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Navigating Tough Transitions

(October 2017) posted on Mon Oct 02, 2017

How to handle elements out of your control so your business can succeed.

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By Carmen Rad

In 1993, I founded CR&A Custom. Today, we are a full-service large-format digital print production and visual display company in Los Angeles. I was also pregnant with my oldest son, Chris – I just didn’t know it. Four months in, I thought I had a really bad flu. I visited my neighbor, who was pregnant, and asked her to share her symptoms. As she spoke, I remember saying, “I have that. I have that, too. Isn’t that the flu?” I congratulated my friend and wished her the best during her pregnancy, and then drove straight to the pharmacy. Needless to say, my first year in business was challenging.



There are many obstacles we face as business owners, some of which are completely out of our own control. From personal life changes – like becoming pregnant – to internal and external conditions in your business and in our industry – like adding new offerings to stay relevant throughout the years – there will always be experiences that will test us and our companies. The important thing is to tackle them head-on so we come out stronger than ever.

Finding a Niche – Or Many
CR&A Custom was founded as a custom apparel manufacturer, specializing in sublimation printing. My background is in fashion design and marketing, with degrees from the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising and the University of California, Los Angeles. My husband, Masoud, was a fashion designer with a degree from the University of London and became my partner after my first year in business when he saw I made a profit. We designed and produced custom apparel items for clients such as Sony Pictures, Paramount, and Universal, and created thousands of items for many of their featured films, such as “A Beautiful Mind,” “Gosford Park,” “As Good as It Gets,” and “There’s Something About Mary.” My favorite project was creating jackets for Ricky Martin’s “Living La Vida Loca” tour. The ladies who sewed in our factory and I wrote him love notes with our numbers and then sewed them into the liner of his jacket. We are still waiting for the liner to break and to receive his call.

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