Entrepreneur Tina Sagal turned her passion for fashion into a dress resale business that is quickly growing in popularity. In November 2012 she opened Tina’s Dress Boutique in downtown Racine. The shop, which specializes in like-new consignment wedding and special-occasion dresses, was named Best New Small Business in 2012 by the Racine Downtown Corporation. Sagal’s marketing and networking savvy along with her utilization of resources available to Wisconsin entrepreneurs has set her business on the runway to success.
Idea to implementation
After discovering there were no special-occasion dress resale shops in the Racine and Milwaukee areas, Sagal found a niche that she was eager to fill. In order to accomplish that, she first contacted the Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corp. (WWBIC).
She further explored her business idea through the UW-Parkside Small Business Development Center (SBDC) First Steps course, a two-hour workshop that provides information that every entrepreneur should consider before taking the leap into business ownership. Sagal then took the Entrepreneurial Training Program "Small Biz" course. “Throughout that class, the SBDC was there for me several times during the business plan writing, helping me with some of my marketing analysis and with my financials,” says Sagal.
To fund her business, Sagal secured a Minority Matching Grant through Racine County and a loan from WWBIC. While attending a local networking event, she met Flowers by Walter owner, Sally Christensen, who offered to rent her space within her flower shop. “Financially and industry-wise it really made sense, because we have dresses and flowers in one business,” notes Sagal. “It is a really good match.”
Since launching her business, Sagal has put her business in the spotlight to gain exposure and ensure success. In January she exhibited at a bridal show which landed her 15 new appointments. She also organized a prom fashion show in February and in March hosted the Belle of the Ball, a non-profit initiative that provides prom dresses to low-income girls. Each event resulted in publicity and increased sales.
“My December and January sales were very challenging,” notes Sagal. “But my February sales were unbelievable.” In fact, February and March sales were nearly six times the monthly sales she had in January. “I have a bridal show in June in Milwaukee,” she adds. “That should bring more visibility and more sales in the upcoming months.”
Sagal currently employs one person part-time, but may need additional staff as her business grows. “My goal is to get into the Milwaukee market as much as possible, expand out further from Racine,” says Sagal.
Helping others succeed
To achieve her dream of business ownership, Sagal overcame many personal challenges, including the death of her mother. She now wants to help others and even teaches the SBDC First Steps class that once helped her. “I want to be a mentor for people; to show them there are ways of succeeding, and to not give up,” says Sagal. “There are many women out there that have had a lot of challenges in their lives and don’t know where to go next. WWBIC and the SBDC gave me the support and the knowledge that I needed to succeed.”
For more information on this chic new business, check out www.tinasdresses.com and www.facebook.com/tinas.dress.boutique or stop by 503 6th Street in downtown Racine.
In Photo: Tina Sagal at the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony (November 2012) with Devin Sutherland (Downtown Racine Corp. President) and Mayor John Dickert.