By Susan Rich
Fiona McLaughlin and Aisha Madrone had a dream: provide affordable, high-quality, alternative healthcare to the Portland community…at a price that everyone can afford. Like most dreams-come-true, this one had a few twists and turns along the way.
Three years ago McLaughlin and Madrone launched Seven Star Acupuncture and Apothecary, a clinic focused on the benefits of Chinese herbal medicine. Their services include private and group acupuncture treatments as well as licensed massage therapy, chiropractic care and an onsite herbal dispensary.
“We wanted to provide acupuncture that literally everyone can afford,” said McLaughlin. “People need regular health care to prevent future illness.”
The partners signed a lease on a 2,000-square-foot space at 436 SE 12th Ave. Construction began, then stalled for lack of money. “The renovation cost more than we expected,” McLaughlin said. Banks, sliding into deep freeze mode, refused to loan money.
Then a friend suggested Mercy Corps Northwest. McLaughlin and Madrone applied for, and received, a $13,000 loan.
By Amber Revoir
A Mercy Corps Northwest intern sat down with Annie Maribona, co-owner with Carlee Smith of the downtown Portland boutique Fat Fancy to learn the secrets of their success. As it turns out, a little boost went a long way.
MCNW: How did you find us? And which of our programs did you use?
AM: MCNW was recommended to us by a friend. It has been hugely helpful. We enrolled in the matched savings account program and have attended several of the classes offered. We don’t know where we would be without Mercy Corps Northwest – thank you!
MCNW: Can you tell me a little about what you do? How did you start Fat Fancy?
AM: I had the dream to start Fat Fancy for quite some time. I started it out of necessity. I needed [a store like] Fat Fancy, so I knew there must be other people out there who needed one, too. I started it the only way I could at the time – at home.
The first sale was in my studio apartment. I moved my furniture out, set up clothing racks, turned my walk-in closet into a dressing room, and advertised primarily via the Internet. The first sale was a huge success. People came from as far as 300 miles away to shop, and it was a great time.
From there, I set up shop in a friend’s basement in NE Portland. My business partner Carlee Smith came on the scene shortly after. Together we are a great team. Fat Fancy held monthly sales since December 2007 to raise money to open a permanent retail space. The community has been so supportive of us, attending fundraisers and helping us win a small business grant from Intuit. We have been featured in local, national, and international press and garnered support from underground plus-size celebrities. We opened a dreamy retail storefront in downtown Portland in December of 2009! Come check us out on SW Morrison St., between 10th and 11th avenues.
By Andy Parker
Crouched close to the loamy soil, the two women work as one, their ebony hair shining brilliantly in the midday sun as their four hands move seamlessly across the tidy garden plot rows.
Fifteen, 20, then 30 minutes whisk by and never once do they rise from their work, their motions as effortless as the flights of the half-dozen butterflies riding the warm afternoon breezes across the garden. The women are plucking the little leaves of the mustard plant, one at a time, leaf by leaf, then quickly tying them into small bundles and tossing them toward a plastic tub, their fingers back picking greens before the bundles come to rest.
It’s a mesmerizing, well-practiced rhythm, one of the few remaining signature patterns in lives torn apart by the politics and intolerance of their homeland — the mystical Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan where, since 1990, the Bhutanese majority has forced more than 100,000 citizens of Nepali descent into refugee camps in Nepal.
Last week we ran an advertisement in the June 17 Oregonian, highlighting our connection to our parent organization Mercy Corps and the work we do in Oregon with urban farms, small business development, and prisoner re-entry. The four-page spread was an inspiring collaboration between our staff at Mercy Corps Northwest and Mercy Corps, professional writers and photographers who volunteered to share their skills with us, students working with us in our office, and our clients.
If you didn’t catch that insert in the Oregonian, the full spread can be found on our website. In the next few weeks, we’ll be highlighting some of those great stories here in this blog, starting with the front page story about a group of Bhutanese women working with our New American Agriculture Program.
Tom Howe came in last week and did his website optimization class with us again. We had 18 people come in and run through in three hours how to get rich, search-engine friendly content onto their websites, how to get registered with the different search engines, and how to measure their results. They left with detailed handouts and powerpoint information, and solid steps on how to move forward.
But if you missed this class, don’t worry – we’ve got Tom roped in for another couple months.
100 Ways to Promote Your Business – June 16 (6-9pm)
Social Media Marketing – June 23 (6-9pm)
Website Search Engine Optimization – July 13 (6-9pm)
Successful Selling – July 20 (6-7:30pm)
Social Media Marketing – August 3 (6-9pm)
Top 15 Legal Risks of Business – August 24 (6-9pm)
And remember, all of our upcoming classes can be found at http://www.mercycorpsnw.org/what-we-do/seminars/