Originally from Guyana, Mark Khadoo, owner of Big Frog Custom T-Shirts And More of Palm Coast, moved to the United States in 2000. Even though he was an Urban Planner by profession, Khadoo spent 16 years doing a variety of things in up-state New York, including High School Teacher and Senior Store Manager for a Rent-A-Center. After years of living in the cold and seeing his kids locked up indoors for six months out of the year, Khadoo decided it was time for a change. In the summer of 2016, they decided to head South.
"I visited Palm Coast for over a decade before we finally decided to move," he said. "I had friends and relatives living here. I really like the laid back environment and the weather. The move also gave me a chance to reflect on what I was doing for work. I decided it was time to stop busting my butt for someone else. I wanted something where I had more say and control. I started looking at different options and discovered Big Frog. I loved the concept. There's a lot of giving back to schools, churches and the community with Big Frog. It wasn't the most financially attractive option, but I loved the philanthropic side of the business and the fact that I get to interact with customers and make them happy as they see their creations come to life."
Khadoo put the wheels in motion around June of 2017. He and his wife, who is also a 50% owner of the company, spent some time getting the necessary approvals and permitting procedures taken care of. Khadoo went to Dunedin, Big Frog Corporate Headquarters, to get trained and prepared to open his store. Big Frog of Palm Coast officially opened its doors on April 6th, 2018. Since then, business has been steadily increasing. Khadoo reached out and is already forming relationships with nearby schools. He even offered to print a free t-shirt for every student who wins 'Student of the Month' or 'Terrific Kid', in every class and every grade level as a way to work with the schools to honor the achievements of the kids. It's important to Khadoo that his contributions make a positive impact on the community in which he operates.
With any new business, there have been some challenges that Khadoo shared with us. "Our biggest challenge, aside from the typical things that come with managing other people, is getting the word out as to who we are and what we do," he said. "What we do is very different from traditional screen printing. Everything is digital, full color and fully customize-able. We do what's called 'Direct To Garmet'. Instead of printing on top of the shirt, we embed the ink into the fabric. It produces a shirt that 'breathes' better and one that will last longer. In terms of designs, you can sit with a designer and come up with anything you want. What's also nice is that you don't have to order big quantities. You can actually order just one t-shirt. There's no setup fee as well. We'll do the mock up and then email you a proof for your input. Once you're happy, we print it. We have a 24 hour turnaround for things we have in stock. Our services are great for small businesses with a few employees that only want a handful of shirts."
As Big Frog of Palm Coast continues to grow, Khadoo is focused on becoming even more involved in the community. He wants to work with churches, non-profits and animal shelters. He understands that success won't happen overnight, but he does want to get the business to a place where it's self-sustaining and capable of paying great wages. At some point he plans to step back and hand over daily operations to his store manager. He's also toying with the idea of opening a second location in the Jacksonville area.
Khadoo offers up some great advice for aspiring entrepreneurs and also those faced with having to manage different personality types. " Up north, my store was so successful that we were the training store for the whole district," he said. "Any new employee had to come to my store to train for a week. I think a lot of that can be attributed to the fact that I try to remember what it was like to be someone 'coming up'. It's important to look at things from your employee's perspective. Make them feel valued, involved, important, wanted and, even if you can't compensate them as much as you would like, compliment and show them appreciation. It's also important to understand that your employees have lives and things happen. Be flexible and understand that life happens. If your employees aren't on-board with you, you're going to sink. To get my employees on-board, I've incorporated profit sharing. The better the store does, the fatter their paycheck and there's no cap on it."
"In terms of those individuals aspiring to be their own boss, if you're not happy with where you're at, it's pointless to stay there," he said. "It's time to move on. It's most people's dream to own their own business, but do not fool yourself into thinking that when you become your own boss you'll work less. My average day is 14-18 hours of work. I do 10 hours at the store and then come home to do taxes, financials, compliance, paper work, google ads, Facebook ads, emails, etc. Be prepared to put in the work. If you want to succeed, you have to put in the work. Lastly, unless you're very well funded, make sure you have other dependable sources of income. You'll spend more money than you think."
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