Fighting to stay open

At the end of last year, five business owners struggling through the recession shared their stories of facing a make-or-break holiday season. Here's how they fared.

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Hoping for a loan
Sha Ragin
CEO, Ragga Mundo
New York City

Ragin owns a clothing line that targets the Hispanic and Caribbean market. In November, he was anticipating a poor holiday season and, after years of growing the company, had closed his two offices and started running the company from home.

It's been slow moving. We're surviving but I'm trying to work with banks to start growing the company again. I'm going for an SBA loan but I know it's still tough getting a loan despite the 90% government guarantee.

We're still creating and designing and selling to smaller chain stores such as Dr. Jay's and Jimmy Jazz - in total, we're in over 150 stores. Among those smaller stores, we've gotten great feedback and continue to grow in that segment. But my goal is still to get into the big retail chains. We were close to scoring a deal with Macy's but they pulled the plug on us in November after a year of negotiations.

Up until that point, I was profitable and growing. But since, I've had to cut my staff from nine to five, which was a shame because I was poised to hire 25 more people had the Macy's contract gone through.

I'm still working from home but I'm looking at an office because I've outgrown it once again. I'm freelance-writing for the new HBO series True Blood to keep me going until the loan goes through. I'm also promoting like crazy, with the help of the smaller stores. We hold fashion shows and parties and we'll be going on a tour in September to make the public aware of what is coming next in the clothing line. With events like that, I'm sure we'll get back on our feet soon.


NEXT: Working the day job
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LAST UPDATE: May 20 2009 | 1:52 PM ET
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