Success Stories

Gia Baiocchi is a native of Sebastopol, California but she lived in Hawaii for a number of years after college, cultivating her skills as a business partner and vegan/raw food chef at the world renowned Blossoming Lotus Restaurant.

However, she returned to Sebastopol to start her business – The Nectary – a juice bar serving her own all-natural creations. Gia has over 20 years of experience in Raw and Vegan food preparation, Traditional Herbalism, Ayurveda and Aromatherapy. In the Nectary, Gia has created the perfect venue to integrate and share her diversity of skills and provide healthy offerings.

A true believer of “Food as Medicine”; Gia has made it her life's journey to experience and to explore the synergy between the mind, spirit and body, embracing the empowerment that comes through mindful living. Her experiences and discoveries have led to a sincere passion to share this knowledge and expand these offerings, helping to make healthy lifestyle choices... Read More

Mercedes Hernandez's passion for fashion began when she was about 12 years old and she started modeling and strutting the runway.  In December of 2014 at age 19, Mercedes Hernandez launched Bow N Arrow Clothing, a junior and women’s clothing brand, as a website. While studying at the Santa Rosa Junior College for her certificate in Business Entrepreneurship and working as a waitress, Mercedes had bigger dreams for her women's boutique. Mercedes had worked in retail and retail management for 8 years. Through her experience of working for both corporate and locally owned retail stores, she was able to adopt the skills and knowledge she would need to run her own shop.

She started to build brand awareness by putting together a group of brand ambassadors on Instagram and holding pop-up events at college campuses. After a year of saving, Mercedes had enough to begin the process of opening Bow N Arrow Clothing as a brick-and-mortar.

With the help from the Economic... Read More

2018 San Francisco District Office Small Business of the Year

2018 California Small Business of the Year

Originally from Denver, Colorado, Matt started his career as a public school educator. His professional career then took him to Southern Japan, where he taught English with the JET program. After working for several years in the hotel/hospitality industry in San Francisco, Matt’s memories of Japan and past culinary adventures inspired him to launch his own ramen food truck, Tabe Trucks. This experience provided him with a first-hand look at the ins and outs of operating a mobile food business — and planted the seed for what would eventually become Off the Grid.

Capitalizing on the initial popularity and growth of Off the Grid Markets, Matt has overseen the company’s growth into a scalable experience platform focused on unlocking the value of space through food. Beyond public events, Off the Grid specializes... Read More

Carmen Crotti is the second generation owner and operator of Tommaso's Ristorante Italiano in North Beach, San Francisco. She has been working at the restaurant for 45 years and fills the roles of co-owner, manager, accountant and server. 

The transition to the third generation has begun as cousins Margi and Giorgio have begun to shoulder more and more of the responsibility.  Margi was first brought into the restaurant when she was seven days old, and Giorgio’s mom had made 120 pizzas on her shift the day he was born.

In 1969, Carmen, with her whole family emigrated from Lake Como, Italy to San Francisco. Carmen and the rest of her family (mother and father, Maria and Egidio Crotti, along with her siblings) expressed interest in taking over the restaurant from its previous owner. In September of 1973, the Crotti family officially took over Tommaso’s Ristorante Italiano. They kept the restaurant's name and the same recipes, decor, and spirit for the past 45 years.... Read More