Interior Design Firm Opens Showroom with Help of SBA Community Advantage Loan

Abby Hetherington always knew her career would be something in the arts, as she has an eye for art and design.  Her spunk and self-described ADD-type of personality drives her to think out of the box as a creative thinker.

After high school Abby went to Interior Design school.  Following seven years of applying her interior design skills for a local firm, Abby decided to take it to the next level and go on her own.  Abby Hetherington Interiors started in 2013, catering to her high-end clients, including residents from Bozeman, Big Sky, the Yellowstone Club, and reaching across the nation.  After being in business for a couple years, Abby saw the need to expand her services with a design studio and showroom – a place where her clients could touch, feel and experience the products she was incorporating into her designs. 

Abby began looking for the perfect space, something in downtown Bozeman, with parking and a warehouse feel.  Once she stumbled upon the historical Montana Motor Supply warehouse, she knew it was the perfect space and started seeking financing to open the showroom.  She approached her existing business bank, but unfortunately was short on collateral and fell just below the bank’s requirements.  They referred Abby to Montana Community Development Corporation (Montana CDC), where she ended up working with Small Business Development Advisor Sean Becker. 

“Sean really helped me with my budget and financials, he asked me a lot of questions and made me be honest about potential concerns,” said Abby.    “As an interior designer, I’m very much a right-brained thinker, however when dealing with business and the loan process I’m forced to use my left brain.  It was a challenge, but Sean helped me through all the steps.”

After a lot of back and forth between Abby and the Montana CDC loan committee, she was approved for an SBA Community Advantage loan to purchase inventory and provide working capital for her new venture, The Architects Wife (the design studio and showroom part of her business).  The Community Advantage loan program is a Small Business Administration (SBA) loan program that unlike traditional lending, qualification is not limited by the size of the borrower’s balance sheet, or the amount of collateral involved.  Community Advantage lenders also have access to SBA’s network of enhanced management and technical assistance programs.  Abby has taken advantage of some of these additional services including training grants, QuickBooks and accounting assistance, guidance on POS (Point-of-Sale) systems, and marketing assistance. 

Since opening the showroom, Abby has found that her showroom isn’t just a place for her clients to come, but also a place for other local designers to come and grab pieces for their own projects.  The funky, eclectic building has the perfect feel for the business, matching her design style and providing a lasting experience for her customers.  Abby’s original design firm Abby Hetherington Designs utilizes the back space of the warehouse for offices. 

Abby said she is thankful for the financing she received, as well as the technical assistance.  She continues to work with Montana CDC when looking for additional training, etc.