I’m an Iowan. I wasn’t raised on a farm, but lots of my family members and friends were farmers. So, farm culture is ingrained in me. From a young age, I watched my grandma and great-grandma cook Sunday dinners and became entranced. Everyone gardened every summer. We spent days preserving the harvests. I shucked a lot of corn and snapped a lot of beans. We also raised chickens to be used for food. Doing all of this was a group effort, so it takes a village, as they say. Today, the smell of pickling, especially cucumbers and beets takes me right back there to all of it.
What I’m doing with this business is taking that heritage and bringing it to a shop where I can share it with everyone. So many people are now interested in fermenting and canning. They can visit me and ask questions, as well as buy my products. I’m also feeding people my food, which is another passion of mine.
My business is a small restaurant with a retail area. I make vegan wraps and soups, as well as hot sauces, jams, and other fermented and pickled items. I’m located inside NewBo City Market, which is an incubator space for new start-up businesses, many of which are food-based, but also include some retail and service shops.
Last spring, I found myself unhappy and in a job that was no longer a good fit for me. I had been making various jams for friends when it was suggested to me that I start my own business. I was ready to be my own boss. I quickly put together a business plan, with the help of a mentor, and approached NewBo City Market for a space. I left my job and dove head-first into putting everything I had into the new business. Soon after, I was painting and getting the space ready for my new restaurant!
What is the Purpose of This Loan?
I started this business without loans, completely self-funded. Now I’m at a point where I need to grow. I’m primarily looking at adding kombucha to my menu, which will take additional equipment and small wares in order to succeed. Adding kombucha will mean adding more to my ingredient list weekly and require additional time to be spent in the kitchen. There are currently no other vendors selling kombucha in the NewBo City Market (where I’m located), nor are there any artisan kombucha producers in the Cedar Rapids area. Adding this new product to my menu helps diversify revenue streams, as this particular product has the capability to turn into a distributed wholesale item. This will also require additional time and resources spent on a well-rounded marketing campaign to ensure my right audience is targeted.