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Success is in Fashion for Maker of Alternative Rock Clothing
WESTVILLE, NJ---Eight year ago Maureen Keough and her brother Jim were designing and making alternative clothing for punk rockers and rockabilly aficionados out of the basement of a hair salon on iconic South Street in Philadelphia.
What started as a part-time business has evolved into a full line of clothing and brand called Too Fast. The Westville-based clothing/design manufacturer is literally busting at the seams. Their wholesaling and online retail operations are growing at a rapid pace.
Maureen likes to say, the Too Fast Brand is where music, punk, rockabilly, tattoos and fashion come together. “I was a college dropout,” said Maureen. “I just picked it up as I went along.”
Maureen and three other designers come up with the ideas for new designs. “To stay up on fashion, you have to live it. Every day, we’re shopping, flipping through fashion magazines, checking out art, listening to music, watching runway shows, and reading our trending service,” said Maureen. “We have to stay ahead of the curve, because we start designing over a year in advance.”
“When we first started, I was waiting tables and Maureen was cutting hair,” said Jim. “That first year we were doing this part time and we managed to do $50,000 in sales. After that first year the business just took off.”
With it came some growing pains. “Our biggest problem was cash flow,” said Jim. “The demand was there for the clothing, but the cash needed to fulfill orders and purchase inventory wasn’t quite there.”
So Maureen and Jim turned to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) for assistance. Lisa Viscusi, Vice President and Senior Business Banker at Susquehanna Bank recommended a couple of SBA loan products to help the business with their growth. First, she advised Maureen and Jim to take out a $250,000 term loan under SBA’s 7(a) Guarantee program to help refinance and consolidate some existing loans. Part of the loan also provided them with some working capital and helped them to purchase some inventory.
In addition, Lisa recommended that Maureen and Jim use a $250,000 line of credit under SBAExpress in order to finance short-term working capital needs, such as inventory purchases or to pay operating expenses while waiting for income to come in from the company’s accounts receivables.
“SBA’s longstanding relationship with Susquehanna Bank enables us to work effectively to put capital in the hands of small business owners like Maureen and Jim Keough who are growing and thriving in the marketplace,” said SBA’s New Jersey District Director Al Titone. “Our loan products are flexible enough to give growing companies like Too Fast the ability to refinance debt and to meet their expenses and variable working capital demands.”
Today, Too Fast has grown to 18 employees with annual sales nearing $4 million. Even their mom Ellen chips in by helping out with the company’s bookkeeping. Three of the employees work in China and secure factory space and production time for Too Fast’s clothing line. In addition to their Too Fast Brand, Maureen and Jim have created the Rat Baby Brand. They also are resellers of name brand and hard to find merchandise. “Our favorite styles stem from punk, tattoo, vintage, and rock and roll roots,” said Maureen. “Our demographic is 17-35 and 80 percent of our customers are women. It’s aggressive designs for customers who aren’t afraid to wear something different.”
The Too Fast Brand includes tees, dresses, tank tops, hoodies, leggings, cardigans, bikinis, socks, heels, boots, purses and wallets. All designed with an edge and attitude.
“We are growing and trying to take the business to the next level,” said Jim. “but we don’t want to forget our roots and we want to continue to focus on giving our customers what they want.”
Currently, the Too Fast and Rat Baby brands the company represents are in 500 stores around the U.S. and in Canada. They work with an additional 300 to 400 stores in Europe, Australia and Japan. Thanks to three sales reps working on domestic and international sales, the Too Fast Brand is growing in popularity.
“We’re taking steps to increase our business,” added Jim. “We’re going to be focusing on international sales and marketing over this next year.”
The Too Fast Brand has 75,000 Facebook Fans, another 20,000 following on Instagram and another 1,900 on Twitter.
“This is a huge growth stage for us right now,” said Jim. “We’re strengthening our infrastructure and are gearing up for the next stage. Eventually, we are going need more space. Our goal is to grow the company by 50 percent each year. We continue to reinvest everything we make back into the company. We know that eventually it is going to pay off.”
It’s a success that’s always in fashion.