Sailing in Style

From Capturing Designer Fashion to Selling It

Sailing in Style

By Shavantay Minnis

After 25 years on the road as a commercial freelance photographer, Montana Pritchard decided to settle down close to home, in Palm Beach, Fla. Pritchard wanted a career change, and quickly became the owner of a successful small business, Zeidel and Co— despite a global pandemic.

Since 1909, the family-owned business has manufactured crew uniforms for superyachts in Hialeah, Florida. With locations in Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach. The company also handcrafts U.S. flags and creates custom-made embroideries shipped locally or internationally.

Originally, Pritchard did not intend to own Zeidel and Co., despite his interest in fashion and admiration for family-run businesses. When a close friend approached him about buying the business, he declined the offer, but agreed to work as a part-time partner.

Pritchard’s position involved designing graphics and managing photoshoots for the company's clothing line. He soon fell in love with the business, bought his friend out and became the sole owner of the Zeidel and Co.

But, as Pritchard began to take off in his new role, the world began to slow down. Like many other small businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, he realized early on that needed to take care of his employees and keep the business afloat.

Pritchard’s first steps were to search for small business assistance for owners like himself. His search led him to the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Florida Atlantic University (FAU) and Mitchell Goldstein, a consultant who specializes in business management and growth plans.

Once the two men connected, they created a business model that included labor cost for the business, how to manage inventory control and assistance with the loan application processes due to COVID-19.

“Mitch was very knowledgeable about my company and the competitors,” Pritchard said. “As the owner of a small business, I rarely get questioned, but Mitch challenged me, asking about real issues that I had to find the answers to, which makes the business that much better when I look at it from his perspective. I know it will be what we need to make it through this pandemic.”

With the plan in place, Pritchard wasted no time implementing those ideas. The company started to sell handcrafted face masks for crew members, and he remodeled the showroom so customers could have a better viewing. While this is Pritchard’s first time running a retail shop, he said he will continue to work with Goldstein to develop a larger plan that includes expansion of his locations.

“I did not realize how valuable a business mentor was until I had Mitch and the SBDC,” Prichard said. “I wish I had assistance like this before; it would have saved me so much time and energy.”