Lori Edgmand, owner
211 N. Perkins, Suite 24
Stillwater, OK 74075
Lori Edgmand, owner of Nature’s Supply in Stillwater, Okla., is celebrating her eighth anniversary of providing fresh organic foods to customers six days a week. Since the company’s beginning, employees and sales have more than doubled creating the necessity to increase retail space which was completed two years ago when the store expanded into a vacant suite next to their current location. After the expansion she soon began working on the next phase of her business plan, to install a commercial kitchen. It took over a year but The Eatery opened several months ago. The Eatery currently offers gluten free as well as dairy free soups and salads. Sandwiches will be added soon. Stephanie Simpson, Edgmand's daughter created the recipes used in the kitchen including a non-dairy soft serve ice cream, which has been a big hit with customers. Edgmand started the business because local residents needed to drive about an hour away to find organic or allergen-free foods.
Edgmand could relate to the need because she was one of the people driving out of town for certain items. As the business grew, Edgmand hired Clay Barrett to manage the store. Additional retail space was soon needed and that’s when she visited with SBA MicroLender Rural Enterprises of Oklahoma, Inc (REI). REI assisted Nature’s Supply with an SBA Microloan to purchase furniture, fixtures, inventory, and advertising. The SBA Microloan program offers financing up to $50,000 for businesses that need a little help for the basics. Nature's Supply soon relocated to its current location in Rosewood Hills Shopping Center.
Since that time, Edgmand has also become involved with REI’s Oklahoma City Women’s Business Center (WBC) taking advantage of the training and networking opportunities provided by the WBC. She is also a member of the WBC’s Peer Group, a small gathering of women entrepreneurs learning from one another and sharing common concerns. “REI and the Women’s Business Center have been a wonderful resource for me,” Edgmand said.
“I would strongly encourage women business owners to get involved, to take advantage of all that’s available to them through this great organization and get on with their dream!” Edgmand said. Because of her involvement with these and other organizations and support groups, Edgmand has been able to survive the ups and downs of entrepreneurship.
“While there are always the 'typical' retail business obstacles such as funding, increasing customer base, product availability, distributor issues, etc., I believe the biggest obstacle for most small businesses is yourself - your preconceived thoughts and ideas, limited views of the how’s, why’s, when’s and where’s of business,” Edgmand said. “A small business should be looked at as an ever changing, ever growing entity. It’s human nature to stay with the familiar which can keep us from encouraging that change and growth. To help encourage that change and growth it is imperative to get involved with other business groups, such as Peer Advisory groups or Mastermind groups. These groups keep you thinking creatively and openly about your business.”
Nature's Supply stocks a large selection of gluten-free and allergen-free items, as well as many organic items such as dairy, bread, bulk grains, seeds, dried fruit and more. Edgmand believes in buying Oklahoma produced products and carries Oklahoma raised chicken, eggs, and Certified Organic beef from John's Farm. Locally made goat milk bath soap, lotion and laundry soap is also a popular item for those who have skin conditions.
Edgmand’s advice to others wanting to start a business: “Be prepared for long hours, many people underestimate the amount of time and energy it takes to run a small business, but it's worth it. Seek out other business owners, listen to their experiences, and learn from theirs and your own experiences. I did not have retail experience so I read as many books and articles as I could. I also participated in a tax workshop through the Oklahoma Tax Commission. Another valuable learning tool was touring other (non competitive) health food stores, in state and out of state, asking the owners detailed questions about their experiences.”
One look at the store and web site, www.natures-supply.com and it is evident that those long hours have paid off. Edgmand said what makes it all worthwhile for her is the satisfaction of her customers.
“The greatest benefit to me personally is our customers,” she said. “Getting to know them and helping them find what they are looking for motivates me to do the parts of the job that are less appealing, and to withstand the pressures and responsibilities of business ownership.”
REI is a statewide economic development firm with offices in five Oklahoma locations: Durant, Alva, Oklahoma City, Tulsa and Lawton. Visit www.ruralenterprises.com for more information.