From all appearances, Angel Quintana was off to a great start as a young entrepreneur. Launching her business as a fashion designer in her early twenties, she was receiving accolades for her creative designs and it seemed that there would be no limit to her growth. She didn’t have a lot of cash, but she had “amazing credit,” so when she needed funds to grow her business she applied for several credit cards.
But before she realized what had happened, she had maxed out 11 credit cards and found herself unable to make the minimum payments. She soon fell behind.
She found herself in a state of shock. “I had been a bookkeeper,” she says. I kept asking myself, “How did this happen to me?” Her credit scores went from the high 700s to the high 500s.
The next four years involved the stressful process of consolidating debt and negotiating with creditors. But she managed to settle all her debts and began to rebuild her credit and her business.
And rebuild she did. This time she set out to do things the right way.
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One crucial step was to separate her personal and business credit by getting a business credit card and using it for her business purchases. This allowed her to accomplish two things. She protected her personal credit because this card does not appear on her personal credit reports, and she built her business credit rating because this credit card is reported on her business credit reports. She also leveraged it to rebuild and maintain an excellent credit rating:
- She pays it on time each month because she’s learned the hard way how much late payments can hurt her credit scores.
- She pays her balances in full because she doesn’t want to get into debt like she did before, and that has a side benefit of keeping her debt usage ratio low, which helps her credit scores as well.
Quintana’s current business, Holistic Fashionista, now shows entrepreneurs with holistic businesses how to grow those businesses. She freely shares the lessons she learned, including mistakes she’s made, with her students. Money isn’t necessarily a solution, she insists.
“You gotta get customers first,” she insists. “It can’t just be an idea. If you don’t have any capital, it’s not a good idea just to bank on credit cards.”
Quintana’s hard work has paid off, and now she has a thriving business with clients around the world. Her personal credit scores are in the 800s and she says she’s addicted to monitoring them. She can now embrace what a few years ago was stressful and scary. Whereas not long ago she dreaded checking her credit scores, “now it’s just fun,” she says.
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Image by Hailley Howard