Eric and Naihma Deady are no strangers to rejection.
While they sought a loan to start their new business, The Bike Commuter, Eric recalls “being laughed out of a number of banks around Portland” back in early 2009. “They wouldn’t take a second look at our application.”
Fortunately, the Deadys saw the rejection as just another step on the path to opening their own business. Aside from the long-held dream of self-employment, they had an expected child to motivate them. At the time, Eric traveled extensively for his job; a situation that would soon become intolerable: “I needed work that would let me stay close to my family. I’d wanted to be my own boss for years, so this seemed like the right time to go for it.”
Having ‘wrenched on bikes’ over the years, Eric knew he could offer a richer customer experience; “We believe that there are no dumb questions, and that people can enjoy cycling on any sort of machine. It doesn’t matter if you ride a $100 bike or a $4,000 bike, so long as you’re having fun and living better for it. I didn’t start this business to make a quick buck; I want to share something that brings me great joy.”
That policy of acceptance has become a hallmark of the Deadys approach. The Bike Commuter’s friendly reputation has garnered a growing community of grateful customers. For Eric, “It’s very rewarding to hear ‘My bike has been running better than ever before!’ It’s even more satisfying to help a first-timer or someone with a disability get mobile. Support from customers and the community is validation and vindication of my dream.”
Among all the proud moments, one in particular readily leaps to Eric’s lips; “Getting final word from Mercy Corps NW on financing. That was a great day for us.” At a time when the economy was slowing and credit was scarce, Eric and Naihma had heard plenty of ‘No’ and were left with few alternatives.
In retrospect, Eric is glad that traditional banks rejected his application; “Our chances of success would have diminished greatly. We needed more engagement than a wad of cash and a loan payment. We might not be here if it weren’t for Mercy Corps NW. They helped us avoid some major problems that a bank might not have helped us through. MCNW patiently answered all of our questions, and really held our hand through the whole process.”
An intimate familiarity with rejection now affirms Eric and Naihma Deady appreciation of the value of acceptance, and informs the way they help their growing community of customers.
Find welcoming support for your biking needs. Contact Eric or Naihma Deady at The Bike Commuter at pdxbikecommuter.com or (503) 505-9200
Services at Mercy Corps NW is funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the US Small Business Administration (SBA) All opinions, conclusions or recommendations expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SBA.
Mercy Corps Northwest will be honored to accept two awards from the Small Business Administration this May. The Women’s Business Center at Mercy Corps Northwest has won recognition as the top office in our region (Pacific Northwest). In addition, our own Leslie Bevan, Director of the Women’s Business Center, will be given the “Women in Business Champion” award for her tireless efforts advocating for female-owned businesses.
The Women’s Business Center at Mercy Corps Northwest is responsible for the majority of educational programming, including the Business Foundations Course and evening Business Seminar program. Click here to learn more about the Women’s Business Center.
More than a dozen Oregon companies and individuals will be recognized by the Small Business Administration during SBA Portland‘s upcoming Small Business Week awards gala.
“The small business winners and champions are an incredible group of people and I am honored to acknowledge and celebrate them,” said Robert S. DuCote, acting district director for the agency. “The award-winning lenders provided critical support to hundreds of small business owners and entrepreneurs, doing their part to help stimulate economic growth and job creation.”
The gala runs from 5 to 9 p.m. May 12 at the Oregon Convention Center. For more information, contact Sylvia Gercke at 503-326-5122 or Sylvia.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Winners & champions
Small Business Person of the Year for Oregon: John W. Lavrakas, president, Advanced Research Corp., Newport
Small Business Development Center Service Excellence and Innovation Center Award: Guy Faust, director, Oregon Coast Community College SBDC, Lincoln City.
Entrepreneurial Success of the Year: Travis Boersma, president, Dutch Bros. Coffee, Grants Pass
District Impact Award: Irene Firmat, Full Sail Brewing Co., Hood River
Minority Small Business Champion of the Year for Oregon: Richard M. Inukai, president, Dick’s Auto Sales and Leasing, Hillsboro
Women in Business Champion of the Year for Oregon: Leslie Bevan, manager, Mercy Corps NW Women’s Business Center, Portland…
SoupCycle is a locally owned and operated business that delivers organic soups to homes and offices by bicycle. The concept of SoupCycle began as an assignment while the founders, Jed Lazar and Shawna Lambert, were in their final year of a Masters in Sustainable Business Administration program. Jed and Shauna had heard of a soup bicycle delivery business in Texas that had recently ditched the bikes for the petroleum-fueled option. Jed saw the fate of the Texas soup business as a challenge and thought if bicycle delivery could work anywhere, it could work in Portland. Two weeks after the duo graduated in 2008, the business was launched.
“SoupCycle was about influencing the business and other businesses to start delivering by bicycle and to show that bicycle delivery and lower carbon delivery is feasible. We also wanted to support local and organic farmers. Soup on and bike, it is a simple idea but it does all of that!”
Jed Lazar came to Mercy Corps Northwest and enrolled in the IDA program as they began starting their business. He received expert business advice and guidance from the Foundations Business course and the matched savings plan was essential to their success. “The matched savings allowed us to build efficiencies into our business.” Upgrading from an electric to a gas stove, purchasing more soup delivery trailers, and investing in marketing material and web payment programming were all made possible through the IDA program.
Since the business was launched, SoupCycle has made 25,000 deliveries by bicycle and is in the process of hiring additional employees as the business and customer base continues to grow. Jed Lazar still attends ongoing MCNW business classes and SoupCycle has become a strong member of the bicycle based business community in Portland.
“Mercy Corps Northwest and SoupCycle have opened so many doors and allowed me to interact with the people in this city in a way that I didn’t know was possible. The IDA program helped my small business to flourish despite the recession.”
Joe’s work has the ability to evoke the optimism and conscience of both past and present, and captures the foodie zeitgeist with bright, poignant printmaking. We are proud to have this artist in our local community and amongst our small business students.
About The Victory Garden of Tomorrow (in Joe’s own words)
The Victory Garden of Tomorrow is a self-commissioned poster campaign designed to channel the bold energy of historical poster propaganda. It is committed to civic innovation and social progress– better food, better gardens, better cities. It is artful advocacy for the modern homefront.
In terms of conceptual design, The Victory Garden of Tomorrow is an exercise in blending WPA-era eat-your-peas propaganda with the awe-inspiring 1939 World’s Fair (motto: “The World of Tomorrow”) and its big-vision, world reshaping ambition. I believe the spirit and skills of that old generation lay within us today. We simply need to re-deploy ourselves if we are to shape our uncertain destiny.
Holiday Hair Studio, Portland, Oregon’s First and Only Hair Styling Cart, Opens Its Doors Valentine’s Day
by Robin Carlisle, MCNW Foundations Student
Holiday Hair Studio is a tiny salon tucked inside a vintage travel trailer and nestled into an old nursery, right in the Heart of Portland, Oregon. It is clear that Portland loves carts, so it is only natural that this love grow and evolve. That is why we are so excited to introduce you to this evolution. Holiday Hair Studio! On Holiday you are surrounded by twinkly lights, you sip wine or drinking chocolate and enjoy tiny sweets, while the experienced and talented Robin Carlisle transforms you into the prettiest version of yourself.
Everyone wants to be the first to tell their friends about an amazing new food cart that they found… Well, how about a brand new species of cart all together? The Service Cart. In this new version, not only do you take something away with you, but you get to climb aboard this cart and experience the mystique of it all for yourself. This is different from some guy with a mustache serving you a huge sloppy sandwich that sticks between your fingers and gums up your handle bars. This is a tiny whimsical hair salon with pink damask wallpaper and vintage vanity surrounded by a halo of bulb lights. It is a fully functioning beauty parlor with a shampoo bowl and all! It is everything you would find in a high-end salon, except it is especially tiny and adorable… And private! Clients are given a private session with one of Portland’s best hairstylists… How many Portlanders can say, “If you need me I’ll be in my trailer getting my hair done”? Well, now they can.
As well as being the first cart of its kind, Holiday is a fierce competitor for its brick-and-mortar competition. This place is like a treasure trove of enchantment! With fresh Parisian Macarons baking right on board in a miniature oven, its cute factor is through the roof. But it is also clean, open, and spacious considering the venue, with more room in its single station than in the cattle-stall layout of a traditional salon. One thing that makes Holiday special is that everything is special. There is not a detail that has not been thoughtfully executed. In a space this intimate everything must be worthy. And it is, from the custom-built alder cabinets with leather suitcase straps as handles to the refurbished 1929 seltzer bottle used to serve clients pomegranate spritzers. Everything is deliberate and nothing “will do.” From the environment to the services provided, it is all just a grand stage for beauty to happen.
So, yes, we have said much about Holiday herself offering charm and whimsy… But it is master hairstylist Robin Carlisle who clients are paying to see. With over ten years in her field, Robin has styled for a vast array of clients, including television shows, feature films, local newspapers, Portland’s top fashion designers, and more. Aside from an impressive resume, Robin’s personal clients are some of the most satisfied and loyal customers there are.
Now let’s talk location. All this magic is pretty much smack in the middle of our fair city, located in the heart of Portland, at 116 SE 28th Avenue, between Ash and Pine, nestled into the lush overgrowth of an old nursery. Holiday is in good company adjacent to and sharing the old nursery of Artemisia Gallery and Terrarium shop, which is another of Portland’s unique treasures all on its own, but I must say these two businesses compliment each other in so many ways. The setting for Holiday is incredible. Preceding the cart is a small tea patio and mini pathways winding amidst bamboo and fragrant floral greenery (come springtime that is). There could not be a more perfect location and setting for such a unique display of commerce.
Portland’s latest sensation in nonprofit small business lending has captured the attention and affections of some heavy-hitting business names.
In just 18 months, the Albina Opportunities Corp., working with such other groups as Mercy Corps [Northwest] and the Small Business Administration, has issued 15 loans ranging from $10,000 to $150,000. Its future loans will allow borrowers to collect up to $200,000.
The group, a nonprofit business development organization that provides smaller business entrepreneurs access to capital, averages about $83,000 per loan.
In 2005, I made a five year plan to own my own catering company. I graduated from culinary school in 2007. In 2008 a major incident of domestic violence left me a single mother of three boys. The struggling economy in 2009 led to the loss of my job as a catering chef. My five year plan seemed to come to a halt. I began to look at the food cart movement in Portland as an option to follow my dream in spite of my circumstances. After a good year of recipe development and market research, The Gaufre Gourmet was born!
Greatest Challenges: My greatest challenge is balancing work, family and school. Any startup business requires a lot of time, this proves for difficulty in daily scheduling. It is a great challenge to make sure everyone is in the right place at the right time.
Greatest Reward: My biggest reward is the reaction I get when people try a waffle! Their eyebrows rise in a surprised excitement after they take a bite and then all I hear is mmmmmm! It is priceless.