Entrepreneurship and Small Biz Funding and Startup and Small Business

Sashay Modeling and Finishing School successful in first year

November 24, 2008


STARTUP

SASHAY MODELING AND FINISHING SCHOOL

Type of business: Modeling/acting school, etiquette classes Address: 14074 Trade Center Drive, Suite 137, Fishers 46038

Phone: 774-2200

Web site: www.sashaytoday.com

Founded: Sept. 1, 2008

Owner: Claudia Lynch

Owner's background: Lynch, 60, began working at the Indiana Jewish Chronicle as an errand-girl when she was 8, eventually becoming social editor. She later worked for Kartes Video. And after marrying and raising her children, Lynch spent 25 years in real estate.

Why started business: When real estate sales dried up, Lynch decided to start a business. She didn't know what kind until she tried to sign her grandchildren up for modeling/acting school, "someplace where they could have some fun, learn some poise and self-confidence," she said.

Unhappy with the attitude of employees at the school she contacted, she decided she could do better. So she pulled money out of her 401(k) to buy video cameras and computers, then rented several rooms in a Fishers office building.

Classes range from the standard modeling, pageantry and acting courses to etiquette classes for wedding parties, prom preparation and children's table manners.

Competitive advantage: Lynch said her location is important. In addition to being in an affluent area, the building has long hallways that students can use to practice walking and built-in photo appeal, with curved staircases and unusual doors. She also plans to provide students with real-life experience by including them in advertisements and television commercials.

Startup costs: $80,000

Funding source: Self-funded, with one investor who is now a silent partner

Projected first-year revenue: $500,000

Potential problem and contingency plan: Hiring qualified instructors is a challenge. Lynch received hundreds of applications, but most didn't have the two or more years of life experience and college degree that she was looking for. To compensate for this, Lynch said that she plans to "endlessly recruit" instructors.

First year goal: Lynch would like to have a solid curriculum in place within the first year. She's also considering expanding to Plainfield. Lynch hopes the etiquette and protocol portion of her program will begin to expand.

Five-year vision: If Lynch has her way, Sashay will be nationwide with schools in Dallas, Atlanta and Charlotte, N.C.

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