Owner, KenKash Designs
Launched: July 2008
Former job: Theater scenery designer
Getting my business launched has not been an easy ride. I studied theater design in college and learned how to work with metal. After twelve years at a theater company's set design shop where I honed my skills, I lost my job because the shop shut down. That was in July.
For the past few years, I considered leaving theater and starting my own metal working business, but I liked the idea of having a steady, secure job. Now that that's gone, I figure this is the time to jump on my opportunity. The only issue is that I really need a shop of my own to do the work, with the proper machinery and storage space. That requires capital that I simply don't have.
Since the summer, I've had a few part-time jobs in surrounding theaters, and I also scored a few gigs designing and making window gates and free-form ornaments. But I'm still relying on my friend's space to do the work and the leftover materials from my theater job, which they told me to take when they shuttered the shop.
I figure I'll need about $50,000 to get everything I need. My parents might be willing to help me out a bit, but they lost a lot of money in the stock market, which is pretty scary since they're retired. I have no collateral, so I haven't even bothered with banks. I did some research into grants, but quickly became weary of scams. I've thought about taking money from my 401(k), but that seems drastic. I put my Roth IRA into savings but don't want to use that money for the startup because I find I sometimes have to chip at it just to pay the bills.
But I refuse to give up. My friends ask me why I'd start a business in this economy, but I'm optimistic. I have the knowledge and the talent to do it - I just need to broaden my client base and find a place to do the work.
NEXT: Expanding the business model