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Growing an Inventory Business from Haiti

I, David Palmer, have been living in Haiti since June of 2015 running the Joan Rose Foundation and Good Threads. From 2010 to 2015 I lived in the Dominican Republic, by the Haitian border and ran the Joan Rose Foundation and Good Threads.

Founding and running a business or non profit is very challenging. I have been blessed to live in Haiti where the cost of living is quite cheap. I would not be able to live or even pay rent in most parts of the US with the money I make from Good Threads and the Joan Rose Foundation. Growing a business, especially one with inventory demands, is such a grind, or at least has been for me. I cant imagine trying to ramp up sales, inventory and find enough money to pay myself a decent salary. I know I am not alone in this, the truth is that if you start your own business or enterprise you will probably make less than you would working for somebody else, for a very long time.

Cashflow when creating an inventory based business is brutal. I have to carry finished needlepoint belts, needlepoint keychains and needlepoint dog collars in our US warehouse so that we can fulfill online orders, attend shows and run our stores. As I sell more products I generally need to carry more products so as to not run out too fast. Carrying more products means more cash sunk into my inventory. Simultaneously I need to carry the raw materials that the company uses to manufacture the needlepoint products in Haiti. Haitian customs does not make this job easier although to date I haven’t had any major issues with them. The kicker here again is that the more I sell, the faster I use my raw materials, which means the more I have to order and carry to not have constant production blockages due to missing one of the dozens of colors of thread we carry or missing one of the half dozen components necessary to make a belt. Finding the money to invest into growth and experimentation while also growing our inventory has been grueling but I do feel we are at a significantly more stable place than we were a few years ago. This year is probably going to be rough but hopefully the Christmas season goes well and next year we manage to fully get ourselves out of debt!