Sina Baking LLC’s founder, Jewelie Cordero Schultz, spent her junior year in High School as a foreign exchange student in the state of Minas Gerais, Brazil, the birthplace of pao de queijo. Jewelie loved pao de queijo so much that she learned the traditional way of preparing it during her stay in Brazil, so that she could recreate it upon returning home to Oregon. In the years following her return from Brazil, Jewelie perfected her recipe for pao de queijo, much to the delight of her family and friends. In 2009 Jewelie decided to turn her hobby of making pao de queijo into a business, and Paobread was born.
Jewelie and her Husband Derek founded Sina Baking, LLC in 2010. Their objective is simple: To produce an authentic and all natural pao de queijo (as well as a few of Jewelie’s delicious variations.) Paobread is currently available in Portland area markets. Julie is a recent graduate of Mercy Corps Northwest’s Foundations Business Planning course. Visit Sina Baking, LLC online.
By Benjamin Collier
Our community work would not be possible without the hard work of people like Bill Horton, a Mercy Corps Northwest volunteer for the past year. Horton’s expertise as a small business consultant has made him a valuable member of our team — and a great asset to our clients and the community.
Horton is a small business consultant with BizFix. He came to us with a background in customer service and sales training, skills that matched well with our business education programs. He had changed jobs “on the decade,” even earning his stripes as a small business owner through prior ownership of Port City Pasta Co., a Lake Oswego Italian deli and catering company.
A Natural Fit
When a friend told Horton about Mercy Corps Northwest, the light bulbs blinked
bright. “I thought, ‘That’s what I do!’” he recounted. Because he liked helping
small businesses get started and grow, Horton wanted to find out how he could help.
Before long, Horton was offering tips to supplement our Business Foundations class,
helping teach the class and even expanding the curriculum. By sharing insights from
his own business experiences, Horton gained credibility and rapport with Mercy Corps
Northwest clients. They saw him as one who had walked in their shoes. “When you have
actually done what they want to do, they have a level of trust and confidence in what
you’re saying,” he noted.
Knowing When to Pause
Horton has the real-world wisdom that can help students avoid expensive mistakes.
A successful student, for instance, is not necessarily the one with the flashiest plan.
Sometimes, not starting a business is a better idea than starting it.
“I can help figure out when the idea is just not ready or the timing isn’t right,” he
commented. “If the student can hit the pause button, that’s a success, too – they don’t
go into debt, and they’re not exposed to a lot of other problems.” What he likes best is
giving clients and students the tools to make informed decisions, “whatever that decision
is going to be.”
As Mercy Corps Northwest delivers needed business tools to our community, volunteers
like Bill Horton share credit for the successful enterprises our neighbors are able to build.
Last night we had a very small session focused on refining business plans. We opened up this class just to our most recent Foundations business class participants, who finished up their six-week course last week. Six of them sent in what they had as business plans, and our presenter, Yolanda Karp, read them over and came to the session with some pointed suggestions to help them move forward. She also worked with all of them on how to clearly articulate who they are, what their business is, and why people should buy their products/invest in them/care what they do.
I grilled the participants afterwards about whether they liked this session, because this sort of follow-up is something we want to do more of. As we get more and more people coming to us and interested in our services, we have to figure out some ways to better serve them, even as our staff capacity stays the same. One way is using the skills of volunteers like Yolanda, who participants said was “a very good facilitator“. They said the session was “very very helpful for encouragement, ideas, and support“, they “got lots of good feedback” and they really appreciated “the personalized aspect of this business plan review“. Another idea we’re ruminating on is to do some sort of peer mentoring session, where clients who’ve been through the Foundations process and are further along in their business experience can help people coming in. All six of the students last night said they’d be willing to act as mentors at some point in the future.
So, we’ve got many exciting ideas for our training sessions in the future. We’re going to continue with our seminar program, inviting our local talent to share their knowledge and skills, but also encouraging our clients to share all the knowledge and experience they already know and have. Hopefully we’ll be able to reach even more people in the Portland small business community, and serve them even better.