Name: Tianna Jenkins
Location: Houston via New Orleans
Occupation: Owner of CosignedByGod apparel and Christian public relations group
Salary: She said she has generated six figures but needs help figuring out a paycheck.
Money Shift: Figuring out how to set up a budget for her business, including paying herself a salary. She is also curious about business credit cards.
Self-admitted serial entrepreneur Tianna Jenkins hit her stride when she created the CosignedByGod streetwear clothing line in July 2021.
The CosignedbyGod messaging, street-savvy hoodies, bucket hats, and T-shirts resonated with a diverse set: secular singer and rapper Jidenna wore a T-shirt, and Forbes.com ran an article on the brand.
"The brand is for everyone," said the Houston resident, who created CosignedByGod to motivate herself after her two-and-a-half-year marriage dissolved.
Now, after generating six figures through the business, the 28-year-old Hurricane Katrina survivor and New Orleans native wants to launch a luxury fashion line for CosignedByGod. The goal is to have higher-end, customized CosignedByGod looks for awards shows and other special occasions. She's also launching a CosignedByGod public relations group to help budding entrepreneurs position their brands.
"I love helping people and connecting with people," said Jenkins, who previously offered consulting services to entrepreneurs for sourcing vendors for their businesses.
With her current and future business plans, Jenkins needs to organize her finances.
"How can I manage my personal finances while paying myself from my businesses so that I can separate personal and business needs?" said Jenkins, who also wants a business credit card.
Faith and Finances
Jenkins has $24,000 in student loans from The Art Institute of Houston, part of a for-profit college chain under scrutiny from the U.S. Department of Education. Jenkins may be able to get her loans discharged under the department's Borrower Defense program, which gives loan relief if a college misleads its students for enrollment purposes or engages in other shady tactics.
The rent on her two-bedroom apartment is $1,400 per month. Her car, a Hyundai bought at an auction, is paid off.
Jenkins splurges on journals, a habit that costs her up to $200 per month. "I write down my goals, and I write letters to God about how I'm feeling," said Jenkins, who runs an IG page, Reminders for Black Girls, full of affirmations for emotional healing. "I have a journal dedicated to plans for the business."
Jenkins takes her glam seriously, spending $100 on silk presses and $84 on the popular coffin-shaped nails manicure. Jenkins treats herself to Urban Aesthetics by Derek Arnell, spending $150 on its blueberry glow booster, white honey cream cleanser, body oil, and other items.
On the dining front, street tacos are her guilty pleasure and are $3 each from her favorite food truck.
Jenna VanLeeuwen, CFP, principal at Aligning Wealth in Jersey City, New Jersey, says that Jenkins should consider what operating costs are for her business, what is necessary for growth, and what she needs to put away for quarterly tax payments.
"What does she need to save to be able to handle larger amounts of inventory or to be able to do more marketing?" VanLeeuwen asks. "Does she need to save to be able to add staff in the future?"
For personal finances, it's helpful for entrepreneurs like Jenkins to create a "target budget" for essential expenses, fun expenses, and long-term goals like saving for retirement or buying a house.
Next, entrepreneurs should compare their budget to their industry's standards for profit margins.
"Then you'll know if you are relatively on track or need to adjust by increasing revenue or lowering expenses," said VanLeeuwen, whose firm specializes in serving business owners.
Jenkins should discuss with an accountant how the funds should get paid out, likely a monthly or biweekly paycheck and then annual and quarterly distributions, VanLeeuwen said.
An example budget for Jenkins, according to VanLeeuwen, might be:
Money To Save:
35% of profit into taxes
20% towards marketing and upcoming expenses
- Pay $5,000 into checking for bills
- Pay $2,000 into fun money accounts for other spending
- Save $500 toward retirement
- Save $500 towards a house
When distributing profits to her personal account:
- Save 50% towards retirement and 50% towards a house
James D. Kinney, CFP® and owner of Financial Pathway Advisors in Bridgewater, New Jersey, co-founded a successful apparel industry business in 1991 that he eventually sold.
Instead of prioritizing getting a business credit card, Jenkins should consider getting a credit card with a local bank with robust commercial lending operations, Kinney said.
Financing can get complicated when dealing with overseas suppliers—the apparel industry regularly sources internationally. Building a relationship with a bank with a global footprint will make it easier to grow, he said. Kinney said you should only use credit cards for routine transactional expenses rather than purchasing inventory.
"Lines of credit are more favorable tools for financing inventory," said Kinney.
Natalie P. McNeal is the author of "The Frugalista Files: How One Woman Got Out of Debt Without Giving Up the Fabulous LIfe!"