing toxic and chemically produced clothes.  CATA offers conscious consumers exclusive access to organic apparel companies nationwide.    We provide exclusive discounts on unlimited purchases from unique vendors.  We are the perfect go to resource for anyone seeking clean, safe, organic and natural clothing.  Our website and blog are constantly updated to keep you informed on the latest developments and dangerous practices in the textile industry. 
Why is wearing organic apparel so important?

The textile industry is producing garments today using an enormous amount of dangerous chemicals contributing to serious health issues and chronic illnesses.  In addition, to the many chemicals used in growing natural fibers, synthetic fabrics are produced from toxic chemical compounds not found in nature.  Currently, synthetic fibers make up over 82% of mass produced clothes.This overload of toxins are not only endangering humans but our environment. Clothing from around the world has been researched and the chemicals in them have been linked to cancer, leukemia, brain damage and infertility.  Wearing organic apparel decreases the amount of chemicals on your body by 80%.  Organic farming does not use any pesticides, herbicides or synthetic fertilizers to grow the cotton crops.  There are zero persistent chemicals to make you sick, especially during manufacturing.  It's been reported that organic farming can reverse climate change a serious issue affecting our environment.  Wearing organic apparel shifts dollars to companies producing clean clothes who protect our health while sustaining the environment.
                                             Dress by Earth Creations

What's the number one myth about organic apparel?

Most consumers believe organic apparel is boring, ugly and plain.  It's just not true!  Organic apparel is stylish and attractive.  It's available in gorgeous colors, different patterns, interesting textures and many styles.  Organic clothes feel good on your skin and are easy to care for.  Just visit our site to see for yourself at:

Who are the companies involved?
Many of the companies involved are not as easy to find as big name brand companies, yet the products they provide are hidden gems and their missions are integrity based.  Some produce their products from start to finish in the USA.  Many employ innovative manufacturing techniques and put doing business with a conscious over profits. The companies include SOS from Texas, Fox Fibre, Sassis Organics, Indigenous, Fed by Threads, Earth Creations, Synergy, Imagine Green Wear, Xylem, Fiercely Green, Vital Hemp, Silver Needle & Thread and more. 
                                                  Dress by Imagine Green Wear

How can someone get involved?

CATA is a membership based campaign.  Consumers should visit our website, subscribe and take the CATA pledge to support organic fashion.  When you become a member you will receive your special ID member card that allows you to shop over fifteen CATA Associated Companies saving 10%-15% on all your purchases for one full year.  Our partner companies offer affordable, safe and sustainable clothing for the entire family.
For more information, contact Patricia Davis at 904-998-9978 or

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Cost of Growth

Business owners are often confronted with the opportunity and/or desire to expand and grow their businesses.  It might be as simple as hiring a new employee, or as complicated as adding a second location.  We see establishments in town investing in new buildings and fa├žade upgrades.  Correctly calculating the cost of growth is the most important part of any business expansion.  A simple break-even analysis will reveal to the business owner the concrete cost of his latest idea. Consider this example:

Bob wants to increase his hours of operation to evenings and Saturdays.  To do this, he will need to add a part time worker and this will increase his payroll and expenses by $15,000 a year.  The increased revenue Bob will need to cover this new employee is the difference between his break-even point before and after the hire. 

To figure the break-even point, he must first calculate his variable cost percentage.  Variable costs are expenses that are only incurred if a sale is made.  The variable cost percentage is a percentage of total sales.  Bob had $620,000 in total sales and spent $496,000 on variable costs.  His variable cost percentage is 80%.  The 20% that is left over is known as the contribution margin.  The contribution margin covers fixed costs (expenses that occur whether a sale is made or not) and profit.  The break even sales number is found by dividing the total fixed costs by the contribution margin.  Bob’s fixed costs before the new hire were $109,200.  His break-even sales before the new hire were $546,000.

To figure Bob’s break-even sales after the new hire, he needs to add the new fixed expense of the new hire into his fixed costs and re-calculate.  His new break-even sales point will be $621,000. 

Bob now understands that he will have to increase sales by $75,000 to pay for a $15,000 increase in expenses.  This simple calculation will help Bob monitor his sales in the coming months to decide if the evening and weekend hours are going to be able to support the new hire.

This calculation can be applied to a building expansion or a new piece of equipment.  In most cases you can add the loan payment for the expansion to your fixed costs and re-calculate.  If you are paying cash for the new project, add your required rate of return to the fixed costs and re-calculate.  You may need to do some extra calculations when adding a new machine or product line as your variable costs may change as well.

This same calculation can be used if a business owner is contemplating a price change.  For example; Bev had a candy shop and wanted to drop all of her prices by 10% to compete with the new shop down the street.  Her total sales were $100,000 and her variable costs were $60,000 giving her a contribution margin of 40%.  Her fixed costs were $20,000, making her break-even sales $50,000.  If she drops her prices by 10%, her new contribution margin will be 33% making her new break-even sales amount $60,000.  Bev had to increase her sales by $10,000 (20%) to cover the discount.  Only time will tell if the lower prices will produce the higher volume sales needed ($120,000) to earn the same profit.

Your SBDC Consultant can help you evaluate your break-even point and develop growth plans for your business. 

Mark Yarick joined the Small Business Development Center in January 2014 to provide service to small businesses located in Suwannee, Hamilton and Columbia counties. His professional experience includes work in the automotive field with hands on management and production supervision as well as warranty and customer service. He has been a small business owner since 2002 and will spearhead the SBDC efforts in Agribusiness.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Mindy Barker to present Financial Literacy and Planning at Sept.19 Nonprofit Conference at UNF

Many nonprofits struggle with the financial piece of the nonprofit puzzle.  But, it is so important to the success of the nonprofit. To learn more about solve this part of the puzzle, join the SBDC at UNF for the 4th Annual Nonprofit Conference on Sept. 19 at the UNF Herbert University Center.  The following is information about one breakout session during the conference:

What is in your current financial toolbox? Financial management requires a number of tools and is unique for each organization.  Financial management of not-for profits is similar to that of for profit organizations.  But in the nonprofit sector, there is sometimes a tendency to move forward to address the mission of the nonprofit and a belief that financial support will follow. This philosophy can lead to frustration, being in the red and the worst case is closing the doors of the organization.  It is important leaders address the financial needs and make sure enablers are in place to apply financial discipline to the infrastructure. This presentation addresses: long term sustainability, general ledger structure, cash flow and ethics & compliance.

About the Speaker:
Mindy Barker is the CEO of Mindy Barker & Associates. In this role, she works with not for profits and business owners to empower them with tools and financial information to improve company value, profitability and cash flow. Prior to founding Mindy Barker & Associates, Mindy was the chief financial officer for OptaComp, a workers compensation company and subsidiary of Florida Blue. She also served as controller of Kemper Services Group and was principal and chief financial officer of Chartwell Capital, a private equity firm. Mindy’s diverse background also includes management positions in the industries of property and casualty insurance, distribution and manufacturing and consulting. Mindy began her career in public accounting with Price Waterhouse Coopers and Ernst and Young.  Mindy holds a Bachelors of Arts degree in Accounting from Converse College and is a certified public accountant in Florida and North Carolina. She is a member of the American Institute of CPAs, the Association of Corporate Growth, Women Business Owners and the Jacksonville Women’s Network. She also serves on the board of directors of the Children’s Home Society.

Event Details:When: 9/19/2014 - 8:00 am to 1:30 pm 
Where: UNF Herbert University Center at 12000 Alumni Drive - Jacksonville, 32224 
Fees:$75.....1st person of organization (Through Sept. 12th) $35......per extra person of organization
$ the door / after Sept. 12th

Click here to register.

FSBDC helped this business increase their overall profitability.

“Working with the FSBDC has been a boost in growing the business as a government contractor and in becoming even better at financial management.”

Founded in 2008, Leneer Data Assurance Solutions, Inc. (LDAS) is professional services consulting firm with offices in Jacksonville and Washington, DC.  Adrian Gentry and Robert Lester have established a business with three core operational areas: Medical and IT Staffing, Information Assurance, and Management Training and Consulting.

When Paul Arrington, a consultant at the FSBDC at the University of North Florida, started meeting with the firm had already been making its mark as an SBA 8(a) Business Development Program government contractor. LDAS had already achieved success in obtaining several prime contract and subcontract awards.  

Building upon a twelve-year background in health care IT, Lester had developed a strong core team of professionals well qualified in financial IT, sales, management, marketing and business development.
Arrington consulted with the firm as it sought to expand its ability to serve the federal market by seeking HUBZone certification, suggesting next steps through the HUBZone certification process. Arrington also was present as the firm presented its capabilities during a briefing before a federal agency and was able to assist the firm by providing feedback regarding that briefing. The firm also benefited from a financial review and analysis performed by Arrington, which helped in identifying ways to increase the overall profitability.

Leneer Data Assurance Solutions, Inc. is now both 8(a) and HUBZone certified, is a GSA IT Schedule 70 contractor.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Be a part of NE Florida’s most comprehensive event for nonprofits!

The UNF Nonprofit Management Conference is specially designed to provide nonprofit professionals an opportunity to learn about their industry through interactive learning experiences. Exchange ideas and strengthen your organizations by networking with peers in the local non-profit community. This year, over 120 nonprofit professionals are expected to attend.

A highlight of the event will be the keynote presentation from Tony Allegretti, the new Executive Director of the Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville. Breakout sessions include:

• Fundraising: Making the Ask
• Board Roles & Responsibilities: A Case Study
• Your Financial Toolkit
• Strategic Decision Making for Sustainable Nonprofits
• What Nonprofits Need to Know About Brand Building
• Volunteer Trends

Event Details:
When: 9/19/2014 - 8:00 am to 1:30 pm
Where: UNF Herbert University Center
12000 Alumni Drive - Jacksonville, 32224
Cost: $75.....1st person of organization (Through Sept. 12th)
$35......per extra person of organization
$ the door / after Sept. 12th

To register, click here.

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Get to know our consultants. They are here to help!

Paul Arrington has supported small business development in a number of positions. Joining the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA)  in 1984 as a staff attorney, he ultimately served as District Counsel in the SBA Jacksonville District Office until 2005. While with the SBA, Paul provided advice within the SBA, as well as to the lending community, and to small business owners regarding the SBA’s business loan and government contracting programs. Paul also was a frequent trainer and resource on SBA lending practices, business organizations, franchises and micro-loans.
Paul later joined the Beaver Street Enterprise Center, a small business incubator, where he provided and coordinated the delivery of technical assistance to the resident small businesses. In 2006, Paul accepted a position with the Jacksonville Regional Chamber of Commerce to become its Procurement Technical Assistance Center Manager. In this capacity Paul provided assistance to businesses seeking to do business with governmental agencies.
Finally, Paul began his tenure at the Florida Small Business Development Center at UNF in 2008 as a consultant. Paul is a NASBITE Certified Global Business Professional and often works with FSBDC clients who are interested in government contracting. Paul is a graduate of “Blueprint for Leadership” of Volunteer Jacksonville and has served on the boards of several nonprofits.

Paul holds a Jurist Doctorate from Case Western Reserve University School of Law, where he served as an editor of the Case Western Reserve University Law Review, and a Bachelor of Arts from the City College of New York.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Finding Financing for Your Business: Part II

Last week, my colleague Marge gave a brief overview of traditional sources of capital for small businesses.  To continue the discussion, I have outlined a few more options that our clients don't always consider when starting or expanding their business. But they are often very viable alternatives to choose from.
1) Crowd Funding (non-equity)For those of you who don't know this can be an effective way to raise money. There are several sights on line. and are the main ones.  You set a goal for how much money you want to raise over a period of time. Your family, friends and strangers can then pledge money to your project using credit cards or pay pal. However on many of the sights if you don’t reach your goal the funds are returned to the contributors and the sites do collect a fee for this.
2) Peer-to-Peer Lending 
Also known as person-to-person lending and P2P lending, this is loans made by individuals to another individual without going through traditional financial institutions such as a bank. Often referred to as social lending, the loans are unsecured and interest rates are typically lower than a bank for the type of loan because of lower costs and lenders are competing on interest rates; but higher than would be received if the lender had it in a CD or money management account. Online platforms such as Prosper,, and Lending Club,, charge a fee to facilitate the loan. This is a good option for high risk borrowers with little to no collateral who are seeking a micro-loan of less than $50k. The risk is that you don’t know the lender nor the stability and security of the lending platform you use.

3) Factoring
Also known as accounts receivable financing, is one of the oldest methods of in-house financing. Factoring, simply put, is when a business sells its receivables to a financial institution or "factor". The factor will advance funds on a portion of the receivables, usually 75-80% of their face value. The remaining 20-25% is known as the "reserve" and is initially held by the factor. The amount of the reserve will vary with the quality of the receivables and the historical average of the payers. Historical late payers will increase the amount of the required reserve.
The factor handles the transactions, administers the accounts, conducts credit assessments and handles collections. For these services and the funds advance, the factoring costs to the borrower may exceed 20% of the face value of the receivables. Once the accounts are paid, the borrower receives the difference between the face value and the reserve. The factor usually gets a 2-3% fee.

The benefits of factoring include quick access to cash (usually within 10 days) and the fact that with a growing business, more accounts receivable will be coming in. The drawback is that it’s expensive.

4) Convertible Debt 
Convertible debt instruments are essentially asset-backed loans that can require the business owner to give up some future equity in the business if the lender wishes to convert the debt to an equity position in the company. One of the benefits is that the lender incurs less risk in making this type of loan and therefore is more likely to make the loan even with some risk in the situation. It is also less risky for the lender than a straight equity investment if the lender just wants to be paid back with a return and doesn't want ownership. This may occur if the company's bottom line growth is not performing as anticipated.

The dangers and drawbacks to the borrower are the potential loss of future equity if the company does well. Conversely, the owner may be required to pay back unconverted debt if the company is performing below budget.

In a nutshell, availability and choice of financing will be governed by the unique variables inherent in the needs, capacities and credit history of the borrowing business or individual. These will include timing requirements, asset bases, geographic location, risk tolerances and the ability to pitch the soundness and success potential of the business, among others. If thorough and competent credit market shopping and evaluation is done, you can get the financing you need.  Additionally, you can find further information and assistance on financing at

Michael Chung has been with the SBDC at UNF since 2006 helping businesses improve profitability or potential owners achieve their dream.  Prior to joining the UNF team, Mike owned and operated a shipping company for 13+ years and was with the USAF for 14 years and as a project engineer and contract manager was responsible for multimillion-dollar R&D and SBIR projects. He brings a blended public-private experience to business management, operations, financial management and planning.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Our Client, Roomscapes: Talented and Experienced Interior Redesigners!

We had the pleasure of interviewing long time clients Cindy and Robin of Roomscapes. Many of you may be familiar with them for their frequent appearances on channel 4 WJXT's The Morning Show. They have been doing the show for seven years!

What is Roomscapes purpose?
We are Interior Redesigners. We create a haven that will be not only beautiful but also uniquely your own. We do this by using what you already own. You will have a new environment that will work more efficiently for you as well as be more warm and inviting


Who is your customer?
RoomScapes customers are varied in age and income level. But, we have found that our business niche are customers that have found themselves at a stage in life where things are changing. They may be downsizing, becoming empty nesters, retiring, combining households for remarriage or alone again due to divorce or a loss.

What have been some of your most interesting projects?
A couple who were both starting their second marriage together and they each had a house full of their own furnishings which they were trying to combine into one.  We helped them make those decision without bloodshed! J



What sets you apart from other companies?
The two of us. Most redesigners work alone, we work together combining our creative talents to give our customers the look they desire.  There is also more to us than just Redesign. We do Staging for Resale, Holiday decorating, Paint Consultations,  Permanent Botanicals for your home and even Personal Shopping.

What advice would you give someone who is thinking of going into business?

Robin: Do what you Love! Also, find a mentor.

Cindy: Research and interview your team of web designers, accountants, attorney’s etc.

How can people contact you for a consultation?

See their latest appearance on The Morning Show: