Success Stories

SBA Loan, SCORE Counseling Helps Grow Family Chocolate Business in Charlotte

Whether you are starting or expanding a business, preparation is key. This is true both for the success of the business, and approaching a lender for financing. The Secret Chocolatier in Charlotte, NC is one such example. The chocolate shop is owned and operated by Andy and Robin Ciordia and Robin’s parents, Bill and Karen Dietz. This family of chocolate artisans began their business in 2008, selling their confections at various farmers’ markets and specialty shops around town. They sold both retail and wholesale. They specialize in handmade truffles, enrobed brownies, cakes (including wedding cakes) and all types of favors.

After two years of operation at different markets, the company sought a Small Business Administration (SBA) loan to build its first retail location. They wanted to increase their professional look to match their products and to grow professionally, personally, and as a family.

Andy observed that potential landlords and banks focused on minimizing... Read More

SBA 2011 North Carolina Small Business Person of the Year

 Karen Caruso, owner and CEO of Mind Your Business, Inc. (MYB) in Hendersonville, NC has been named the 2011 North Carolina Small Business Person of the Year. Karen's entrepreneurial spirit was ignited in 1995 while watching an Oprah Winfrey show with her daughter on abusive child care providers. She decided at that moment what her future would look like. 

Karen's early career was in security, knowing how to conduct background checks. Seeing a gap in the market, she focused on applicant screening services to the childcare industry.  In 1996, Mind Your Business, Inc. (MYB) was launched in the basement of her New Jersey home with two employees and $2,500.

In a field predominantly led by men and large corporations, MYB faced challenges entering the marketplace.  To combat these obstacles, she turned to SBA sponsored mentors.  She has taken classes and received counseling through SCORE, the North Carolina Small Business & Technology Center (SBTDC) and Mountain... Read More