Inc.

Budget Boot Camp

National kung fu champion Sarah Carson spends her days making pretty dresses–a onetime hobby she has turned into a $6 million business. But she had to overcome some tight money squeezes along the way
SELF-STARTER An investment banker and martial artist, Sarah Carson taught herself dressmaking—and then started Leota, a company that would produce the kind of dress she loves to wear but couldn’t find.

UNTIL HER FASHION emergency of 2014, Sarah Carson thought business couldn’t be better. In three short years, the self-taught dress designer and founder of Leota had seen sales skyrocket. Customers loved her brightly patterned dresses, and ahead of its spring release, the New York City company was anticipating its best season yet.

So Carson thought it made sense to double her orders for spring dresses from the previous year: “I’d never seen so many polka dots in my life,” she jokes.

It was the wrong decision. Like many first-time founders still getting a handle on their company’s business cycles, Carson had failed to plan for the delay from when she made her products to when she could deliver them—or, more crucially, get paid for them. She didn’t realize her mistake until after the fabric had been ordered and the dresses made, creating an inventory pileup. The department stores that are

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from Inc.

Inc.3 min read
When Big Data Runs Into a Little Reality
IN 2013, WHEN MY CO-FOUNDER AND I started Iodine, we—like pretty much any startup—suffered from certain delusions of grandeur. Our slick slide deck touted our esteemed pedigrees, our unfair advantages, and our uniquely brilliant business idea. We wer
Inc.5 min read
Immigration Anxiety
Despite the political rhetoric, our economy needs foreign workers. You need to know how to protect yours
Inc.15 min readBusiness Biography & History
Doubts, Fears, and Two Very Bad Years
The untold story of how massive success made GoPro’s Nick Woodman lose his way—and how he plans to bring his company back from the brink