BY CLYDE HUGHES, AC JosepH Media
WASHINGTON TOWNSHIP – Like her name, Faith Money had to step out on faith to see her dream of owning her own business come to life.
It was not easy, being a young African-American woman who people kept telling her that her concept for a special events venue was “too unique” and “too new” to run successfully, or that she was “too young” to pull it off.
Money, who was born and raised in Clayton, though, has defied naysayers with The Supper Club Event Center in the Fries Mill Plaza and then her sister location, Reflections, which caters to weddings and other events. Money said it has been a labor of love … and determination over those who dismissed her idea.
“Coming from a DIY family, we always celebrated special occasions in VFWs and fire halls,” Money told Front Runner New Jersey. “When I was 16 years old, I dreamed of owning a venue that ‘operated’ like a VFW but didn’t ‘look’ like one. I knew there had to be families that celebrated in the same fashion as mine.
“All I needed was the space too hold the people and to apply the knowledge I gained from transforming at other locations growing up. So, at the age of 29 I stepped out on faith and opened The Supper Club,” Money said.
Opening up a special events venue doesn’t happen at the snap of one’s fingers and Money, who has an associate’s degree in early childhood development, said she did a lot of learning, and praying along the way.
“It was extremely difficult to get funding to start to the business,” Money said. “Over seven different banks denied my loan requests. They felt the business concept was too new and too unique. The Cooperative Business Assistance Corporation is a nonprofit organization that provides business loans to small businesses in the area.
“Although initially they also believed my concept was ‘too unique,’ CBAC decided to consult with the accountant that was working with me through (The NJ Small Business Development Center). As a result, I was awarded the loan through them,” she added.
She credited Ernie Armstead Jr., owner of Print Kreations, with guidance that eventually led to them co-owning Reflections. Armstead is also a board member with SNJ Millennials, which does networking events and host seminars and workshops to benefit young entrepreneurs.
“I didn’t have anyone my age to ask about business operations,” Money said. “Since Ernie was a young entrepreneur, I started consulting with him. From mentor to business partner, teaming up with Ernie has been one of my best decisions,” she added.
Money said that the landlord at the Fries Mill Plaza where both of her venues are located has been a great mentor to her.
“He’s 80 years old and he continues to bless me with the knowledge he has gained from being in business for over 50 years,” Money said.
One of the first businesses she worked with was Lady Ashanti Events, an events and wedding décor service. Money said that the owner was the first to predict that she would grow into a second business.
“It’s hard for a business to grow without the true support of others,” Money said. “With the constant support of businesses like Lady Ashanti Events, I feel blessed and forever grateful.”
Money said she found that not only being a black female made it a challenge in starting a business, but also her height, being just under 5-foot. She adds, though, that even though she’s tiny, she’s mighty.
“In the beginning I felt that my petite stature and young appearance blocked people from taking me seriously,” Money, 33, said. “I found that I had to be confident in my delivery and stand firm in the operation of my product. Now, it feels so satisfying to know that people take my word for what I know and we work together from there.”
Now she has a team of four employees that Money said has become her family. She added, though, she learned to take charge when needed.
“Sometimes, it can be difficult to switch from ‘we’re one big happy family’ operation to the ‘I have to put my CEO hat on,'” Money said. “Ultimately, with a little bit of practice and demanding situations I’ve learned to balance the two.”
Now, through her experiences, Money has started Still I Rise, a minority female youth foundation. The foundation caters to girls and women 13 to 25 who need space to start or pursue their own business.
“People feel compelled to give you advise on how to run a business, but they have never run one themselves,” Money said. “With that said, in my first year I listened to every piece of advice thrown at me.
“Unfortunately, after trying to apply all the ideas, I was completely drained and worn down. Surprisingly, the exhaustion from feeling overwhelmed made me change gears. I started to find tools and processes to help make the work smart and not hard,” she added.
What is the best advise she can give those looking to start their own business?
“I would advise a young entrepreneur to put their idea/concept into action as soon as they feel the fire burning in their belly,” Money said. “If the world tells you that you’re ‘too young’ or that your concept is ‘too new’ or ‘too unique,’ than it must be the concept that’s meant especially for you.”