Kairy-tate Barkley is the owner of French Cuff Boutique, an innovative and highly popular women’s apparel and accessories boutique. Located in accessible neighborhoods with an intimate setting focused on expert wardrobe consultation and a custom selection of designer labels sets her apart from competitors.
Kairy-tate is a native Houstonian who loves fashion and always dreamed of owning her own boutique. She attended the University of Houston and received a dual Bachelor of Business degree in Marketing and Management. While working as a Human Resource professional at a Houston-based Fortune 500 company, she began selling women’s clothing and accessories at home shows in the evenings and weekends, which rekindled her passion for fashion. She realized that she enjoyed this and was good at selling clothes. “This re-ignited my true passion and gave me the confidence to take the next step,” said Kairy-tate.
In 2007, she left her successful HR career to pursue her dream full time. Her research and planning led her to the SBA website where she learned about SCORE, a resource partner of the SBA. SCORE is a group of volunteers, with a wide range of industry experience in building and/or running businesses, who provide free confidential counseling and low-cost seminars and workshops. She attended SCORE’s “How to Start and Run Your Own Small Business” workshop. “This course was great at giving me a better understanding of the important fundamentals of business,” said Kairy-tate. During her mentorship with SCORE, business counselor Richard Stanley identified that Kairy-tate needed practical retail experience and helped her find an internship with a fashion retailer. He also assisted Kaiy-tate with her business plan and marketing and business development strategies.
In July 2008, with the help of SCORE, Kairy-tate braved the difficult financial climate with a second mortgage on her home to finance the first French Cuff Boutique in the Bellaire West University area. Within 19 months she was able to pay off her second mortgage. Buoyed by the success of this first location, Kairy-tate opened a second boutique in the Galleria-Memorial neighborhood in 2011. She began the business with three employees and now employs ten and one intern.
A true community champion, she contributes time and resources to numerous charities, schools, and important social causes, such as Dress for Success, the March of Dimes, Texas Children’s Hospital, American Cancer Society, Houston Area Women’s Centers, and many others. She is a member of the Junior League of Houston and serves on the Board of Directors of the River Oaks Women’s Exchange Club. In addition to a demanding career, she is also balancing the role as wife and new mother.
For more information about the French Cuff Boutique, visit their website at http://www.frenchcuffco.com
Young entrepreneur Masroor Fatany started Sears Garage Solutions of Houston in 2009 at the age of 22. Sears Garage Solutions is a Sears franchise that provides repair and installation services and offers a full line of garage doors, accessories, and entry doors.
Masroor’s exposure to entrepreneurship came at the early age of 10 when he frequently accompanied his father on service calls in his air conditioning business. He later worked in another family business in retail packaging and shipping. While attending college he and his father launched Unlimited Calling, Inc. selling pre-paid Cricket wireless products. They expanded the business and now have 6 locations.
After graduating from Texas A&M with a bachelor’s in accounting and a Master’s in Finance, Masroor worked as an Assurance and Advisory Associate at Ernst and Young. In less than a year, he realized he wanted to be a full time entrepreneur and began his search for a business idea. His search took him to Sears where he was chosen among 30+ applicants. He started the business with the help of a loan from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). Masroor also utilized the services of the University of Houston Small Business Development Center (SBDC), a resource partner of the SBA, that provides assistance to small businesses. Always looking for ways to improve and grow his business, he took advantage of all the services the SBDC offered, including research in their library, training classes, counseling, procurement and technical assistance, and the Professional Services Network of providers.
Upon completion of the Sears franchise training, Masroor hired one technician and committed himself to learn every aspect of the business. He launched an aggressive on-line marketing plan, and implemented an innovative customer service and scheduling system. His business covers 4 territories in Houston with a recent addition in San Antonio, where he turned the struggling location around increasing sales to over 500% in less than a year. Masroor hired an additional 6 technicians to accommodate his rapid growth rate and after his first full year in operation, was recognized by Sears Home Services Garage Solutions as the fastest growing franchise in 2010 and the 4th largest franchise (out of 45 Sears franchises) in the network. He was distinguished as the youngest owner to run the fastest growing franchise across the entire Sears franchise network covering carpet cleaning, garage solutions and home services.
Today, Masroor’s business continues to grow and expand with a new location, a staff of 20 employees, and a new product line. They now offer a vast selection of customizable storm, patio, and front entry doors.
Masroor continues to develop his mentoring skills and keeps active in business organizations. He is a member of the Advisory Board for Sears’ franchises and is a member of the Greater Houston Partnership-Business Leadership Council, Texas State CPAs and Private Equity and Venture Group. He was the 2012 SBA Houston District Young Entrepreneur of the Year.
Sears Garage Solutions of Houston is located at 10122 Long Point Rd, Ste. A, Houston, TX 77043. For more information, visit their website at http://www.searsoverheaddoorhouston.com. For information about SBA and the UH SBDC’s programs and services, visit http://www.sba.gov and http://www.sbdc.uh.edu.
Texas Swim Academy, owned by Bruce and Kathleen McMordie, is an aquatic safety academy located in Katy, Texas. Texas Swim Academy started as a home-based business in 2004 and has expanded to a new 7,800 square foot facility with the help of the SBA and its resource partners.
The business idea came when Kathleen was looking for an infant aquatics survival program for her daughter. Having worked at a hospital as a registered nurse with near drowning patients, Kathleen wanted her children to learn water survival skills. Three of her older children were successful with a similar program when they lived in Austin, but after moving to Houston, finding an instructor in the area who taught this program proved unsuccessful. When she couldn’t find an instructor in town, she expanded her search and found an instructor from Dallas who was willing to travel to the Houston area to give lessons. To make the instructor’s trip to Houston worthwhile, Kathleen invited other children to take lessons.
When Kathleen’s daughter was of kindergarten age, she decided to train and become a certified instructor of the same program. In 2004, she started teaching the infant aquatic survival program at her home pool. The business took off and they eventually outgrew their home pool, limiting the number of lessons they can offer. With a passion to continue providing lifesaving skills to as many young children as possible, Bruce and Kathleen decided it was time to expand.
In 2009, Bruce and Kathleen heard about the Service Corps of Retired Executives’ (SCORE) workshops offered at the Katy Area Chamber of Commerce. They attended several workshops including “Write a Winning Business Plan” and “How to Start a Business.” They also received assistance from the University of Houston Ft. Bend County Small Business Development Center (SBDC) in Katy, Texas. The workshops combined with private counseling through SCORE and the SBDC helped Bruce and Kathleen prepare for the expansion.
With the business plan completed and details of the project ready, they applied for an SBA loan through Member’s Choice Credit Union. In November 2011, they were approved for an SBA 7(a) program loan to help fund the project. Three years of extensive research and planning finally paid off. Their new state of the art swim academy opened in September 2012 and includes a 30x60 ft. pool (four lanes) for group lessons and swim practice and five 12x12 ft. individual pools for private lessons. Texas Swim Academy offers year round indoor infant aquatics survival classes, parent-child classes, stroke development classes, water aerobics, and swim parties.
Bruce and Kathleen are proud to see their dreams come to fruition. They started their home-based business with one employee and now have a staff of 15. “The accomplishment of expanding from a home-based business to being able to employ people is rewarding,” said Bruce. “I enjoy teaching and working with my employees,” adds Kathleen. While Kathleen continues to teach, Bruce manages the business and already plans to expand the business to have an evening swim team and include competition swimming and host swim meets.
For more information about Texas Swim Academy, visit their location at 3514 Greenbusch Rd., Katy, Texas or visit their website at http://www.texasswimacademy.com. For information about SBA’s resource partners, SCORE and SBDC, visit their website at http://www.scorehouston.org and http://www.sbdc.uh.edu.