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Success Stories

Sustainable Chicken products find success in Santa Rosa and beyond

     Jennifer Johnson and Serafina Palandech created Hip Chick Farms as a natural extension of their love of food, family and their desire to provide family-friendly solutions for lunch and dinner.

     Johnson is the Chef and Chief Operations Officer for Hip Chick Farms.  She has a real passion for cooking and is a perfectionist in the kitchen. Johnson has worked with great chefs, such as Alice Waters at Chez Panisse. For the last ten years, Johnson has served as the Executive Private Chef for Ann and Gordon Getty. When Mrs. Getty started a Montessori school in her home, Johnson’s role expanded to cooking a family style lunch for 25 children every day.  The kids in the school loved her food, and when they went home at night, they would ask their moms for Chef Jen’s chicken fingers.  The moms in turn started asking Jen for her products.

     Palandech, the President for Hip Chick Farms works closely with Sonoma County farmers to support the local economy and ensure... Read More

Succession and Success go together for African-American Family-Owned Technology Firm

In 1995, Frank Tucker realized his lifelong dream to become an entrepreneur.  Today, Tucker Technology, Inc. is a full service telecommunications and information technology contractor employing 48 workers. Tucker Technology provides engineering, installation and maintenance of structured cabling solutions for a wide range of telecommunications cabling infrastructure projects and offers contract and project based staffing.    

In 1996 in the process of starting his business, Tucker heard from friends about the SBA 8(a) Business Development Program, a business assistance program for small disadvantaged businesses, which offers a broad scope of assistance to firms that are owned and controlled at least 51% by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals.  Under the Small Business Act, certain individuals are presumed socially disadvantaged: African-Americans, Hispanic Americans, Asian Pacific Americans, Native Americans (American Indians, Eskimos, Aleuts, or Native... Read More

SBDC assistance crucial to firm’s Success

Every morning, Robin Cunningham is at the computer studying Euro exchange rates. She’s a small business owner, not an international economist, but the fluctuation of the Euro has a direct impact on the French soaps and lotions she makes in France and imports to the U.S.  

Cunningham, the owner of La Lavande Fine French Soaps in Richmond, has used the services of the Contra Costa SBDC for over 10 years. When she owned a retail store in Walnut Creek, an SBDC consultant counseled her on lease costs. Another SBDC consultant worked with Cunningham on business ratios, inventory, marketing, HR and the importance of reading useful business books. When the constant work of running a retail store and a wholesale firm proved to be overwhelming, SBDC consultant Randy Shores advised Cunningham to concentrate on the wholesale side and recommended a strong web presence to attract a variety of customers. He also suggested systems to track inventory and shipping orders, and how to set... Read More

Thank You, SCORE

San Francisco—You walk into Akimi Hair Gallery on Kearney Street and immediately feel at ease. The spacious hair salon three floors above the street is cool and elegant, just like the owner, Carolyn Luu. A former architecture student, Luu knows style and practices it every day through the services she provides to her loyal customers, some of whom have been with her more than 20 years.


A native of Vietnam who fled the country as a child in the late 1970s, Luu and her family arrived in San Francisco via Utah in 1980 to begin a new life in America. She attended Mission High School where a counselor suggested cosmetology as a potential career. Luu took classes at a San Francisco beauty school and later attended San Francisco City College with the thought of becoming an architect.


“After working at a couple of hair salons,” said Luu, “I realized I wanted to be in the hair business full-time.”


... Read More

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