Keeping Oregon on Its Feet One Step at a Time

Julie Derrick at her cash register

Keeping Oregon on Its Feet One Step at a Time

As a single parent working as a community organizer, Julie Derrick realized the demanding work environment prevented her from being the parent she wanted to be. Derrick took on a new job working for a shoe repair shop and discovered a trade that truly spoke to her. After years of mastering her craft under the tutelage of master cobblers, the repair shop she was working for had to lay off its entire staff because of the Great Recession in 2008. Derrick learned that repair businesses can do well during recessionary times and decided to opened JD’s Shoe Repair in 2009 in northeast Portland. After seven years in the same location, Derrick was able to purchase a new location in 2017 but knew she could use some help in expanding her business skills in order to take her shop to the next level.

Solution

In 2018, that help came when Derrick learned about the SBA Emerging Leaders Initiative, a six-month “mini-MBA” executive education course for businesses poised for growth. The initiative provided her with the organizational framework, resource network and motivation required to help the business grow in a sustainable way. The course helped her to re-examine how she approached staffing, professional development and key performance indicators for her business.

Impact

The business that started in a rehabilitated gas station in 2009 has become a local fixture in her new community in north Portland where it supports the idea that beloved and useful items can be reinforced and repaired rather than thrown away. The shop now employs four team members and despite the turbulence from the recent move, is enjoying consistent profit margins thanks to Derrick’s new insights and confidence in managing her business. 

From the Owner

“The Emerging Leaders helped me to recognize the core strengths of my business and identify areas that I wasn’t prioritizing,” said Derrick.  “I think it’s important to take every opportunity to broaden your education so that you can strengthen your business and community.”