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Local Creative Minds Named 2016 SBA Washington Millennial Entrepreneurs of the Year

Release Number: 
SDOPR 16-11
Advisory Date: 
Thursday, April 28, 2016
Matthew Williams (206) 553-7315
Graypants Owners Receive Top Honors, Celebration Recognizing Winners May 4th at Museum of Flight, Boeing Field

SEATTLE - The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) 2016 Millennial Entrepreneurs of the Year are Seth Grizzle and Jonathan Junker, owners of Graypants, a Seattle-based architecture-based firm started in 2007 that is known for their diverse portfolio of both interior and exterior design and product design with sustainability and recycled materials; as well as their signature product, which is also what got them started: The Scraplight.

The Millennial Entrepreneur of the Year award recognizes business owners under the age of 35 who demonstrate a history of success, show increased jobs and innovative or creative business methods, and exhibit potential for future growth.

“We actually entered a competition to design four sustainable chairs, we literally went dumpster diving to find the products to create these chairs out of,” Junker explains. “We had them all set up and were so excited to show off our creation. We, almost as an after-thought, threw together this little light made out of cardboard. When everyone came over to our exhibit, no one even noticed the chairs, they were so fascinated by this light we had made; and we realized we had created a cool product.”

“They are a business that invests in their community, truly cares about the environment, and teams with other local business owners to create; and that’s an amazing thing to do,” said District Director Nancy Porzio. “They have such a strong passion behind what they do, it is very impressive how much these young men have accomplished.”

Their Seattle studio provides local production for North America and houses a custom and prototyping shop.  In 2012, the Amsterdam studio was founded and is a hub for European production and distribution, allowing them to distribute to over 40 countries.  The company has created 40 jobs in two countries including a number of people with mental and physical disabilities.

Their client-base ranges from local small businesses to international accounts with companies like Amazon, Apple, Microsoft and Starbucks.

Junker said it’s an honor to be recognized for their success as entrepreneurs.

“We were so excited to receive this award,” said Junker. “It’s the first award we have received that’s been about the business side of what we do, and it’s really special to hear how well we are running the business side of things.”

“National Small Business Week is a time to recognize the impact small businesses has on our country,” said Regional Administrator Calvin Goings. “It’s a chance to celebrate the dedicated, hard-working small business owners who are making a difference in their communities.”

Each year since 1963, the President has issued a proclamation calling for the celebration of National Small Business Week. SBA recognizes outstanding small business owners for their personal successes and contributions to our nation.