How One Mom Got Out of Debt and Launched Her Own Gender-Neutral Clothing Line

Chantelle Paige-Mulligan was once $30,000 in debt. Here's how the mom paid it off and started a new chapter as a fashion designer and entrepreneur—as well as her best tips for others who wish to do the same.

After graduating a semester early from high school, Chantelle Paige-Mulligan decided to pursue music and signed a deal with Interscope Records. Her parents supported her decision and helped her rent her first place in Los Angeles. But as soon she began taking responsibility of her finances, Paige-Mulligan realized she had no idea what she was doing.

She enjoyed her success in the spotlight, but after she stopped touring in her early 20s, all of her advance money was gone. She began working as a waitress and bartender and ended up accumulating nearly $30,000 in debt due to everyday expenses as well as travel. "I love traveling—not mad about it," she says. "Travel as much as you can but also pay off your credit cards."

By the time Paige-Mulligan was 28, she had reconnected with her high school sweetheart, became engaged, and wanted to head into marriage feeling more financially fit. She and her sister started to make money as influencers, creating content on social media (Paige-Mulligan boasts 2.5 million TikTok followers), and she was also bringing in cash by putting her place up on Airbnb when she was out of town. In about a year and a half, as a result of living frugally, Paige-Mulligan was able to pay down her debt.

After welcoming her two little ones with her now-husband, Paige-Mulligan felt compelled to seek a professional outlet—ideally one in which she could flaunt her artistic ability and that would last for years to come. "I really wanted something that I could continue doing in a creative way," she notes. "I knew that I wanted a job where I could be around my kids enough to get those moments but to also be doing something else besides being their parent."

The content creator founded Senna Case, a gender neutral clothing line for kids and adults with apparel all handmade in California. The company's tagline: "Just because your clothing is gender neutral doesn't mean it has to be colorless. Your clothes should be vivid, like the memories you make with your children."

The line is filled with unisex pieces that can be passed down from kid to kid no matter their gender, she says. "And we purposely make all the pieces oversize so that your kid can grow into them."

These days, the mom of two is happily living the entrepreneurial life and continues to share her joys and challenges on social media. Here, her best tips for paying down debt and being more centered financially.

Consider Cost per Wear

While shopping or coming up with your own idea, you may want to keep "cost per wear," or CPW, in mind. As a clothing designer, Paige-Mulligan became quite familiar with the concept, which is the idea that the value of an item is directly related to how much you use it. "If you're paying $60 for an item, and you wear that item six times, you're paying $10 per wear for that item," she explains. Her goal: to make Senna Case a $0 cost per wear—or even negative balance—for consumers, because they're getting so much use out of each piece.

Set Specific Goals

Given her experience paying off debt, Paige-Mulligan recommends that others who wish to do the same really focus on the details. "Just really hone in on how much you want to spend and what your income is, how much you can set aside from that to pay off that debt each month, and stick to it," she advises.

Make sure to budget everything, including how much you can spend eating out. It can make the experience of paying off debt a little easier. "You don't want this to be a completely horrible experience paying off debt," says Paige-Mulligan. "It's already so disheartening to have the debt to begin with."

Talk About Money With Your Partner

If you're in a committed relationship, says Paige-Mulligan, talking about money is a must. Even when she and her now husband were just dating, she would talk to him about her debt. "I know that he's better with money, and I trusted his advice, so it ended up being a really good step for me in talking to him because he was able to help me and push me in the right direction," she says.

Shame and secrecy about debt can also make a relationship much harder. "The other person doesn't know that you're trying to save money in order to pay off debt or be responsible or save for the sake of having a nest egg to start your own company," explains. Paige-Mulligan

Know the Effort Will Be Worth It

"I'm a huge believer in the energy that you give off is the energy that you get back," notes Paige-Mulligan. And that's why it's so fulfilling to take care of your debt and learn how to spend responsibly. As she's found, "it just makes you happier day-to-day."

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