Marcela Pinzon opened her design school, The Fashionable Stylista, in...

Marcela Pinzon opened her design school, The Fashionable Stylista, in 2021 with a handful of students. Now, she said she has about 140 students and employs five teachers, Credit: Howard Schnapp

For Marcela Pinzon, opening The Fashionable Stylista — a design school for first grade through high school students in Syosset — is a dream come true.

“Teaching fashion design is my passion,” Pinzon, 48, of Levittown, said. “It’s working with kids, helping them accomplish their goals.”

Born in Colombia, Pinzon said she and her family came to the United States when she was 4. She grew up in New Jersey.

Pinzon said she graduated in 1995 from Berkeley College in New Jersey with an associate degree in fashion merchandising and management, and then earned an associate degree in fashion design from the Fashion Institute of Technology in 1997.

She worked for the clothing company Cabana Life, was a vice president of merchandise and design for the children’s wear company Solo International and taught online for the Academy of Art University.

“I started doing classes on the side, at libraries,” she said.

In 2021, Pinzon launched The Fashionable Stylista in Hicksville with a handful of students — many of them friends — and family. Rather than take out loans, she said she used her own money to pay for the rent on her space and supplies.

Pinzon also contacted SCORE, a volunteer-led group that offers free help to entrepreneurs.

“She was extremely knowledgeable about her field, but took guidance on how to market [her business] and run it profitably,” said Ron Greenstone, a SCORE mentor who worked with Pinzon on advertisements, pricing and branding.

Pinzon has since moved her school from Hicksville to Syosset. She said she has about 140 students enrolled and now employs five teachers.

The school — a stylish 1,400-square-foot space on Gordon Drive — features mannequins, mirrors, chandeliers and sewing machines.

“It’s a ‘Project Runway’ feel,” Pinzon said.

While launching a business means struggles and long hours, Pinzon said she likes being her own boss, working in a field she loves and helping others realize their dreams.

“You have to have that passion and know what you want,” she said.

Pinzon hopes to launch another school just for junior high and high school students. “I still have a bigger vision,” she said. “It’s going to happen.”

NEW BUSINESSES

In May 2024, 423,945 business applications were submitted around the nation, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

RESOURCES

Want to start your own business? Here are a few organizations where you can find support:

LAUNCHING A BUSINESS

SCORE mentor Ron Greenstone advises entrepreneurs to do these five things before starting a business:

  • Define your goals and objectives, focusing on what you want to achieve in the short- and long-term.
  • Conduct market research so you know your target audience, competition and industry trends.
  • Create a business plan, including an "executive summary" overview, describing the business, marketing strategy and financial projections.
  • Network with industry professionals, potential partners and mentors.
  • Develop your skills and knowledge by taking courses and workshops, and keeping up with industry news and trends.

CRAFTING A BUSINESS PLAN

In addition to an executive summary, Greenstone said a business plan needs these four elements:

  • History of management: A description of the experiences that will help you succeed.
  • Market analysis: The current and future state of the market, including competition.
  • Financial overview: Projected expenses and revenue over the first three years.
  • Funding: How much you will need to run the company for at least the first six months, and whether you will need to borrow money.


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