Home > Tycoon(15)

Author: Katy Evans

I shrug and tug Natchez toward the park, feeling a bit discouraged after days of thinking and being unable to amp up my proposal.

Why would Christos risk his neck for me? My business plan is a piece of shit. My whole damn life is shit. I’ve had three meetings with Christos and still nothing.

Here I am in New York, a city I’d still get lost in if I wandered out far enough, with a project I’ve had years to plan and is still no closer to maturing, and lusting after another woman’s man, unable to make my project even remotely interesting to him.

“Why can’t I be like you, Natchez?” I ask the Husky, stroking the flat of his back as he turns his head and licks my bare calf. “Oh, you think it’s all solved with a lick. That’s not real life, buddo. At least that’s not real life for humans. Hmm? But give me another one?” I let him sniff my hand, and he licks my fingers, and I giggle happily.

That evening, I sit with my computer, my drawings, my plan. And ask myself repeatedly the same questions he’s asked me.

What will differentiate my business from them?

What can I offer the market that is fresh and different?

God. I look at all of his success and I can’t even get on my feet on my own.

But I’m doing this.

I spend all weekend cooped up, trying to make sense of this dream of mine. I think of my parents—what I learned from them.

I remember opening Kelly’s. I remember how I used to be asked questions all the time from customers. Does this shirt match this skirt?

“You’re a visual person. You see things that aren’t there,” my mother would tell me. Aunt Cecile would gush about the simple but pretty outfits I always wore. Could I incorporate it into the business?

By next Monday, I decide not to call Christos and Co. but head over there instead.

Once again, the homeless woman asks me for money.

“Soon. Wish me luck,” I promise, giving her an apple I brought for her instead.

“Good luck,” she says distractedly, gazing down at the apple.

I wait patiently outside his office for his appointment to leave—and when Christos appears at the door, I rise to my feet.

Our eyes lock—and hold.

“I want to meet up with you,” I say.

He raises one eyebrow at me, then two. Shooting a chiding glance at his assistant, she starts to apologize, “She refused to—”

He quiets her by making a “five minute” sign, and then he nods me into his office. “You know you’re the first person who just walks in here expecting to be seen because she feels like it?”

“Well, it’s important.” I walk forward and take a seat across from his desk as he takes his.

“First of all, I need to ask: why are you helping me?”

He shoots me a look. “I’m not helping you yet.”

“I think you are. You’re being more than generous with your time and patience,” I say.

There’s a moment of quiet as we stare at each other. Christos then leans back, scraping his thumb along his lower lip as he looks at me. “You’re responsible, you’re honest, you take criticism well, you don’t retreat in your shell and cry about it. You go and fix what needs to be fixed, you have vision, and that’s what makes a great entrepreneur.”

God, I think my heart just skipped a thousand times, one for each word. “Do you mean that?” I ask.

“Do you have to ask that?”

The look he sends me clearly states he’s a man who means what he says…

I exhale and shoot him a look of gratitude.

“Okay. So I’ve got a great idea,” I tell him as I pull out my presentation. “I’ve even hashed out a business plan. Aside from our head department store in New York, and a kickass website—both carrying exclusive items that I will design along with the top-selling women’s fashion brands—House of Sass will be a personalized, trendy, fashion-stylist software. I have here some studies that prove that women dressed the part make better decisions and act more confidently and get more done when they’re confident about their looks. I want to offer them an app that will act as their personal stylist, with a push of a button. May I?”

I motion to approach, and Christos—hot in slacks and a white shirt—is watching me with a sparkle in his eye as he nods.

I take my phone and show him the small test application that I tried out with a developer this week.

“It’s not done yet, but you have the best tech people around,” I explain, blushing when I realize this must look so rustic to him. “This is homemade. I’m hoping with your loan…” I turn to meet his gaze, and look away when I realize he’s very, very close, “the software can be fully developed. Its database can include location and weather…top-selling products from around a certain mile range nearby…suggestions on what’s in style if you choose to amp up your spring, fall, winter, and summer wardrobes with a few must-have pieces. If the trends are thick belts, chunky bead necklaces, whatever’s up.

“It’s like a personal shopper and closet organizer in one. And it can be accessible to everyone, even people with no budget. All it would require of them is less than a day to input their closet pieces. Picture upload (keywords) and the software does the rest. It’ll save you so much time in the long run.”

I click on a button that reads “Night out.”

And a list of three options appears.

“See, these are actual pieces that I own,” I say, feeling his gaze over my shoulder as he studies it.

“It’s suggesting sweaters and leggings, boots, and wide belts, because that’s a current trend. And it’s supposed to be cool tonight. Now…if we want to make this edgier, we can have users interact with one another. I can give my friend access to my closet to either borrow pieces or vote on my suggested outfits for my occasions.”

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