Christine Dente had been in the apparel business for more than 20 years and head of her own company, Second Skin, since 2005, when a health crisis threw her for a loop and put her business in a precarious position.
Second Skin designs and develops private label women’s fashion clothing for major brands including Target, JCPenney, Kmart, Sears, Kohl’s, and Walmart. “We collaborate, source, manufacture, and ultimately ship product to individual retailers,” Dente says. “Everything from juniors to maternity and plus sizes.”
Headquartered in New York with offices in Hong Kong, Shanghai, South Korea, and Turkey, Dente says her 15-employee company has succeeded by “getting in the trenches” to collaborate with retailers’ product development staff. Still, Second Skin is a small player, competing with industry giants such as Li & Fung, a Hong Kong-multinational consumer goods sourcing firm. “You have to constantly reinvent yourself to stay relevant,” Dente says.
In recent years Dente had moved into licensing brands and developing new concepts for retailers, such as leisure wear under the Gottex Swimwear name, a line of yoga pants for sale by better retailers, and a line for the Cesar Golindo label. Such projects, which she financed privately with purchase order financing, factoring, and direct pay letters of credit, were putting her on a path to greater growth.
But when a routine eye exam in February 2014 led to the diagnosis of uveal melanoma, a rare cancer, the 49-year-old Dente found herself in isolation at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center for intensive radiation therapy. Away from the business for an extended period, she lost her private financing.
When she was ready to get back to work, however, she says she had a new perspective. “I’ve been very successful and have accumulated a lot of assets—real estate, exotic cars, handbags, jewelry,” Dente says. Those material things were never a priority, but she says her life-changing experience inspired her to ask, “How can these work for me now?”
After researching high-end pawn shops and brokers, Dente came across Borro, an alternative lender we reported on here recently. She turned over an oval 5.25 carat diamond ring and other one-of-a-kind pieces of jewelry to Borro’s team in New York in exchange for about $100,000 in short-term business loans.
Dente says the Borro loans secured by her jewelry have allowed her to carry out her business growth plans with little hassle. “You don’t have to open up your books, and once they have appraised your assets and you’ve signed, you have your money in 20 minutes,” she says.
Dente says she’ll be monitored for cancer for the rest of her life. And as long as she stays healthy, her smart use of her assets should put her in position for a comfortable retirement.