Success Stories

Nancy Charraga

            Nancy Charraga is passionate about fair trade imports, preserving Mexican traditions, and working with indigenous artisans.  Nancy came to the US from Chiapas, Mexico. It shows in her business, a Mexican folk art store.  She sells folk art, jewelry, clothing, and party decorations. 

            Nancy started selling Casa Bonampak merchandise at street fairs in 1996. Her business evolved into a storefront at 24th and Mission streets, en el Corazon de la Mision (in the heart of the Mission) in San Francisco. She outgrew the space, and moved her business to a bigger space on Valencia Street.  Her clients have ranged from wedding parties to tech startups.  She offers custom orders, retail, wholesale, and online.

            Nancy got help to improve her business through the Women's Initiative for Self Employment, a Women’s Business Center supported by the U.S. Small Business Administration. She started in flea markets but it wasn’t until she went through the... Read More

Third Generation Keeps Manufacturing in Oakland

Joe Lucasey, an Italian immigrant, started a TV and radio repair shop out of his home, but he wanted to get out of retail.  He started making tables in his garage, which he then sold to local stores transporting them himself in the family’s station wagon.  On a good day, he was home early and the car was empty.  On a bad day, he was home late and the car was still full.

The turning point for the business came when Joe discovered a new niche.  People were stealing TVs out of hotels.  Joe had the solution – the Lucasey lockdown, a combination mount and lock.  A variation of the original device is still sold by Lucasey Manufacturing sixty years later.  Today, under the leadership of Joe’s grandson Chuck, Lucasey Manufacturing is the leader in television mounting systems and customized airport screening tables.

Formerly known affectionately as “Diablo” for the mischief he caused on the factory floor in his first job at the family business, CEO Chuck Lucasey now manages... Read More

Urban Farmers and Young Entrepreneurs

How many business owners get a chance to discuss fiscal policy with the President of the United States at the White House?  Not many.  Nikhil Arora and Alex Velez had the opportunity in November of 2012, along with eleven other business owners.  But how did they get to the level of success that merits an invitation to a tête-a-tête in the Roosevelt Room?

Back in 2009, Nikhil and Alex decided to forego lucrative careers in investment banking and consulting to become full-time, urban mushroom farmers.  Classmates at UC Berkeley, the two were enchanted by the ability to grow gourmet mushrooms on recycled coffee grounds.

“We fell in love with this ‘waste-to-food’ model our last semester,” recalled Nikhil. “We started off with some test buckets in Alex's fraternity kitchen closet and a $5,000 grant from our Chancellor.”

Today that Oakland-based business is known as Back to the Roots and employs 15 employees. “Our vision is to connect families to food through fun and... Read More

Growing a Small Renewable Energy Executive Search Firm into Something Big

“I worked for an executive search firm as a recruiter from 2008 to late 2010 and the firm executed searches in multiple industries. When new searches in renewable energy, would come in, none of the other recruiters wanted to work on them so I became specialized in the field of renewable energy. I fell in love with the people who dedicated their talents to benefit our environment and decided to open my own search firm specializing solely in the renewable energy space,” Carina Whitham recalls.

North Coast SCORE Chapter Chair Richard Adler worked with Carina in 2010 and 2011 in preparation for the launch of her own executive search firm, Whitham Group Executive Search  in December 2010. . Whitham Group recruits and places executives in the arenas of Solar, Wind, Biofuels, Biomass, Geothermal Energy and all other areas of renewables.

Adler outlined what he wanted from Whitham to gauge where she was in the process. “I came prepared with a list of my competitors, sales... Read More