When Debbie Eggers and Janelle Mikula met outside their daughters’ classroom six years ago, they had no idea they would start a business together. But, while shopping at a local candy store during a family vacation together, Debbie mentioned her dream of opening her own business, and Janelle thought it sounded like a great idea.
A few months and a lot of research later, Debbie spotted a flier in a vacant downtown Gresham storefront and realized that this was their chance. At the time, the City of Gresham was waiving building and licensing fees to encourage growth on Main Street. So Debbie and Janelle got to work.
“Our biggest struggle in getting started was creating a full-fledged business plan. Neither of us had any idea what this meant or how to get started,” said Debbie. “This is where the SBA came into play.”
Debbie and Janelle enrolled in a class for startup businesses at the Mt. Hood Community College Small Business Development Center, where they learned how to write a business plan and received free business advising to help them through the process.
Their business plan was so thorough and well organized, that Debbie credits it with helping them receive not one, but two loan offers through two different banks.
After securing the initial capital they needed, everything else started to fall into place. Before they knew it, their dream of owning their own candy shop came true. iCandy opened on Gresham’s Main Street in July 2011. Despite maintaining their other jobs, Debbie and Janelle, along with Debbie’s parents managed to run the store as they built up their clientele.
Within six months though, it was clear iCandy needed to grow. “I wish we could have seen how successful the store would be,” said Janelle. “We had people passing by, because there wasn’t room in the store for them to wait.”
A year after opening, their booming business and community support encouraged Debbie and Janelle to expand. They doubled iCandy’s floor space by leasing the storefront next to them, and removing a wall. “The community has been so supportive,” said Debbie. “They want us to be here, and it shows.”
“It’s been extremely rewarding to see our hard work go towards something I’ve been a part of building and know the possibilities are endless,” said Debbie. After being in business for nearly two years, iCandy now employees 11, has doubled their sales and is able to fill orders across the country through their website, www.icandygresham.com.