A South Florida Based Company
Gail Woodley is planning on success. She can’t afford otherwise — she got laid off from her job in February, after 29 years in banking. “I’m too old to get hired for a good job and too young to retire,” said the 52 year-old Woodley. So Woodley dipped into savings to launch her Fort Lauderdale sports and active wear T-shirt company, Get Wet Inc. It’s her own line of UV shirts, hoodies, tanks, hats and other products branded with a powerful wave as its logo. Various sailfish designs blast through the icon.
People laid off from long-time careers often face barriers to relaunching themselves, said George Gremse, a semi-retired business consultant and vice chairman of Broward SCORE in Fort Lauderdale. “They often feel wounded from the process,” he said. “They have to regroup and get their head on straight so they can move forward.”
For those starting a business it means understanding “what profit will your concept deliver,” Gremse said. “Funding is the most critical piece. Will you break even or lose money for the next 4 months?”
Woodley incorporated her business in September 2011, but getting laid off put her plan on a fast track. She hit the ground running to make ends meet for her and her son, Eddie, 24, a college student studying to become a physical therapist.
In addition to paying her COBRA health benefits, a mortgage and living expenses — Woodley invested about $20,000 of her savings into what she hopes will become her bread and butter. In the meantime, Eddie also works at a golf course.
As a banker, Woodley specialized in developing small business client relationships and helping them with their needs including financing, loans and budgeting for start-up costs such as licensing and registering their business.
Putting the pieces of a business together is like creating a mini-economy, and in the process, anetwork of small businesses giving each other a helping hand, says Woodley.
She tapped several artists including Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale student and Hollywood concept artist Carlos Jimenez of PencilSamauri, for logo work, and Robert Haag of R. Haag Designs in Pompano Beach for her website, getwetactivewear.com.
Woodley needed a design, brand management and manufacturing house for her products so she turned to Suzi Ernewein of Oakland Park-based Sharp Marketing.
Emewein advises entrepreneurs to, “Come up with a specific plan and think about where you see your product line going,” she said.
Woodley created an informal partnership with Chuck Baldwin of Baldwin’s US1 Scuba gear shop in Pompano Beach. They use the same sign and printing companies to maximize buying power. They co-market one another’s business with referrals and business cards.
It’s been beneficial for Baldwin, who is new to the area and bought the existing business in January. “Gail has such a deep history in the area,” said Baldwin. “She’s able to make introductions.”
“That’s what it’s all about,” said Woodley. “We will not grow this economy or our community without helping each other.”
“Our country is based on entrepreneurship,” said Gremse. “Take some risk out of what you are doing by getting knowledge. Reach out to people.”
Woodley has been “testing the waters” selling her products at local events and marine-themed flea markets. She provided shirts at the Extreme Kayaking Fishing Tournament as auction items to benefit the Palm Beach Reef Rescue organization. She also sells in a few retail venues.
This past weekend, Woodley weathered the storm — literally and figuratively. She had a booth at the Pompano Beach Seafood Festival. In between vicious gusts of wind and downpours, Woodley She sold over half the inventory she brought to the event. She networked with other vendors. She got advice, learned logistical lessons and got to know her demographic better.
“It’s been very encouraging,” said Woodley. “I feel good about how things are going.”
“She tapped several artists including Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale student and Hollywood concept artist Carlos Jimenez of PencilSamauri, for logo work, and Robert Haag of R. Haag Designs in Pompano Beach for her website, getwetactivewear.com.”