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Success Stories

SBA 504 loan helps family of farmers secure retirement with new million-dollar farmhouse

LYNDEN, Wash. – John and Dorie Belisle plan to retire in several years and like many longtime small business owners, want to ensure they have a nest egg to fall back on when they hand their 30-acre farm over to future owners.

The owners of Bellewood Acres in Lynden, since 1995, have just about everything you could ask for in a person-friendly farm – 25,000 apple trees with several varieties of apples complete with a u-pick section year round; a portion of land devoted to cucumbers and corn, and a giant pumpkin patch for picking at Halloween.

What they did not have, though, was a massive farmhouse that could serve as a store for their produce and market bistro and bakery, a warehouse, office space for staff, dedicated space for local artists to display their work, or even a distillery.

That all changed thanks to a U.S. Small Business Administration Certified Development Company/504 loan that helped them purchase and build a 14,000 square foot building that they... Read More

By Grace Robinson-Seim, Washington Women’s Business Center

SEATTLE -- Business is going well for Karyn Gold-Reineke, founder of Pirouette, an artisan perfume and natural spa luxuries company based in Seattle.

You’ll find her exquisite line of handcrafted perfumes, soaps and lotions in a number of stores around the area, including Town and Country Markets and Whole Foods.

However, when Gold-Reineke was laid off from her comfortable, full-time job at an art museum at the height of the financial collapse in early 2009, her future was anything but certain.

Encouraged by friends and family members to expand on her soap making hobby, Gold-Reineke initially decided to make ends meet by selling the artisan soaps she had previously enjoyed giving out as Christmas gifts.

She started out with a simple Etsy shop, which she managed while working out of her 325 square-foot cottage home in the woods. When she introduced her perfume line, however,... Read More

SBA resource partner helps winery navigate economic recession, develop new business strategy

By Hope Belli Tinney, Washington SBDC

WOODINVILLE, Wash. – In the sometimes pretentious world of winemaking, Bob and Lauren Bullock are pragmatists who think good wine should be an anytime pleasure.

At Eye of the Needle winery, they buy surplus wine from premium wineries and blend, age and bottle it under their own label in an effort to create a flavorful wine for $10-$15.

"We don’t want to be the Friday or Saturday night wine,” Bob said. "We want to be the Sunday through Thursday night wine business.”

Rapid growth
In 2009, the Bullocks’ startup sold its first 440 cases in 11 weeks. By 2012, Eye of the Needle had three part-time employees and annual sales of nearly 6,000 cases - or more than 60,000 bottles of wine. In 2012, four wines - Harvest White, The Eye, Sangiovese and Syrah - won awards at the Seattle Wine Awards and the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition.

Eye of the Needle is selling six different wines in 159... Read More

SBA, WA state export assistance helps high-tech location sharing firm reach new heights

Bryan Trussel could not believe the deal being offered his company by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and Washington state Department of Commerce. The two agencies gave him a State Trade and Export Promotion (STEP) grant worth $5,000 that paid for his company to travel to Spain and participate in the 2013 Mobile World Congress last February. The grant also assisted in getting contracts for his company’s mobile application Glympse. “(The STEP grant) allowed my small business to play with the big boys,” Trussel said.

Trussel is the CEO and co-founder of Glympse, a mobile service that allows GPS-enabled mobile phone users to share their location temporarily on a web-based map with anyone they choose. The company was founded in 2008 by Trussel and his friend Steve Miller. The former Microsoft employees decided to turn away from the security of a guaranteed paycheck and went to work for themselves. Having started in a basement in Redmond, the two have grown the... Read More