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Success Stories from SCORE of SE Wisconsin's Free Business Consulting


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SCORE is a volunteer organization that provides business training, free business consultations and mentorship from executives in your industry.

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Success Stories from SCORE of SE Wisconsin's Free Business Consulting

  1. 1. Accessible Wear Opens Door To New Shopping Experience A Nobel Prize winning physiologist famously said, "Discovery consists of seeing what every- body has seen and thinking what nobody has thought." That could explain how two people without any prior retail experience had the idea of opening a business dedicated to offering adaptive clothing to people with ability challenges. Lisa Brodacz and Neil Sherman were both familiar with the apparel needs of those with physical limitations due to illness, injury or simply advanced years. In attempting to assist elderly parents find appropriate clothing they discovered that the only options available were on the internet. There was no brick-and-mortar location devoted to providing a shopping experience focused entirely on their needs; no place where they could feel fabrics, try on garments and have items custom tailored to meet their particular situation. So in the spring of 2013, the two set about bringing their idea to life and Accessible Wear was born. What they have created is a one-of-a-kind establishment that is entirely accessible – from the free-standing building with parking just steps away from its automatic doors, to the spacious aisles, dressing rooms, restrooms and a wide variety of garments for all ages from children to adults and every level of taste. Both Lisa and Neil had considerable business experience but neither had worked in retail or had owned a business before starting this (ad)venture. After attempting to sort through the early start-up steps on line, they soon discovered that reliable sources are not readily available. “If you have a question, who are you going to call?” said Lisa. She soon discovered SCORE and was amazed at their many resources. Her initial SCORE contact with volunteer counselor Dick Boemer provided basic start-up information including how to secure a tax ID numbers and then he connected her with volunteer Tom Radke who offered advice on accounting and bookkeeping. Lisa was then paired with volunteer Carole Kauss, whose successful retail career made her the perfect mentor for Lisa and Accessible Wear. “I feel like Carole is my best friend. She is someone I can tell what’s happening; she listens and I trust her,” Lisa explains. “I trust everyone at SCORE. They are not there to sell me something, they are mentoring me; they tell me the truth – whether I want it or not - and everything is under one roof.” Lisa has attended SCORE workshops and has others scheduled on her calendar. “I feel sorry for anyone who does not take advantage of SCORE.” “I trust everyone at SCORE. They are not there to sell me something, they are mentoring me; they tell me the truth – whether I want it or not - and everything is under one roof.” Lisa Brodacz
  2. 2. Because the partners lacked prior retail experience, they could not interest a bank in providing a loan so they self-funded the business which opened its doors to the public in September 2013. Even before the space was ready, future customers were knocking on the door and the business began attracting attention; it hasn’t stopped since. Hundreds of people attended the grand opening, including SCORE mentor Carole Kauss, who reported, “The space is beautiful and the concept is solid. Lisa has really done her homework and I’m not surprised; she’s a real go-getter!” An article that appeared in the Journal Sentinel has been reprinted in a number of trade publications, posted on bulletin boards and circulated among all types of professionals whose day-to-day work revolves around assisting the same clientele Accessible Wear aims to serve. Lisa explains, “We really feel we are providing an essential need that to this point has not been met. There is no other store like this in Wisconsin and possibly none in the entire U.S. We are grateful that so many people are willing to help us grow this business.” Accessible Wear stocks garments and accessories for male and female clients who come in all shapes, sizes, ages and levels of ability. There are dress slacks with Velcro closures, dress shirts with hidden magnets and belts that can be managed using one hand – and so much more. All of these modifications are made while maintaining the conventional appearance of the garment and with the intention of allowing clients to maintain their independence while offering them the opportunity to dress as stylishly as the non-impaired. Lisa and Neil care about their clients and aim to provide whatever they need. They understand that people in wheelchairs require different considerations than those with range of motion or mobility restrictions. All their clients appreciate the attention to detail, which includes complementary alteration of sleeve and hem length by the staff seamstress, and the focus on premier customer service which may include adding Velcro, magnets or making other custom modifications on site. “We have received so many kind letters, emails and heartfelt expressions of appreciation from clients,” Lisa said. Accessible Wear has been open only a few months and success has exceeded initial expectations, in large part due to the passion the owners bring to the business and the attention they give their customers. They listen. Accessible Wear has already begun producing a line of ponchos for children and adults that they designed according to customer suggestions. Based on the number of inquiries and requests Lisa and Neil have already received, their growth opportunities seem endless. The partner’s biggest challenge now is to focus on working their plan and growing at a measured and manageable pace. A key part of that plan is to use SCORE resources to make that happen. SCORE – always accessible - for the life of your business. Accessible Wear 11045 W. National Avenue West Allis, WI 53227 (414) 546-2320 Lisa Brodacz with an accessible garment