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Success Stories


The San Francisco District Office of the U.S. Small Business Administration selected The American Grilled Cheese Kitchen as San Francisco’s 2015 Emerging Business of the Year.

Both Nate and Heidi lost their corporate jobs in 2009 as a result of the Great Recession.  Heidi completed Renaissance’s Business Planning Class in 2009.  They received SBA services through Renaissance’s San Francisco Women’s Business Center and are now mentoring aspiring entrepreneurs and helping other business owners with their own business financials.

Renaissance Entrepreneurship Center is a Bay Area non-profit small business organization providing training and support services to help socially and economically diverse women and men start and grow their own thriving businesses. 

Nate Pollak and Heidi Gibson opened the first American Grilled Cheese Kitchen in May of 2010.  They now operate two very successful locations with 30 employees in San Francisco.  Their stores offer made-from-... Read More

Kelly Hensley

                Kelly Hensley is the owner of Leftovers consignment store in San Francisco.  She works with over 5,000 consigners and currently has a wait list for consignment, which she attributes in part to her prime location at the epicenter of Russian Hill, Nob Hill, and other upscale San Francisco neighborhoods. 

                Consignors leave their goods at her store for sixty days, after which they can either reclaim what hasn’t sold or donate it.  All proceeds are split 50/50 between the consignor and the shop.  The constant flow of new and unique goods gives the store a different energy from a big box store that can be counted on to have the same types of furnishings indefinitely.  Kelly runs her business for two sets of customers, her consignors and her shoppers.

                By the nature of her business, Kelly is able to make monthly donations to mission-based thrift stores like Out of the Closet and Goodwill.

                Kelly also gives... Read More

Kerry Rego

Kerry Rego and her husband were in the process of starting a family, when Kerry decided to start her own business.

What made you want to start a business as an organizer?  How long did you do it? What type of clients did you work with?

My husband and I started our family while we were living in Indio, California and decided to return home to get the support of our mutual families. I was out of work and thought about the types of skills I had that were marketable.

I had excelled at office and personal management in the past and decided to start my own business capitalizing on those skills.  I started my business as an assistant-for-hire and the title and value proposition shifted to organization based on what my clients were asking for. I worked with individuals and small businesses to streamline their physical and digital assets for increased efficiency. I organized homes, closets, garages, filing systems, technology setups, and work spaces. I did that for... Read More

Knotty Hole Woodworks

Tod Detro’s first job was building cabinetry at O’Neill’s Surf Shop in Santa Cruz.  In 1978 he decided to start his own business, Knotty Hole Woodworks. Today he owns a high-end custom cabinetry business in East Palo Alto with 25 employees. 

Many of his employees have been with the company over 25 years.  When he was forced to institute 20% pay cuts across the board during the recession, everyone stayed.  Knotty Hole Woodworks employees not only enjoy a good benefits package, a flexible schedule, a dog-friendly workplace, and retirement options, but they also take pride in the intricate and unique work that they do every day.

Tod and his team supply directly to home owners as well as through contractors.  They have chosen to focus on the building of the cabinetry, working with a network of trusted partners for the finishing and installation.  They don’t need to market as they get all referrals through word of mouth.  Some customers like the work they’ve done for their... Read More