Yolanda Bradford started her first business in 1995, YLB Accounting Services, in Shelbyville, KY. The company quickly evolved, and Ms. Bradford changed the name to YLB Accounting and Consulting Services, Inc. a few years later to more adequately reflect the firm’s focus.
Ms. Bradford met with Robert Coffey at the SBA Kentucky District Office in 2009 to discuss the 8(a) Business Development Program and was quickly accepted into the program. The 8(a) certification enabled YLB to obtain several profitable contracts, and the company quickly added 10 employees.
That same year, YLB applied for an ARC loan for $35,000. The loan was approved and used to help improve the company’s cash flow, as YLB had just lost a major contract due to the downturn in the economy. As cash balances improved, Ms. Bradford also purchased equipment for the company’s expansion.
In 2011, YLB applied for a 504 loan to purchase the building that the company had been leasing for almost three years. The tax advantages and rental savings dramatically improved the bottom line for the still-young company.
Never one to sit idle, Yolanda Bradford saw several opportunities in the catering industry and recently started YLB Catering Services. Says Ms. Bradford, “We recently won three federal contacts to provide catering services to the military in three different base locations in Kentucky and Indiana. Normally, we provide over 1,500 meals per contract.”
Yolanda Bradford believes in giving back to the community, too. She stated that one of the most rewarding aspects in starting YLB has been to help small business owners achieve their goals and build a solid foundation. “In essence, we help people with financial education and literacy, enabling our clients to manage their budget and achieve their goals. Helping others is extremely rewarding.”
Through the SBA, YLB Accounting and Consulting Services, Inc. has received advice that has proven invaluable to the business, which is now stronger fiscally and becoming a leader in its industry. Learn more information on the loan programs, counseling services and other small business services offered by SBA from your lender, www.SBA.gov and your local Small Business Development Center (SBDC), SCORE Chapter or Women’s Business Center.
Sisters Tea Parlor & Boutique is located in Buckner, KY. Equal parts tea room and gift shop, the business is located in a prosperous suburb just 20 minutes northeast of Louisville, KY. While successful on the surface, Sisters needed SBA assistance to survive.
Connie Young founded Sisters Gift Shop in 2002. The business grew slowly but steadily, and Ms. Young moved the location twice in five years for more space as well as better parking and visibility. Ms. Young decided to add a tea room but knew that would require even more space, necessitating a fourth and final move.
Connie Young renamed the business Sisters Tea Parlor & Boutique and asked her daughter, Lori Crowe, to help manage the firm. With 12 years of experience in marketing and management, Crowe also brought with her a passion for baking. The mother/daughter team developed the tea room concept. “In our minds, this idea could only succeed. Since we were not a traditional restaurant, there wasn’t a model to follow, so we had to find our own way,” said Crowe.
The tea parlor served its first tea on Mother’s Day weekend to rave reviews. Although a large budget was devoted to traditional advertising, word of mouth was the best marketing tool. The women, however, could not ascertain the effectiveness of their marketing. “We knew word of mouth would snowball,” said Crowe, “but we thought it would happen faster. Added Young, “We had to educate the public about the tea room and reach our target market.”
The business is the only true tea room in the region and has no direct competition in its market, but that created unique challenges, and the owners had difficulty finding advisors. The 2008 recession and soaring gas prices created a severe cash flow problem, because the business was perceived as a luxury. Despite efforts to offer less expensive choices, extend business hours, decrease labor costs and increase marketing, Sisters Tea Parlor & Boutique struggled to survive.
Connie Young’s youngest daughter, Kelly Stariha, joined the team in 2011, assuming a managerial role with a focus on human resources. This new leadership team needed a business plan, so they met with Sharron Johnson, Director of the Women Business Center (WBC) of Kentucky. Ms. Johnson provided the women with SBA resources and SCORE counselors, who helped recreate the company’s marketing literature and examined the financial reports, enabling Sisters Tea Parlor & Boutique to be in the black for the first time in years. In fact, sales have increased almost 46% in slightly more than a year with assistance from the WBC and SCORE resources.
Johnson also assisted the Sisters team with creating a contract for a large off-site catering event at the nationally-acclaimed Frazier History Museum in Louisville. That event gave the business unprecedented exposure to their target market as well as revenue at a critical time. Johnson then encouraged the women to seek additional contracts opportunities.
Sisters Tea Parlor & Boutique management attended business seminars at the WBC of Kentucky as well as its Women’s Business Expo in 2012, which included motivational speakers as well as workshops on marketing and social media, allowing the women to work with experts in developing new marketing mediums. The expo also allowed the women to showcase their business and reach hundreds of attendees who were the company’s target market.
Johnson then introduced Sisters’ leadership to the local president of the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) and to key personnel at the Louisville Convention & Visitors Bureau to explore event opportunities. Most recently, Johnson connected the women to students in the MBA program at local university, where the business will receive free business assistance from students.
Through the SBA and its resource partners, the Women’s Business Center and SCORE, Sisters Tea Parlor & Boutique has received advice from counselors who have proven invaluable to the business, which is now stronger fiscally and becoming a leader in its industry. Learn more information on the loan programs, counseling services and other small business services offered by SBA from your lender, www.SBA.gov and your local Small Business Development Center (SBDC), SCORE Chapter or Women’s Business Center.
From dry goods to diamonds, it’s all in the family. Henry E. “Hank” Davis recounts how four generations of Davis’ forged a family business from its earliest days as a circa 1920’s general store to a new millennium purveyor of the very finest jewelry. Over 80 years ago, Henry and Freda Davis founded the Davis family business in downtown Louisville. Their store occupied several different locations in the city’s business district, including a move necessitated by construction of a new interstate. A major metamorphosis occurred in 1998 after Hank Davis, grandson of the founders, enrolled in a strategic planning program offered by Greater Louisville Inc. – The Metro Chamber of Commerce. Through this program, Hank learned that 70% of his business came from 35% of his clients, and 80% of that client base lived within a five mile radius of a suburban site on the east side of Louisville that company leadership decided to acquire. Davis used two Small Business Administration loans to finance his move: the 504 and the 7(a) loan programs. The 504 loan program provides long-term, fixed-rate financing to small businesses to acquire major fixed assets, such as land, buildings, and equipment. Under SBA’s 7(a) program, loan proceeds can be used for most small business purposes. SBA guarantees the loans that banks make to borrowers, allowing the lender some additional flexibility. A Certified Development Company (CDC) located in Louisville was instrumental in working with a regional SBA lender to arrange the 504 program financing to build the new flagship jewelry store. Davis stated that “…to borrow a significant amount of money in today’s world, small businesses should use the SBA.” Subsequently, Davis decided to sell the downtown property and needed different financing options. A local SBA community bank worked with Davis Jewelers to obtain debt refinancing with the 7(a) loan program. Davis has nothing but praise for the process, particularly with the community bank. “I really enjoyed working with the bank. It’s been a very positive experience.” Henry and Freda Davis’ great-granddaughter, Ashley, is now the familiar face of Davis Jeweler’s, Inc. “She loves the business and has a definite passion for it,” says proud father, Hank. “I am proud to be involved in my family’s business and am focused on its continued success,” added Ashley. While the relocation and change in business strategy have worked out very well for Davis Jewelers, the company has weathered some challenging financial obstacles, including September 11, 2001 and the economic downturn of 2008 – 2011. In the wake of these obstructions, many small businesses were not able to survive. However, the shopping center where Davis Jewelers is located is in a highly visible locale that is 100% occupied, and more Class A office space is being built nearby. Davis points out that has been a “tremendous source of new business.” Today, Hank Davis reflects on the successful evolution of the family business from his grandparents’ general store, to the pawn and sporting goods store that his father, Arthur “Skip” Davis, operated, to the fine jewelry store that the third and fourth generation of Davis’ successfully manage. Hank said, “We are the first new Rolex jeweler in Louisville in 25 years and one of only two in the region. In our industry, this is the ultimate compliment. Rolex approached us, which rarely happens.” Davis Jewelers is also home to legendary American luxury designer David Yuman and his collection of fine jewelry and timepieces as well as the prestigious Forevermark diamonds. There are several sources for more information on the loan programs, counseling services and other small business services offered by SBA: your lender, www.SBA.gov and your local Small Business Development Center (SBDC), SCORE Chapter or Women’s Business Center.