Entrepreneurship

Tan France reacts to an entrepreneur living paycheck to paycheck

Despite his massive success, fashion designer Tan Francecan relate to 27-year-old Chloe Potter, who lives paycheck to paycheck and spends her spare time growing her side hustle, which she started from her apartment in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Before he became known as the fashion expert on Netflix’s hit series “Queer Eye,” France launched his clothing brand, Kingdom & State, from his apartment. For two and a half years, “I shipped from my apartment, I did all my office work from my apartment, I pretended I had three employees, so I had three different emails, just so I seemed more legit,” the 37-year-old tells CNBC Make It while reacting to a Millennial Money episode featuring Potter.

Potter, who worked at a start-up in Charlotte and was making $38,000 a year as of August 2019, founded a small-batch coffee roasting company, Levitate, in June 2018. Currently, she’s living in Florida with family and working at a coffee shop in Fort Lauderdale. Her long-term goal is to open her own coffee shop.

Right now, she’s not concerned about Levitate making money. “I don’t expect to profit from my business until at least three to four years in,” she told CNBC Make It last year.

That’s similar to the mindset France had when he started his fashion brand in his early 20s. If you’re self-funding your business, you probably shouldn’t be paying yourself “for quite some time,” he says. “I waited three years to start paying myself. I had a job on the side that paid for my cost of living, but as far as my business was concerned, every penny that I earned went back into the business. … That’s, in my opinion, how you build a sustainable business.”

I waited three years to start paying myself. I had a job on the side that paid for my cost of living, but as far as my business was concerned, every penny that I earned went back into the business.

Tan France

fashion designer

It worries France that Potter used her credit card to fund some early business expenses. As of August 2019, she owed about $7,000 in credit card debt. “I understand that Chloe had to use a credit card to build her business initially,” says France, whose latest project is starring on Facebook Watch’s new show, “Boost My Business.” But “relying on a credit card to expense your business is very, very, very risky. … Throughout the life of my business, I was able to never use a credit card and I think it built a really strong business because it meant that every penny that the business owned was mine.”

France also reacts to Potter’s spending habits. While living in Charlotte, she spent about $100 a month on her conditioning gym membership, which France is fine with: “When I was a business owner, there was so much stress every moment of every day and going to the gym just for that hour was a great distraction. … It’s great for your mental health.”

However, he recommends she find more ways to slash her food budget. Potter admitted that, when it comes to food, she’s “not the most cost savvy.” She used to spend up to $600 a month on food and spends between $320 and $400 a month on groceries today.

France recalls stretching $5 for three to four days’ worth of food when he was just starting out. He also lived on “beans on toast” as a student, which is just like it sounds: a can of beans on a piece of toast. He preferred Heinz, he says.

Check out France’s full reaction to Potter’s spending and savings habits.

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