See below to view the raw interview with Tobin Buckner.
It’s still summer, but a Youngstown business owner is gearing up for winter.
Jerome Franklin is launching a new apparel product called It’s A Wrap.
A problem with the traditional scarf got Franklin started on his latest project.
“Either the scarf isn’t tight enough or it slides down, and I thought maybe there should be a solution to that,” Franklin said.
The half-face mask scarf features an embroidered logo.
Mesh on the inside prevents people from breathing in material from the fabric.
So far, Franklin has licensing agreements with Bowling Green, Kent State, Michigan State, the University of Akron and Youngstown State University. The YSU version will soon be on sell at the campus store.
Franklin said the latest project isn’t just about the dollars and cents. It’s also about inspiring the community and those closest to him.
“I’m doing it for my family. I want to leave a legacy for them,” Franklin said. “Everything is not negative when it comes to Youngstown. We are people who can start businesses. We are people who can be leaders.”
Franklin recently got approved to sell his YSU scarf in 18 area Walgreens.
It took several rounds of conversations with company executives before he got the final okay. Franklin utilized some of what he learned in Akron through a special program.
“We noticed right away that he had a drive that’s necessary to number one be an entrepreneur,” said Tobin Buckner, director of the Partnership for the Minority Business Accelerator.
“It began back in 2006 with the idea that African-American and Hispanic owned businesses, in particular, in this area were being underused,” Buckner said. “So it was thought, at that time, that there needed to be a new attitude around helping those businesses grow.”
Franklin’s a student in the 15-month, high intensity program.
“We have a monthly workshop that offers different topics (and) we have experts from all over the country who come in and talk to our clients,” Buckner said. “And in order to graduate you have to make an attempt at certain growth strategies and certain metrics have to be met.”
Franklin said he’s benefited from the networking opportunity the PMBA program affords and he’s learned a great deal on business planning and organization.
“These guys don’t mind giving you their business card and saying if you get stuck or if you need help call me,” Franklin said.
The scarfs are available now online at www.itsawrapclothing.com. They run about $25.
Franklin said he’s taking things one step at a time and has high hopes for this product and others down the road.
Buckner said applications are now available for the PMBA program. You can find more information at www.akronurbanleague.org.
Buckner had these tips for anyone in business or thinking about starting a business.
1. Get your back office in order- know your cost of doing business.
2. Stay in tune and in-touch with past customers and clients, for these are the same people who will buy again and tell others about you.
3. Utilize social media as much as possible; this is the first time in history that you can touch millions of people at almost no cost.
4. Technology is your friend. Let it go to work for you, so you can work on your business and not in your business.
5. Keep the TEAM tight: Key employees, attorney, CPA- have them in the right place at the right time.