When we endorse a particular small business solution provider, we always like to talk to current customers to double check our editors' picks. We all know that PayPal is a huge name, but we wanted to see if it really lived up to its reputation. These three entrepreneurs use PayPal to grow their businesses. Here are their stories.

How Fashionphile Uses PayPal to Increase Payment Efficiency

When Sarah Davis was a graduate student, her interest in fashion led her to start buying and reselling clothes and accessories on eBay. She found that her biggest profit margins came from her vintage handbags. Shortly thereafter, she launched Fashionphile, an online business selling high-end handbags from big-name designers.

At first, she was only able to send items once customers' checks cleared at the bank -- a lag that hurt her cash flow. And since 95% of her sales were through her website, she needed a more efficient option. Once she signed up for PayPal, she was able to get her payments much faster, and ship bags immediately. She says she trusts PayPal's secure payment processing and appreciates its simplicity. Today, PayPal processes 100% of the company's online payments. It's seamlessly integrated with her custom website, staying true to the site's look and feel.

The next step was to sell internationally. With the help of PayPal, Fashionphile now sells $15 million in high-end handbags per year to customers around the globe. Not only can Sarah be confident handling the volume of sales coming in, but her customers feel comfortable making large payments safely.

How Ambush Board Co. Uses PayPal to Grow Business Abroad

Meet Eric Michael Elliot, surfing fanatic turned small business owner. Eric dreamed of opening up a one-stop shop for all the things that he loved: surf equipment, records, clothes, the works. He finally realized his dream by starting Ambush Board Co. in 1997.

By 2001, the store launched its ecommerce website, which generated a lot of buzz. People loved what he had to sell, and with increasing customer demand, Elliot's archaic payment processor could barely keep up. He made the switch to PayPal for all of its credit card processing because of the company's trusted reputation. He also found that PayPal offered lower processing fees and better reporting than he could get from other providers. This was just what he needed to kick his business into the next gear.

Now, he regularly receives international orders and the payment flexibility gives his customers an extra level of comfort. He also gives his customers access to financing through PayPal Credit 1, letting them spread out payments over time. For their part, Ambush assumes no credit risk. Today, Ambush Board Co. is now the world's premier dealer of wakeboards, and generates $7 million in annual sales online, and counting.

How Bee Raw Uses PayPal to Buoy Business and Simplify Finances

Health food was Zeke Freeman's passion. He started Bee Raw in 2005, selling hand-harvested honey in food markets, at lifestyle stores, and online. People loved his honey, and 11 years later, though Freeman was still running his business from his home office, he saw a growth rate of about 20% a year 2. The company uses PayPal to process and manage all of its payments, Freeman says: "We have all of our money coming into one place, which makes it easy to track where sales come from."

Freeman has used PayPal Working Capital loans 3 to buy honey from beekeepers in the summer, so he's fully stocked with inventory when the holidays approach. "PayPal Working Capital gave us additional capital when cash flow was tight, and the loans are paid directly from our PayPal account when we have sales," Freeman says.4 After generating sufficient revenue, Bee Raw was able to easily pay back the loans through their PayPal account.

Another of Freeman's necessities was being able to sell on the go. He used PayPal Here, the mobile card reader, to process payments wherever he was selling, and keep up with his customers, who didn't always have cash on hand. "We want people to taste the honey and understand the different flavors, and we'll ask them to sign up for our newsletters," Freeman says. "So the festivals and markets are just as much about lead generation as they are about sales. When people are ready to buy at the markets, PayPal Here lets us process the purchase so they can take home their honey right away."

PayPal for the consumer is convenient, but PayPal can offer even more to a small business. These entrepreneurs used PayPal to accelerate the growth of their businesses. PayPal can be an all-in-one payment processor for however your business sells today or in the future -- online, in store, on the go, or in marketplaces. PayPal is right for any level of business and entrepreneur -- from those just getting started to those expanding internationally.

Update: PayPal can be your trusted business partner, starting at $0 a month, and signup takes as little as 15 minutes! Follow this link to start accelerating your business with PayPal today.

1PayPal Credit is subject to credit approval, as determined by the lender, Comenity Capital Bank. 2Data is based on the business's own internal analysis. 3PayPal Working Capital is subject to credit approval, as determined by the lender, WebBank, Member FDIC. 4Subject to minimum payment requirement of 10% of the total loan amount (loan + fee) every 90 days. See Terms and Conditions for details. Advertisement

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Over the past month, both Haiti and Afghanistan have been pummeled by tragic disasters that left devastation in their wake.

In Haiti, a 7.2 magnitude earthquake erupted, leading over to 2,189 deaths and counting. A few hours later, in Afghanistan, Kabul fell to the Taliban just after U.S. troops had pulled out after 20 years of war.

In many ways, these disasters are both chillingly connected to US interference. The United States invaded Haiti in 1915, ostensibly promising to restore order after a presidential assassination but really intending to preserve the route to the Panama Canal and to defend US creditors, among other reasons.

But the US forces soon realized that they were not able to control the country alone, and so formed an army of Haitian enlistees, powered by US air power and intended to quell Haitian insurrection against US controls. Then, in 1934, the US pulled out on its own, disappointed with how slow progress was going. Haiti's institutions were never really able to rebuild themselves, leaving them immensely vulnerable to natural disasters.

Something similar happened in Afghanistan, where the US sent troops and supported an insurgent Afghan army – only to pull out, abandoning the country they left in ruins, with many Afghans supporting the Taliban.

In both cases, defense contractors benefited by far the most from the conflict, making billions in profits while civilians faced fallout and devastation. While the conflicts and circumstances are extremely different and while the US is obviously not solely to blame for either crisis, it's hard not to see the US-based roots of these disasters.

Today, in Haiti and Afghanistan, civilians are facing unimaginable tragedy.

Here are charities offering support in Afghanistan:

1. The International Rescue Committee is looking to raise $10 million to deliver aid directly to Afghanistan

2. CARE is matching donations for an Afghanistan relief fund. They are providing food, shelter, and water to families in need; a donation of $89.50 covers 1 family's emergency needs for a month.

3. Women for Women International is matching donations up to 500,000 for Afghan women, who will be facing unimaginable horrors under Taliban control.


4. AfghanAid offers support for people living in remote regions of Afghanistan.

5. VitalVoices supports female leaders and changemakers and survivors of gender-based violence around the world.

Here are charities offering support in Haiti:

1. Partners in Health has been working with Haiti for a long time, and they work with the Department of Health rather than around them, which is extremely important in a charity.

2. Health Equity International helps run Saint Boniface Hospital, a hospital in Haiti close to the earthquake's epicenter.

3. SOIL is an organization based Haiti, "a local organization with a track record of supporting after natural disasters." They are distributing hygiene kits and provisions on the ground to hospitals and to victims of the earthquake.

4. Hope for Haiti has been working in emergency response in Haiti for three decades, and their team is comprised of people who live and work in Haiti. They focus on supporting children and people in need across Haiti.

via Tiffany & Co.

When the new Tiffany's campaign was unveiled, reactions were mixed.

Tiffany's, the iconic jewelry brand which does not (despite what some might be misled to believe) in fact serve breakfast, featured Jay Z, Beyoncé, and a rare Basquiat painting in their recent campaign.

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Road trips can be a lot of fun — but they can also drain your wallet quickly if you aren't careful.

From high gas costs and park admission fares to lodging and the price of eating out every night, the expenses can add up quickly. But at the same time, it's very possible to do road trips cheaply and efficiently. Without the headache of worrying about how much money you're leaking, you can enjoy the open road a whole lot more. Here's how to save money on a road trip.

1. Prepare Your Budget, Route, and Packing List in Advance

If you want to save money on a road trip, be sure you're ready to go. Try to count up all your expenses before you hit the road and create a budget. It's also a good idea to plan your route in advance so you don't end up taking unnecessary, gas-guzzling detours. And finally, be sure to pack in advance so you don't find yourself having to buy tons of things you forgot along the way.

2. Book Cheap Accommodations — Or Try Camping

All those motel rooms can add up surprisingly quick, but camping is often cheap or free, and it's a great way to get intimate with the place you're visiting. You can check the Bureau of Land Management's website for free campsites. Freecampsite.com also provides great information on If you don't have a tent or don't want to camp every night, try booking cheap Airbnbs or booking hotels in advance, making sure to compare prices.

Camping camping road tripConde Nast Traveler

If you're planning on sleeping in your car, a few tips: WalMart allows all-night parking, as do many 24-hour gyms. (Buying a membership to Planet Fitness or something like it also gives you a great place to stop, shower, and recharge while on the road).

3. Bring Food From Home

Don't go on a road trip expecting to subsist on fast food alone. You'll wind up feeling like shit, and it'll drain your pocketbook stunningly quickly. Instead, be sure to bring food from home. Consider buying a gas stove and a coffee pot for easy on-the-go meals, and make sure you bring substantial snacks to satiate midday or late night cravings so you can avoid getting those late night Mickey D's expeditions.

Try bringing your own cooler, filling it with easy stuff for breakfast and lunch — some bread and peanut butter and jelly will go a long way. Bring your own utensils, plates, and napkins, and avoid buying bottled water by packing some big water jugs and a reusable water bottle. Alternatively, try staying at hotels or Airbnbs with kitchens so you can cook there.

4. Avoid Tolls

Apps like Google Maps and Waze point out toll locations, so be sure to avoid those to save those pennies. (If it takes you too far off route, you might have to bite the bullet and drive across that expensive bridge).

You can also save on parking fees by using sites like Parkopedia.

Road Trip Road TripThe Orange Backpack


5. Save on Gas

Gas can get pricy incredibly fast, so be sure that you're stopping at cheap gas stations. Free apps like GasBuddy help you find the most affordable gas prices in the area. Also, try going the speed limit on the highways — anything faster will burn through your tank. Be sure that you don't wait till you arrive at touristy locations or big cities to fill up.

6. Get a National Park Pass

All those parks can get really expensive really fast. If you're planning on visiting three or more parks, it's a great idea to get an America the Beautiful National Parks Pass. For $80 you can get into every National Park for one year.