Gabrielle Goodwin’s barrettes were disappearing, and her mom, Rozalynn, was frustrated. Gabby was only five when she started asking her mom to make a barrette that worked — really worked.
“That broken record in pigtails and her dream to see them in stores pushed me into entrepreneurship when I didn’t think I had skills or the time,” Rozalynn Goodwin recalls. The pair worked on their idea for two years and developed GaBBY Bows, a double-sided barrette that doesn’t slip out of hair -- no matter the type or length. “They secure girls’ hairstyles and moms’ peace of mind,” says Goodwin. “We’ve never lost a GaBBY Bow.”
But developing a product requires access to capital for those heavy up-front startup costs. Financing and securing a cost-effective manufacturer that would produce the barrettes have been a major challenge for GaBBY Bows. The Goodwin family turned to SCORE for advice that would help their business grow almost as fast as Gabby.
In March 2016, GaBBY Bows was named a 2016 American Small Business Champion by SCORE and Sam’s Club, receiving a $1,000 Sam’s Club gift card to help with business expenses, along with one year of focused SCORE mentoring. As a Champion, GaBBY Bows attended a SCORE Spring Training daylong event packed with speakers, workshops, and roundtable discussions.
Goodwin reports that GaBBY Bows has doubled unit sales each year.
As for Gabrielle, the nine-year-old has plans to manufacture two new GaBBY Bows designs, write a book, and teach girls in children’s shelters about entrepreneurship through fun “GaBBY play dates.”
GaBBY Bows was named Outstanding Diverse Business at the 2016 SCORE Awards.
Goodwin teamed up with John LaFond and Maxey Love — both well-versed in financing and manufacturing — of the Midlands SCORE chapter in Columbia, South Carolina. Goodwin used SCORE templates as she built out GaBBY Bows’ business plan and financial projections. “These templates were critical in GaBBY Bows being named one of 15 national finalists for the 2015 U.S. Small Business Administration InnovateHER Competition,” Goodwin says. “A business plan with financial projections was a major portion of the competition application criteria.”
Goodwin meets with her SCORE mentors every few months when the need arises, but she also knows her mentors are just a phone call away. “I can’t adequately express how much of a lifeline Midlands SCORE has been to us as a growing business,” she says.