Meet Cheenwah Honora. Since she was a little girl, she’s had an entrepreneurial spirit. Ask her and she’ll tell you that she remembers drawing pictures of her great grandmother’s neighbors and trying to sell them when she was only 8 years old. Her business ownership desires carried into her adulthood, which led her to start 3 different businesses of her own while still pursuing her day job as a licensed practical nurse in New Orleans, Louisiana. This journey has taught her a lot and is the reason her 3rd business emerged to help others, Aristotle Creative Works.
“I want to end the struggle and advance the tools available to aspiring entrepreneurs.”
Like all aspiring entrepreneurs, finding free or low cost resources on or offline to start her companies was a challenge. Due to the unlimited information out there, she didn’t know where to start. And once she made a connection, not every organization was a right fit for her startup business or they couldn’t offer the right assistance required at a particular stage in her business growth. Finding people who possess the knowledge and skills she lacked was exhausting. She eventually discovered many other aspiring entrepreneurs facing those same obstacles. This is when Aristotle Creative Works was formed. A digital company that models after the aggregator business model by quickly addressing the information needs of its members.
The first business I started was called “Cheenwah’s Affordable Fashions” and like most business stories it began as an unplanned opportunity that I threw myself into pursuing unknowing of the risks.
I have always been a fan of designer handbags. This love led me to meeting a boutique shop owner who was going out of business. As she was liquidating her assets, I made her a deal. I offered to buy her purses by the boxes and resell them. She took the deal and for 7 years Cheenwahs Affordable Fashions was open for business. All my bags came with original tags, serial numbers and cards. As an added bonus, I stuffed my bags with real satin and/or silk scarfs. Things were going great.
With success comes learnings. The federal government served me with a $40,000 fine for not paying taxes. It wasn’t that I was avoiding it. I was in my mid twenties and did not know that I owed tax on each item I sold. After months of going back and forth with the sheriff’s office, I hired a tax attorney. I had a legitimate business name registered with the state and a federal tax I.D. What I didn’t have was a business account setup with an accounting system that tracks how much money I made on every item I sold. After doing a profit/loss sheet going back several years, I was issued a warning and ended up getting some money back in the process. The judge discerned that I did not know what I was doing and gave me community hours with an organization called SCORE, which I knew nothing about at the time. Everything happens for a reason.
SCORE was a wonderful experience. Their volunteers commended me for trying to establish myself as a business owner, but the reason I was able to get authentic handbags at a reduced price was because another business owner was going out of business. With further enlightenment, I found out that the reason the boutique owner was going out of business was because the luxury property tax skyrocketed. It caused prices on luxury items to increase, which means the buyers from the manufacturers would increase the price to have consumers absorb the additional cost. This increase put many small retail stores out of business and it eventually put Cheenwahs Affordable Fashions out of business too.
Learning: Although you register your company with the state and acquire a federal tax I.D. number, be sure learn how to handle your accounting and businesses tax implications. Missing this part, could cost you $40,000 in fines or fees.
But that did not deter me, I tried once again to succeed at financial freedom and attempted to launch yet another venture called Aristotle Art Visions digital Art Curation platform. I ended up paying over $2,200 in consulting fees just to obtain business advice, which I could have obtained free or at a lower cost. So, like all aspiring entrepreneurs like myself I found it very difficult to find free or low cost resources on or offline to start my company. I either did not know where to start- online research became too time consuming-and not every organization was a right fit for my startup business or they just could not offer the right assistance I required at that particular stage in my business growth. Likewise, finding people that possess the knowledge and skills I lacked to fill in the cultured gaps of expertise in entrepreneurship was exhausting. I eventually found out that many aspiring entrepreneurs like myself faced those same obstacles. This is when I created Aristotle Creative Works. A digital company that models after the aggregator business model which quickly addresses the information needs of its members.
Christina Caluda is a freelance art director and graphic designer. I am born in New Orleans. I moved to Los Angeles to go to college when I was 18 where I received my B.A. in studio arts with an emphasis in graphic design. I remained in California for an additional two years working odd jobs before I decided to go back to school for art direction. I moved to Atlanta where I attended The Creative Circus, a renown portfolio school where I received my graduate degree in art direction. I ended up moving back out to Irvine, Ca where I began working in advertising agencies. After 10 years of being gone from my lovely New Orleans I decided it was time to move home. I began working at a large company in the marketing department and 3 years later decided to venture out into freelance art direction/graphic design where I met the lovely Cheenwah.
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