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Santa Ana District Office Success Stories

Santa Ana District Office Success Stories

Husband and wife owned company receives SBA international trade loan enabling them to formulate product recipes for specific export markets, increase warehouse space and hire employees

Santa Ana, CA – Billion Dollar Brows founder Natalie Plain believes everyone deserves beautiful brows, citing their transformative power to change a person’s whole look.  She recounts in her book, The Plain Truth About Brows, how a photo of her with former President Bill Clinton started her on the path of rehabilitating people’s eyebrows.  With the help of an SBA guaranteed International Trade Loan funded by Sunwest Bank, she is one step closer to accomplishing that goal.  The former White House intern turned reality television writer turned entrepreneur recently received a loan that is allowing her company to formulate recipes for its products and tailor them to specific export markets such as Japan, Norway, Finland, Norway, United Arab Emirates, Australia and the United Kingdom, among others.  The company takes variations in skin tone, hair types, local fashion trends, and consumer preferences around the globe into account as it prepares its product formulas, ensuring a successful launch in each different market. 

The SBA-backed International Trade Loan, which features a higher-than-typical guaranty of 90% as an incentive to encourage lending to small businesses engaged in exporting, will be used to purchase inventory for the company, which has been doubling its growth year-over-year each of the last two years.  The loan has also helped the business to hire new employees, such as an executive with experience launching products through large retail chains, and expand its warehouse space.  The company, which relocated from Los Angeles to Irvine about a year and a half ago, expects record revenues this year, and is signing new distributors every month, including recently big box retail giant Kohl’s.

The company got its start with the launch of its first product, Brow Boost, a conditioner for over-plucked or naturally thin eyebrows.  The product proved to be incredibly popular when it was launched, inspiring Natalie and her husband Bob to design other products, including brow pencils, gels, powders, and eventually its patented Brow Buddy tool, which the company has used to recreate perfect brows in salons across the globe, including its own located in Beverly Hills.  Their Beverly Hills salon now pulls double duty as a ‘test kitchen’ for the business, allowing the owners to try out new products, conduct focus groups and listening sessions, and most importantly, get instant feedback from the stylists and end users that use their products.

Area lenders have shown an increasing appetite to finance these types of loans, which can be used by a small business to expand existing export markets, develop new export markets, or even if the business has been adversely affected by import competition and can demonstrate the loan will improve their competitive position.  The proceeds from an SBA International Trade Loan can be used for acquiring, constructing, renovating, modernizing, improving or expanding facilities and equipment to be used in the United States to produce goods or services involved in international trade and to develop and penetrate foreign markets; working capital; and possibly debt refinancing, if the debt incurred is eligible.  Last year, SBA shattered its record for export financing, supporting some $2.8 billion in export sales nationwide.  Any SBA approved 7(a) lender is authorized to underwrite an international trade loan.   

“International trade, especially U.S. export trade, represents an integral part of our nation’s economy.  In 2013, U.S. exports amounted to $1.579 trillion, an increase of 49.4% since 2009 and accounted for 9.4% of our overall GDP.  The products and services produced by innovative businesses in our country are desired around the world and SBA’s International Trade program with its 90% guaranty helps small businesses reach these far away markets.  Billion Dollar Brows is a great example of how a small business can look for customers outside our borders, and work with SBA financing partners to help them expand,” said J. Adalberto Quijada, Director of SBA’s Santa Ana District.

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