SBA resource partners help small business raise glass to your health
Jenny Watson is a mom who wants to take care of her family naturally. During flu season a few years ago, she found that a recipe she had for elderberry syrup really worked keeping her young family out of the doctor's office and it was delicious to boot--something very important when trying to entice toddlers to drink something good for them. She started making jars for friends and family, then started selling through her Facebook page and at the New Albany, Indiana Farmer's Market. Her kitchen became too small for production, so she rented space at the Mesa Collaborative Kitchen, a small business incubator in New Albany.
The Elderberry Company became official in 2017 when Jenny started cooking at Mesa and registered as an Indiana LLC. She knew that down the road she wanted her own space where she could have a retail shop and a small production facility and knew there were spaces like this available in downtown New Albany. Jenny said her friends at Mesa recommended she contact the business advisors at the Southeast Indiana Small Business Development Center (SBDC) because, "I was a new small business and could benefit from several of their resources."
"The SBDC helped soooo much," Jenny said. My business advisor walked me through basic business financials, which I had never done for my business before. Then she helped me build a plan and incorporate the ideas I was having into my plan," Jenny continued. "I had never done this before either and it really helped me focus because having an idea in your head versus seeing it on paper and how it works into your written plan are totally different things."
The SBDC also helped Jenny find and connect with a local organization that provides funding for new small businesses wanting to open in Southeastern Indiana. In September 2019, they celebrated with Jenny as she opened The Elderberry Company at 302 Pearl Street in historic downtown New Albany.
Since The Elderberry Company's grand opening, sales for elderberry products have skyrocketed. Jenny has hired former beer brewers to brew elderberry syrup and a marketing and retail team to take care of sales and shipping. She has expanded her product line to include honey, gummies and, along with her brewers, is testing new recipes for a potential line of popsicles.
For a lot of small businesses, opening a downtown brick & mortar six months before a pandemic did not have a happy ending. But Jenny said, having the space locked in proved to be very beneficial, even though her walk-in traffic dipped from 35% to 10% of her overall sales.
"Because we're here, we were able to jump in immediately when the business next door moved out," she said. "We were at the point where we needed more production and warehouse space and were considering finding another company to produce our products which we really didn't want to do. Having the space next door and downstairs allows us to keep our store front, produce products, and ship all from the same local place."
With continued growth always on her mind, Jenny said she's excited to continue her relationship with the SBDC and discover new SBA resources like the Ascent program and Emerging Leaders. "It's unbelievable what all SBA has available for small businesses," Jenny said. "I can't wait to explore more!"