Small Business Profiles
Georgia leads the nation in production of peanuts, pecans, blueberries and spring onions. Don’t forget the peaches. The warm weather, diverse soil types and rural surroundings make for fresh, rich produce. For Sarah O’Brien, owner and founder of Little Tart Bakeshop in Atlanta, this luscious produce is one of the main reasons she moved to the South to start her business in 2010.
When federal funding programs don’t work for the small businesses they were designed to support, owners may be forced to seek out much riskier avenues to capital in order to keep their doors open. Unfortunately Chef Frisco Thumbtzen in South Carolina is one such example.
After his military service left him with disabled veteran status, Chef Frisco turned to entrepreneurship. In the military, he worked as a limousine driver and when he was discharged, he was given his own vehicle so he could start up his own transportation business.
More than a year and a half into the pandemic, many small businesses are unsure if they will be able to recover after fighting to stay above water and accruing crippling debt. Small business owners of color, women and immigrants have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic as they’ve faced barriers to accessing federal relief programs and traditional lending. Small business owner Daysi Del Rosario Rivas Peralta is one example.
Deb Ramirez Rock’s Sonoma, Calif.-sourced hot sauce has been her passion project for more than seven years, but after a series of unpredictable events—starting with a wildfire in 2019 that destroyed her crops—it has been an uphill battle to make her organic, locally made hot sauce.
Freelance cameraman, cinematographer and Emmy award winner Erich Roland first learned his craft by his father’s side. For many years, he worked freelance until July of 2004, when he decided to expand his passion into a small business. He used his own personal inventory, which includes premier motion picture and photography equipment, to rent audio and visual equipment to customers, and DC-Camera was born.
Martin Garcia opened Gramercy Gift Gallery in 2018, in the bustling city of San Antonio, T.X., with the vision to fill a gap in his community. As a minority-owned business, Gramercy Gift Gallery brings unique gifts, art, decor and novelties to a community that continues to expand, grow and attract retail chains. And while the growth is rapid in the area, small businesses and independent shops are still scarce.
Tax expert Talibah Bayles started her career in a big way, working for the FBI in Washington, D.C, but in 2006 she decided to move back to her hometown of Birmingham, Ala. and launch her own business so she could focus on taking care of her young family. While Birmingham is a much smaller city, Talibah was determined to make a big impact on her community.
Middle school teacher Talia Waller started making her own organic candles for fun because the price point for similar products are so high in stores. In the early days of the pandemic, her candle-making hobby became a successful side hustle for Talia. These days, Catherine Ann’s Candles—named for Talia’s two grandmothers—is a thriving business with a storefront and bulk contracts with her local supermarket.
After working as a rescue specialist at a fire department in Mexico City for many years, Hector Chavez and his family moved to the United States so he could pursue certifications and advance his career. But 10 years later and out of opportunities to continue his passion, Hector decided to open Plaza Garibaldi, a Mexican restaurant in Soledad, Calif.
Only a couple of months away from receiving an engineering degree, Alexa Alfaro decided to go out on a limb and pitched a business idea to her family. She’d spent the better part of her life learning about her Filipino heritage with her father, and cooking was the main ingredient for her to do just that. That’s when she launched Meat on the Street, Milwaukee’s first Filipino food truck in 2014.
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