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Business

Silence is not an option

disparties 600“We are sending a clear signal that we can no longer afford to do business as usual in this community,” said Darrell Cobbins, president and chief executive officer, Universal Commercial.
 
Cobbins was among a group of notable minority business owners and leaders who gathered at the National Civil Rights Museum to address economic and business disparities in minority business contracts in Memphis and Shelby County on Tuesday. The first of those business leaders to address the crowd of media, business owners, and concerned citizens was Ron Redwing.
 
“Our goal is to spotlight these disparities in a way that brings about swift and significant change,” said Redwing, president of 100 Black Men of Memphis. “If Memphis is to rise and become a ‘world-class’ community, all of its citizens must be active participants in its economy.” 

High Scores for 529 College Savings Program

Looking for a tax-advantaged college savings plan that has no age restrictions and no income phase out limits – and one you can use to pay for more than just tuition?
 
sims 600Consider the 529 college savings plan, an increasingly popular way to save for higher-education expenses, which have more than tripled over the past two decades — with annual costs (for tuition and fees, and room and board) of more than $40,000 per year for the average private four-year college. Named after the section of the tax code that authorized them, 529 plans (also known as qualified tuition plans) are now offered in almost every state.
 
Most people have heard about the original form of 529, the state-operated prepaid tuition plan, which allows you to purchase units of future tuition at today’s rates, with the plan assuming the responsibility of investing the funds to keep pace with inflation. Many state governments guarantee that the cost of an equal number of units of education in the sponsoring state will be covered, regardless of investment performance or the rate of tuition increase. Of course, each state plan has a different mix of rules and restrictions. Prepaid tuition programs typically will pay future college tuition at any of the sponsoring state's eligible colleges and universities (and some will pay an equal amount to private and out-of-state institutions).

The Business of fashion – Part II

wealthy2 600A successful designer must be innovative and task risks. James Davis of L.R. CLOTHIER embodies those characteristics and more.  He is pushing the envelope by building a fashion business in Memphis, which is truly risky business. Here is the conclusion or our conversation with Davis, who has persevered and proven that fashion can thrive in Memphis.
 
Carlee McCullough: How would you describe your artistic and creative style?
James Davis: At L.R. CLOTHIER our house style is contemporary classics. Your wardrobe is an investment and that is how we approach our clients. Trends are great, but they come and go so quickly. For example, it’s much more fitting (no pun intended) to have a 3-button suit model, as compared to a 4-button front. That jacket model will be here forever, yet you can adjust the lapel opening or stance, giving it more of your own personality. There can be different options on the color pic stitching. This gives you that designer’s flare. Italian influences have always been the foundation. The best tailoring and fabrics are woven in Italy and that is reflected in many of our designs.

The Business of fashion – Part I

tie-fashion 600When many people think of Memphis they think of our soulful music, smoky barbecue or muddy Mississippi River. One of the last things that come to mind is Memphis as a fashion forward city.

There is, however, a growing class of creative individuals committed to bringing fashion into the forefront of a place that seems to reference the past more frequently than the future. In part one of a two-part series, we meet pioneer James Davis, who not only offers tailor-made clothing, but has his own fragrance as well.

Carlee McCullough: Thank you for taking the time to share with our readers your experience and knowledge. Tell us about James Davis?
James Davis: Let me first thank you for taking time to have me for the interview. I am the president and owner of L.R. CLOTHIER. I strive to be more successful every day and understand that success is not simply defined by how much money is made, but how many people you have a positive influence upon as well. I truly believe that if you think it – then you can achieve it. Everyday is something new, something different and life is what you make of it. I love what I do.

Business plan winner values the process of learning

businessplanwinner 600Michael Partee recently had one of those experiences that lend credence to the thought that it is often the journey – rather than the destination – that yields the most reward.

Partee, the owner of M.B. Partee's Gourmet Pecans, recently emerged the winner of the best business plan grant competition sponsored by Deidre Malone and The Carter Malone Group LLC. After a thorough review by a panel of professionals, Partee came out on top of the grading process. He netted money to invest into his business and a new perspective on what it takes to run one.

"I'd like to think that I learned more about my business through the process of writing this business plan than I they learned from reviewing it," said Partee. "Through their symposium, I was able to truly look at my business and identify strengths and weaknesses that will affect its success long-term. ...This was a great learning experience."

ON OUR WAY TO WEALTHY: The business of landscaping

lawncare 600The beautiful May flowers nurtured by April showers are usually accompanied by overgrown grass and weeds. With very little upfront investment, a lucrative business can be created for landscaping residential and commercial properties.

Many men have flashbacks of their younger days when their parents demanded they mow the lawn. Equipped with little more than a push mower and a rake, the teens went to work on the lawn. The more industrious teens became entrepreneurs, mowing more than just their parent's home. They made contact with the neighbors and began their summer jobs tending to the lawns in the neighborhood.

With a standard of expertise above the norm, lawn care now is a thriving business. Whether the business is independently started as a sole proprietorship or a franchise is purchased, there is money to be made in the industry. The benefit of an independently started business is that the profits are not shared and the entrepreneur is free to make his or her own rules. The benefit of a franchised business is that most of the documents needed to begin the business have already been created by the franchisor. Depending on the geographic region, marketing may also be included in the monthly fees.

Retirement risks to consider

moneymatters 600The road to a comfortable retirement is full of risks, and they don't end when you stop working. As an investor, you are probably aware of market risk. You might also have considered longevity risk – the risk that you could outlive your retirement assets.

Here are four additional risks that may be worth considering, whether you are in the accumulation phase of your retirement journey or are already spending down your savings.

Inflation. The inflation rate has been relatively low over the last five years, averaging about 2.25 percent per year. But even that level can eat into the purchasing power of your savings. And long-term inflation trends have been higher, averaging 2.85 percent annually over the last 30 years. Although you may want to tilt your portfolio toward more conservative investments after you retire, you still might allocate some assets to stocks and other investments that have the potential to outpace inflation. Of course, all investments are subject to market fluctuation, risk, and loss of principal. When sold, they may be worth more or less than their original cost.

The business of natural hair

CarleeMcCullough-160Madam C.J. Walker, Johnson Products, Pro-line and SoftSheen are all companies that have benefited greatly by providing products for black hair. These entities lead the way for other firms to profit from the industry as well. Corporations such as L'Oreal and Pantene seized the opportunity to expand their business into the market by leveraging their financial strength and distribution network. Many of the smaller black-owned companies were acquired by the major corporations and positioned as divisions.

In last week's column detailing HINO (Hair Industry Night Out), state Rep. Antonio Parkinson pointed observed that there is a natural movement going on outside of hair care; more and more people want to be closer to nature and anything that has to do with lifestyle or healthcare. As women increasingly move toward embracing their natural hair and leave behind damaging processing and/or chemicals, styles are ranging from natural curls to locks and pressing/flat iron to afros.

Feeling liberated, many women now wonder why they waited so long to embrace their natural hair. Along with this movement come myriad business opportunities.