Overcoming All Odd’s: Despite Disability, 60-Year-Old Woman Launches Own Business
Essential Under T’s
Barbara Read is no stranger to adversity. Eight years ago, as a result of Central Nervous System Vasculitis, Read was diagnosed with a short-term memory impairment that has affected her ability to find sustainable employment. Though Read has been receiving disability pay and services over the last few years, she has yearned to find a means to financially support herself. However, due to her disability and lack of employment over the last five years, Read’s job opportunities are limited.
As a means to achieve financial stability and get off disability pay, Read created a vision to launch her own business, showcasing a clothing product that she conceptualized. The idea was initiated by a personal experience that Read had on a very hot summer day while in church. Read was wearing a chic summer dress that she had layered with a t-shirt for modesty, but found herself hot and sweaty from the added layers. Wishing for a lighter, more breathable, more feminine and formal alternative—the idea for Essential Under T’s was born.
Read has worked tirelessly for two years to bring her vision to life and has since designed a product that offers several unique qualities. The cornerstone feature of Read’s product is a short design, which cuts off just below the chest to avoid un-needed layering over the torso. Essential Under T’s are also distinguished by lace trim, a flattering neckline, and added coverage over the shoulders for strappy dresses and blouses.
To create the product, Read devoted hundreds of hours, including a number of personal trips to the Los Angeles garment district to find an affordable fabric that aligned with her vision. Nearly a year later, with the help of Read’s favorite “lace man” Albert, Read found just what she had been looking for!
In the spring of 2011, Read’s Vocational Rehabilitation counselor referred her to the Orem Small Business Development (SBDC), an organization that helps entrepreneurs formalize and launch small business startups. Read was introduced to Marynika Miche’, a business consultant at the SBDC who helped her write a business plan, put financials together, and complete paperwork for a Vocational Rehabilitation grant that would provide Read with critical startup funds. “The SBDC has been a great blessing in my life. I needed someone to come along and set me on the right course,” said Read. “Marynika worked effortlessly on my Performa income statements, monthly cash flows, and estimated startup costs.”
In June of 2012, Read was awarded a small business startup grant from Vocational Rehabilitation to launch Essential Under T’s. The 22,500-dollar award is a significant milestone for Read’s journey as an entrepreneur—helping cover the much-needed costs associated with prototyping and manufacturing products during the first year of business.
In recognition for her hard work and determination, the Orem SBDC has selected Barbara Read to receive a Small Business Award for the second quarter of 2012. “I believe Barbara has what it takes to make this a success,” said Miche’. “She has worked so hard to create her product and to receive the grant. This hard work and persistence deserves recognition.”