- The Washington Times - Monday, May 24, 2004

The recent Google IPO announcement has shown there is still life in the post-bubble Internet economy. Today however, rather than grand schemes and ideas, e-entrepreneurs are bringing solid business models and market knowledge to the table to create real, profitable-today enterprises. One of these e-entepreneurs is Edward P. Foy, Jr., the CEO of eFashion Solutions, LLC (www.efashionsolutions.com). His company grew from $3,000 and an idea to employing over 90 people with revenues of $25 Million in just four years.

Since many of your emails have focused on careers in the dotcom culture, tech start-ups, and as e-enterepreneurs, this week’s Workstyles is a Q&A; with Ed Foy about his success as an Internet entrepreneur.

eFashion Solutions, LLC is web-based business model, but are you a dotcom?

We are a dotcom but we focus our business around traditional business practices. We leverage what they do offline by building an online presence around their traditional media and advertising campaigns. Our business model at eFashion Solutions is to design a fantastic web site, build the technology to service the e-commerce needs of each fashion line, and fulfill the web site orders quickly and efficiently which helps them control production by increasing or decreasing inventory based on popularity from the web-sales.

Is it unusual to be both a B2B and a B2C?

Yes, because we service both our clients (the fashion lines) and their online customers (the consumers) which make for a very complex model. Our B2B target are called “clients” while their B2C audience is identified as “customers.” But by staying “on message” we are able to fulfill our mission statement: “To provide superior service to our clients & their online consumers.”

What are the biggest challenges you face as an e-commerce entrepreneur?

As far as running the company, the challenges are the same if you are an online or offline business owner. Whether your storefront is “the web” or leased office space, running a business requires hard work, focus, commitment and passion to make it. And, even though we have always been profitable, since dotcoms are often associated with failure, we often have to deal with vendor, banker, and lender concerns because of the stigma associated with all web-based solutions.

How did eFashion Solutions, LLC afford to buy the initial inventory to launch? Since we only started with $3,000 and none of us knew how to raise venture capital, we created an inventory program on consignment. The manufacturers and vendors who agreed to this won big by achieving higher margins through their web sales.

As you grow from last years $13.5 million to this years volume of $20 - $30 million, will you require outside funding to keep up with the growth?

Make the money and more will come! Our profits have been supporting our growth but since our shipments have grown from 2,000 to 200,000 annually, we have been offered a UPS loan to keep our growth rate going. They saw first hand how well we were doing and stepped in to help with our next phase.

Based on your experience and success, what are the three tips you can offer to our readers who are considering launching their own e-businesses?

1. Share your vision with your people. If they believe in it they will work ten times as hard and eventually your vision becomes their vision.

2. Don’t build a business hoping that you will eventually make a profit. In business, profits should be your purpose. Like my father always said, if it cost you $5 to make a Pizza you better sell it for more than that.

3. You have to love what you do… it’s like a marriage if you don’t love you’re spouse you will never make it past the bad times.

What are your three tips to our readers who are considering employment with a start-up or growing e-business?

1. If you are asked to invest your life savings into the company during your first interview or first month. Run! They aren’t looking for good staff they are looking for investors.

2. If the starting salary is below the industry norm, make sure the CEO is not the highest paid employee of the company.. Sacrifice has to come from the top down.

3 e-Commerce is constantly changing so be ready to work long hours, read, think and react.

Jay Whitehead is America’s most-read, most-watched and most-listened-to expert on workstyles. Email your questions to [email protected]

Listen to Jay Whitehead on web-radio every Tuesday 5pm to 6pm EST when he hosts Won on Won with Whitehead on www.businessamericaradio.com . This week, Join Jay when he interviews Edward P. Foy, Jr., CEO of eFashion Solutions, LLC (www.efashionsolutions.com) about ecommerce and licensed brand fashion apparel. Email questions in advance to Jay and his guests at [email protected]

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