SBA Resource Partner Helps Wood Artists Build Bigger Dreams


“Big dreamers” is how Anna and Nathanael Bailey describe themselves. The Baileys are wood artists and co-owners of Bailey Builds. Using SBA programs and services, the Entrepreneur Fund stepped in to keep their big dreams alive when traditional financing fell through during the early days of the pandemic.

Bailey Builds is located in a revitalized 1930s-era gas station nestled in the historic Spirit Valley neighborhood of West Duluth. The shop features handcrafted mosaics made by the Baileys, artwork from over 40 local artists, a gallery, and small venue event space, along with an Airbnb upstairs.

In early 2020, the Baileys recognized that they had outgrown their space and secured a rental workspace for an expanded woodworking shop. However, soon after they moved in, a major roof leak was discovered. That is when a former funeral home went up for sale just a couple blocks away from their retail location. The Baileys worked with a local bank on the financing in early March 2020, however when the COVID-19 pandemic began the bank immediately tightened up their lending and decided against moving forward with the project mere weeks before their scheduled closing date.

The Baileys had an existing relationship with the Entrepreneur Fund from participating in a previous Be Strategic: Grow Your Business class. They reached out and quickly connected with an Entrepreneur Fund loan officer. Together they all worked virtually and at record pace to secure financing through an SBA 7a loan in time for the original closing date during the beginning days of the pandemic.

The business also used the SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan, the EIDL Advance and Paycheck Protection Program funds to make necessary pivots during the pandemic. In 2019, Bailey Builds sold at 12 art shows, this year there are only three and SBA funding has helped the business switch gears to do more local retail and online sales, which requires more staff and infrastructure.

The additional location has allowed Bailey Builds to expand their wood working space to meet growing demand and create designated office space for their expanding team of ten (not including their two shop dogs). They plan to use the additional space in their second location to continue focusing on creating gathering spaces for the community and a local artist collective in the upper level of the building.

 When asked what is next, the Baileys say they are just getting started. Check out this video created by the Entrepreneur Fund to learn more about the Bailey Build story. 

This article does not constitute or imply an endorsement by the SBA of any opinions, products, or services of any private individual or entity.