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T31 Inspired Handcrafted Activewear

SITUATION
When Elena Carne was growing up in a Venezuelan beach town, girls her age wanted to sport new bathing suits every weekend. Her parents couldn’t afford to buy that many garments, so she decided to make them herself. Soon she received requests from friends and others who loved her bathing suit designs and Elena discovered her passion for entrepreneurship. By the age of 21, she had an established business but the political climate of her country made her leave home and also put her business on hold. It would be 12 more years before she returned to her passion for design.

Today, she’s the owner of T31 Inspired Handcraft Activewear, a small, minority and woman-owned manufacturer based in Americus, Ga. Her brand provides handcrafted leggings, tank tops and other ladies sportswear. “My South American culture is key to our creative process, but our southern roots embrace the more practical side,” she said. “We want to motivate ladies to live an active, positive lifestyle by incorporating vibrant colors with comfort and great quality.”

Once Elena relocated from Miami (where she attended Fashion Design school) to Americus in 2015 and started T31, she needed resources and connections to help get her business going.

 

SOLUTION
Her local chamber first connected her with ACE Women’s Business Center staff, who encouraged her to participate in a large apparel show. She also attended a Women’s Business Center workshop at the SBA Georgia District Office and learned about opportunities to sell her manufactured goods under the label of another brand. Elena said the SBA Small Business Development Center also has been a helpful resource for her counseling needs.

 

IMPACT/OUTCOME
Elena began T31 as a “solopreneur” but has grown to a small team of 3, which she said was key for the company to stay open when the COVID-19 pandemic started. The pandemic influenced her to develop a PPE division to sell fashionable face masks. She also partnered with her local community to donate thousands of face masks, isolation gowns, and head/shoe covers for healthcare providers and other frontline workers in Southwest Georgia.

Elena says SBA resource partners like the Women’s Business Center helped provide her with the essential tools to make her business successful and alerted her to many opportunities. ‘We have periodical meetings that always lead to great solutions and ideas,” she said about SBA resources. “We try to always take the training and courses they offer to keep us up to date with the constant changes in the small business world. I cannot imagine not having the resources they provide small business owners.”