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Thanks for your input! We've attempted or utilized many of the ideas you had, and have paid our way thus far without debt. After having both "started over" after the age 40, the financial strength isn't there for a lot of cooperation from traditional banks. The insurance company discourages any activity on the property prior to actually opening the business. One of the best pieces of advice we received from an established businessman in town was to offer shares of the business (it's incorporated) to investors. We're confident that our solution is very close, we just haven't found it yet. Good luck on your business...if you want to market some of your products with us let me know!
One other thing that I wanted to mention is that you might want to sublet some of the space that you have (if you can, or if you have enough room for that). If you do get investors or partners, please make sure that you don't lose control of your business.
I do sell my dresses wholesale to work at home moms or anyone looking to resell them by working from home (or a store. I had s showing today and they will keep my information on file!). I sell the dresses for $12.00 per dress in a set of 20 dresses (total $240.00). If you see what these dresses are going for in malls in boutiques, you would be amazed. I know that it sounds like I am selling the dresse for low prices, but I have made dresses for as little as .50 cents and sold them for $15.00. I am more than making a profit. The price of fabric is creeping up though, and I see the day that I will have to raise my prices. I have seen these dresses selling in boutiques for as much as $50.00. It's unreal. I KNOW that anyone could make some tea and some tea cake and sell some of my dresses at a home party without having invested thousands of dollars in inventory. You can read more about it by going to www.freewebs.com/babylagniappe. Since you are in a college town, I would be glad to sew up a set for you that included school colors. Louisana is a college STATE. Anything purple and gold sells. I have no problem at all selling these dresses. I am so grateful I found out about this style of dress.
Good luck to you. I know that my solution is near at hand and it sounds like you and your husband are resourceful enough to find away. I was also going to suggest trying to get small business grants, but it sounds like your timetable won't allow for that.