The Pink Room Shapewear: Evolving with NJ Capital Access Fund

The Pink Room Shapewear

Maria Sparacio is the founder and sole owner of The Pink Room Shapewear, a specialty retail business devoted to making clients feel great. Here’s how she secured financing through the NJ Capital Access Fund program and an SBA Microloan from Pursuit to support her business’s continued success.

Leveraging opportunities after emigrating to the U.S.

When Maria came to the U.S. on a student visa, the entrepreneurial opportunities she saw here influenced her decision to emigrate from her home of Cali, Columbia. In 2008, when the U.S. economy was in a tailspin, she took a chance on launching her business – an indication of her determination to succeed. Today, The Pink Room has two thriving brick-and-mortar shops and an ecommerce business, providing excellent jobs for 10 employees.

Maria says that her mother’s struggles with self-image – and similar challenges for so many women she came across – played a role when deciding on the type of business to launch.

“Our lives are full of wonderful challenges and changes, but not every aspect makes us feel great,” she explains. “When a woman has a baby, for example, along with everything beautiful about that, we experience tremendous physical changes that have an emotional impact, too.”

It was the early days of shapewear success for companies like Spanx®, whose products were helping women feel better every day. Maria wanted to bring confidence and empowerment to women, too.

Evolving to meet customer demand

“What we sell is shapewear and related products, but what we do is empower women to gain confidence and feel their best no matter where they are on their life journeys, while supporting good jobs through our stores and our work with responsible manufacturers and vendors.”

Maria launched her first retail shop in Elizabeth, NJ, with shapewear and clothing – at times offering up to 10,000 individual styles and sizes. In response to market demand, she pared down to focus on shapewear and related items, such as compression-support products that enhance post-surgical healing.

“We track trends closely and bring on or eliminate products regularly,” Maria explains. “That’s why I focused on shapewear for many years. But now, consumer purchasing habits have changed again, so we’re adding clothing and accessories that further enhance and support our shapewear lines and leverage wellness trends.”

Although Maria had always self-funded her business, she said that to get the high-quality merchandise she needs meant obtaining a loan for inventory and to develop new items.

“I want every aspect of our work to be beneficial and to do what we can to make the world better,” Maria says. “For me, that means working with vendors and manufacturers who have the highest standards for materials, customer service, and labor practices, including fair wages and benefits. I also try to support manufacturers in Columbia, because I know that has a positive impact on many women and families there.”

Learning that loans can support success

Like many small business owners, Maria avoided debt. Then, as a member of the local Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, she attended a presentation on small business financing that changed her view. It’s also how she learned about the NJ Capital Access Fund and Pursuit.

“The presentation really clarified for me that debt can be good, it can help you grow. And once I learned about Pursuit, I didn’t need to go any further for lenders,” Maria says. She worked with Business Development Officer Alex Felton and the Pursuit team. “Alex and my team were wonderful, just great to work with and, honestly, I wasn’t expecting that. As business owners, we don’t think of lenders as being compassionate and patient and making the process easier.”

Maria secured an SBA Microloan through Pursuit and says it’s having a very positive impact on her business, as well as easing some stresses of business ownership.

“Although I always believed that business debt would be stressful, I’ve learned that it’s the opposite. Having funds in-hand has given me peace of mind and the flexibility to make choices that support my goals,” she admits.

Pursuit has financing options tailored to small businesses

Maria offers her insight to other entrepreneurs, saying, “It’s much harder to grow without financing, so don’t be afraid to explore small business loans. There are great lenders and loans out there. And do it sooner than you think you need it, so that you’re not applying when your business is under financial stress. Otherwise, you might not take the time to make the best decision for your business.”

Pursuit offers 15 small business loans and a line of credit for small businesses throughout New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut and we’re happy to show you how we can help you, too. Explore our financing options, then contact us to learn more.

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