This CEO was fired from her own $2 million company, here’s how she bought it back

Abu Mubarik July 05, 2021
Mary Seats, founder of Cupcake Mafia. Photo credit: xoNECOLE

Mary Seats in 2011 founded a streetwear brand called Cupcake Mafia. The entrepreneur started the company with just $300 and five years later, the company generated $2.4 million in sales.

In its first year of operation, Cupcake Mafia grossed $100,000 and when Seats got her business to hit $2.4 million, she sold in 1,900 stores and 49 countries. She attributed her success to being a ‘perfectionist.’

“I was an extreme perfectionist when it came to my photography, videography, social media, etc. I was very particular about my wholesale accounts and strategic collaborations. After getting my business to $2.4 million, we were sold in over 1,900 stores and 49 countries,” she told xoNECOLE.

However, her business success journey came crushing thanks to a business deal that went wrong. At a trade show, she met a buyer of Forever 21 who instantly fell in love with her collection and offered her a six-figure deal. At the time, her firm could not produce much merchandise for a big store like Forever 21 and so she went in search of a company with the capacity to handle large volumes as any wrong move could keep her out of business.

She signed a deal with one of the powerhouse companies and subsequently moved her entire life to New York City. However, it turned out that the firm she chose could not keep their promises and things took a bad turn just four months after working with them.

“They didn’t value integrity or relationships at all, they only cared about the money,” she said. Following the negative development, she was fired by the board of the company she founded. In other words, her company.

How did Seats fight to regain her company?

Seats told xoNECOLE she lost her firm and not her resilience. At a point in life, she was homeless with her struggling mom and she picked up a vital lesson in life, which is never to give up. With that at the back of her mind, she hired a top trademark lawyer in New York and fought with the board. When the “fight” appeared fruitless because the board would not communicate with her, she opened another store that ruffled their feathers, forcing the board to start communicating with her.

“Six months later, I walked into their office and paid five figures for my brand. After that, I only had the trademark and now needed production,” she said. “I went to China to purchase my own production factory to ensure that I would never get middle-manned again. After I had the factory in China, I then signed a big deal with Citi Trends. My wins just kept coming after that big loss.”

Seats has three pieces of advice for those who want to be like her. Her first piece of advice is that people should thoroughly read every contract they sign. Second, one should start a business if only they can imagine having $0 in their account and still desire to do it. Lastly, Seats advises all to protect their name and brand.

Last Edited by:Editor Updated: September 25, 2023


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