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Upscale Retailer Takes the Next Step to Growth

Small Business Development Center hosted by College of the Canyons
Mona Moore • Venice, CA

Lisa Bush, her husband, Scott Vineberg; and their business partner, Anna Variano, owned a successful retail store and Web site selling high-end women’s shoes in Montreal. After relocating to Southern California five years ago, Vineberg and Bush decided to expand to a second location in Venice. As a member of Premier America Credit Union, a sponsoring partner of the SBDC, Bush was eligible to attend SBDC workshops for free. She took the workshop “How to Negotiate With Your Landlord,” then began one-on-one counseling with SBDC Consultant Ben Tenn in June 2009.

Best Advice:
Tenn worked with Bush on securing financing, finding a suitable location and negotiating a lease, and met with her multiple times to review her business plan. She also took a marketing workshop with Tenn. “We focused extensively on planning and implementing both short term and long-term marketing for her new store opening,” says Tenn.

Lessons Learned:
Market day in, day out. “Ben asked me to come in with a marketing plan, which made me really sit down and focus on marketing,” says Bush. “He also said something that really stuck out: ‘Marketing is like doing the dishes; you have to do it every day.’ I hadn’t thought of it in those terms before.”
Cooperate, don’t compete. “Tenn suggested ways Bush could cross-promote the business with other retailers who have a similar clientele. Now, Mona Moore has business cards from relevant retailers displayed in the store, and Mona Moore cards are displayed in their stores.
Knowledge is power. Although she had already launched a business, Bush had always focused on the design and creative aspects of her company. She came to the SBDC to learn more about the business side. “It gives a person a lot more confidence to have that knowledge,” she says. “Going into [location negotiations], I didn’t feel like such a novice.”

Mona Moore’s new location on upscale Abbot Kinney Boulevard opened in September 2009. The store has four employees, and sales have exceeded Bush’s projections. A $150,000 SBA loan application with Wells Fargo is about to be approved; the loan includes another $150,000 for future expansion.

Bush’s short-term goals include refining Mona Moore’s Web site to improve Internet sales. Her long-term plans include expanding to stores in additional cities, such as New York. But wherever the future takes Mona Moore, Bush expects to keep coming back to the SBDC to help her company grow. “Lisa has been dedicated to making her business successful,” says Tenn, “and we’re delighted and proud to be part of that success.”

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