It just seemed to kind of fall into place for Grace Madison.
By the age of 24, she had worked retail, been a fashion model, helped place advertising, worked in customer service at APAC, did promotions for a hip hop-rap record label (G-UNIT), earned a Scott Community College degree in business management with a marketing certificate, and scored with SCORE.
So of course it was time to open her own store.
“I wanted to go into retail because I love fashion and like styling people, ” she said.
She’s the owner of Dot Com – Hip Hop & Urban Accessories. It’s at 1432 W. Locust St., Davenport.
She loves it when women and men — and their children — bring in their clothing and she can give them individual accessory advice. She can also make older outfits look “new.”
“Customers say they’re tired of looking like everyone else because everyone buys the same things at the same mall stores,” she said. “Especially in this economy, you can spend a little and jazz it up a lot.”
She became frustrated one day when she went shopping for accessories, but ended up being enticed to buy clothes, leaving little money for accessories.
“So I thought I’d establish a niche where I would take all the big-ticket items out of the equation and create a space to focus everyone’s budget on just the accessories.”
She offers shoes, purses, jewelry, hats, wallets, scarves and belts.
She lauded her college studies in business law and ethics; the proper ways to do business and manage employees, and to professionally interact with customers.
“After learning about ethics, I looked back on several companies I worked for and saw some things I now know weren’t right,” she recalled.
She also learned a great deal from several people in the SCORE program, citing retired executive Dan Lyphout of Davenport, in particular.
“Grace was a good client, she worked hard and smart for many hours to prepare for her career as a shop owner,” he said.
Lyphout is a former accountant and human resources manager at Bendix Corp. in Davenport and the Don Williams Co. in Rock Island. He helped her focus mostly on her cash flow.
“She did lots of study on the market and knew she could get the clientele to bring in the sales and income to offset start-up expenses,” he said. “You have to have a projection of what your sales will be to get a loan or grant.”
With SCORE’s help, she qualified for a $5,000 small business loan to go along with her own money and that of a private investor.
“You have to know the numbers, you have to know your budget and stick to it,” she emphasized. “Everything he taught me will help make the business successful.”
She always considered herself a great employee and learned a lot from both good bosses and not-so-good bosses, so she knew she was prepared to be a great boss. She and her two employees had their first working day on May 4.
SCORE, Counselors to America’s Small Business, is a non-profit organization that provides free and confidential business counseling. To contact the Quad-City SCORE chapter, call 309-797-0082.