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Business Owner Credits Her Success to FastTrac Course

Connie Parsons, part owner of the Velvet Coat, said the road to owning her own high-end clothing and jewelry boutique in downtown Iowa City was a challenging yet rewarding process.

Ms. Parsons practiced as a dental hygienist for 20 years before she opted to leave to start her own business. The transition and the subsequent fear that her new endeavor wouldn’t succeed were “scary,” she said last week.

She and her husband, Doug, took out a second mortgage on their house in order to fund the start of her boutique at 116 E. Washington St. — the money covered the cost of rent, gutting the building and an inventory composed of high fashion clothing and shoes.

Ms. Parsons attributes the success of her boutique to a $99 FastTrac course she took in the spring of 2000 at the University of Iowa. The class helped her put together a business plan and she was one of the few in the course who took the “jump” of implementing it, she said.

“It was the best money I spent, at the time,” she said. Ms. Parsons partnered with Michelle Galvin in 2002, splitting the ownership with her 75 percent to 25 percent. In 2006, Ms. Galvin purchased another 25 percent, making them equal partners.

Ms. Parsons said, however, that ultimately her success is tied back to the strong business plan she developed at the UI, adding that her plan made her an attractive candidate for a commercial loan.

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