Amber Dawn Shopay of Woodland Hills, California, is a veteran businesswoman whose past successful ventures include a day spa, a bakery and a restaurant. Her newest venture, Global Angel, is a platform for people to give back as they shop â from apparel to face masks, 25% of every purchase goes to a charity of the buyerâs choice.
Global Angel started with a confluence of events.Â ShopayÂ discovered her desire to donate toÂ charities after her best friend was diagnosedÂ withÂ stage 3Â thyroid cancer.Â And whileÂ on a trip to Mexico,Â sheÂ was movedÂ after meetingÂ a group of young female soccer playersÂ withÂ no pitch to playÂ on.Â Finally,Â in 2018, the devastating Woolsey Fire broke out in Southern California, burningÂ nearlyÂ 97,000Â acresÂ and devastating Malibu and other coastalÂ communities.
âI started Global Angel so I could help people contribute to the charities they believe in,âÂ saysÂ Shopay.Â âTheÂ WoolseyÂ FireÂ was the final spark for me, but everyone has something they want toÂ support.Â Shoppers can select the charities I already have partnershipsÂ with,Â but they can also choose one of their own. When they do, I reach out and make the connection and add it to theÂ drop-downÂ menu. The charity is always soÂ appreciative,Â and my customers love it.Â It just makes people happy, andÂ IâveÂ met so many great nonprofits this way. Some Iâve never heard of before and I love that, such asÂ Color of Change.â
ShopayÂ had investors for theÂ earlierÂ companies that she launched,Â butÂ starting Global Angel was different.Â This time around,Â allÂ theÂ financingÂ was self-generatedÂ âÂ by use of her own credit cards.
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Can you take us back to the beginning of your business? What was your first task?Â Â
ToÂ create a budget. Like any new company,Â youÂ have toÂ do that.Â ItâsÂ all about Excel spreadsheets, plotting and planning and getting it done.
Having a budget helped with any cuts I needed to make so the company would be financiallyÂ viable. There was no book telling me how to do all this. I had to learn by doing. IÂ had toÂ come up withÂ a lot of money inÂ a short periodÂ of time!
What kind of large expenses did you have to pay for on the fly?
Well, I just bought a truck and I put it on my credit cardÂ âÂ IÂ had to get it. I wanted a mobile boutique so IÂ couldÂ pullÂ up inÂ peopleâsÂ driveways. This way,Â a person and her friendsÂ couldÂ go shopping in their own home.
I used a credit card instead of a loanÂ because I got a better deal this way. The people I bought it from live two blocks away from me and said they would giveÂ me a discount if I bought it directly. I usedÂ myÂ Capital One Venture Rewards Credit CardÂ because it has a high credit line and offers great rewards.
Do you have any other credit cards for the business?Â
Yes, I have theÂ Marriot Bonvoy Businessâ¢Â American ExpressÂ®Â CardÂ andÂ First Bankcard. I got both forÂ the business.Â IÂ use this card a lot but pay it off every month. Not every place takes American Express, however, soÂ itâsÂ good to have the Visa and Mastercard.
WeâreÂ going to keep introducing more items and will be expanding, butÂ I feelÂ IâmÂ prettyÂ set on credit cards now.
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What types of expenses do you typically charge?Â
I charge a lot.Â New designs, materials, paying manufacturers, screen printingÂ andÂ a storage unit all goÂ on theÂ card.Â Some expenses,Â like utilities,Â I have onÂ autopayÂ so IÂ donâtÂ have to think about them.
Because I charge so much, I have accumulatedÂ aÂ numberÂ ofÂ rewards. Some IÂ reinvestÂ into the business,Â but I am saving most for travel whenÂ itâsÂ safe to do it. I have hundreds of thousands of points now!
As for credit card debt, IÂ donâtÂ keep it long. I never go more than three months before paying something off.Â
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Do you have an accountant or do you DIY?Â
I useÂ QuickbooksÂ Pro Desktop, so I doÂ all my own bookkeeping.Â In fact, the first thing I do every day is check my accounts so I can easily reconcile my books at the end of the month. It only takesÂ 10Â minutes andÂ itâsÂ my opportunity to make sure everything is in order.
Is good credit important to you as a business owner?
Absolutely!Â Everything that you want to do is contingent onÂ good credit.Â If I want to rent a new space or take out a loan with a low-interest rate, I need it. In business, youÂ have toÂ be ready for anything. IÂ check my credit everyÂ dayÂ to stay on top ofÂ whatâsÂ going on.
ButÂ IâveÂ always had good credit. Ten yearsÂ ago,Â I bought a house and I learnedÂ how important it is to have it.Â ItâsÂ part of being responsible in all aspects ofÂ life. I got that from my dad. He always said,Â âWhen you meet someone, you shake their hands and look them in the eye. I donât care how busy you are, you acknowledge people.âÂ That carriesÂ on throughÂ the way I do business. Stand up and face peopleÂ âÂ and that includes creditors.
What are theÂ plansÂ for the business?Â
The truck is super exciting.Â WeâreÂ starting with one and will see how it goes. RightÂ now,Â it makes a lot of sense because many peopleÂ donâtÂ wantÂ to go to a store or mall,Â but they also want to try things on. This way,Â we can go to them, and they can try the clothes on in the truck.Â ItâsÂ really funÂ and safe (weâreÂ taking peoples temperatures before they go in). We mayÂ park it atÂ farmersâÂ markets,Â too.
Do you have any regrets?Â Â
No,Â IâveÂ loved it all andÂ wouldnâtÂ change my pathÂ forÂ the world. Even the failuresÂ âÂ andÂ IâveÂ had them.
For example, for one of my veryÂ first shirts that I designed,Â I took the advice of someone IÂ didnâtÂ agree with. He was in the manufacturing businessÂ for so long that I said,Â âOkay, he knows more than me.â
In the end,Â IÂ wasn’tÂ happy with itÂ âÂ and it cost me about $8,000. It was an important lesson because it made me stronger. I re-did the shirt the way it should have been in the beginning. I learned I can trust myself.
What have you learned about using credit cards that you would tell other small business owners?â¯Â
ThereâsÂ nothing scary about credit cardsÂ as long asÂ you have a budget with realÂ numbers. Project. YouÂ have toÂ do it so youÂ donâtÂ overspend and then get into trouble. With the rewards, credit cards make your money work for you. So,Â borrow when youÂ have to,Â but take care of the balance quickly. I am often debt-free,Â but I paid the truck off in three months.
Keep track of your credit scores,Â too. You donât know when you may want to financeÂ something,Â and youâll want to get the best interest rates to keep costs low. The more aware you are of them, the more you can do when you need to.
Any final advice toÂ entrepreneursÂ who are just starting out?Â
YouâreÂ talking to a dreamer! I have a lot of faithÂ âÂ I knowÂ IâllÂ get where I need to go. If you really want to start a business, you can do it.Â YouâllÂ encounterÂ problems butÂ thereâsÂ always a solution.
Also,Â find someone you respect who is in the same business and contact them for guidance. Your mentors are so critical becauseÂ theyâllÂ help you whenÂ youâreÂ confused about something. Choosing the right people to trust can seem hard butÂ youâllÂ know who they are. I knew that guy was givingÂ me bad advice and I should have listed to my gut. Follow your heart. We all have our own answers.