Silver Sparrow Designs

By Malia Durbano

Kristi Smith took a windy road to owning her own business and creating beautiful jewelry. As a young girl, she enjoyed drawing, painting and all expressive, creative endeavors. Upon discovering beading, she began to make jewelry for everyone she knew. In a high school she took a silver-smithing class at the local community college and knew she had found her true love.

Learning that the equipment to get started was very costly, she took the conventional route and got a practical teaching degree. After four years of teaching, she had a baby and wanted to stay home with her. Miraculously, neighbors and friends and former silver-smiths gifted her with tools and a torch and so her business began. “I decided to call my business Silver Sparrow Designs because of my love of birds, sparrows in particular because they are simple and hardy, not flashy, like my jewelry.

But, shares Kristi, “I’m an artist, not a business person. Joe Keck helped me with all the details of running a business, acquiring the licenses, permits, learning about taxes and the difference between being a sole proprietor and an LLC,etc. He pointed me in the direction of lots of resources and helped me write the business plan.”

The business plan was nothing really formal, but it set me in the right direction and got me started. I took baby steps, and very slowly as I began to sell jewelry, I could buy more of what I needed.”

The most valuable information Smith received from the advice and the classes was, “Just that this was possible! I could start my own business. It wasn’t just some unobtainable dream.” Her etsy business took off right away so she didn’t have to get too involved in learning about the marketing aspect of running a business.

“Owning my own business is the hardest and most rewarding job I’ve ever had. The fact that everything falls on me is both a blessing and a curse. If something goes wrong, I’m the one to answer for it and when things go right, as they usually do, I know it’s because of my hard work.”

DaLe Llama Bike Tours

Tony Martin’s business is to go downhill – fast!  His business, DaLe Llama Bike Tours (DLBT), is trending uphill, but their passion is to take people down hills and mountain sides.  DaLe is a play on words for a Spanish phrase meaning “let it rip,” and “go for it.”  Tony leads mountain bike tours to Ecuador for big descents as they ride downhill and single track.  DLBT’s purpose is to shred sick trails, stimulate local economy and share culture.

Read More »
Sunnyside Farms

By Malia Durbano When Holly Zink decided to open her fresh, local and organic meat and seafood business in 2002, she called Joe Keck to learn how to set up a corporation and to “make sure all my bases were covered.” When she moved to her new location inside of Nature’s Oasis in 2007, she realized there were some issues and difficulties with profitability. In 2008, she and her husband, Jesse Villanueba, attended the NxLevel

Read More »
Por Dia Preschool & Learning Center

Amy Long purchased Por Dia Preschool & Learning Center sixteen years ago. Por Dia is licensed to serve up to 60 children. They offer daily preschool, toddler care, and before/after school care. Long approached Joe Keck for help in expanding her Toddler program. Beginning in August of 2011, they worked together for six to eight months. “Joe personally came by my business to consult with me, and we met at the SBDC office at the

Read More »
Mancos Early Childhood Learning Center

By Malia Durbano Many people and organizations came together to bring the Mancos Early Childhood Learning Center to fruition. Ken Charles, with the Colorado Department of Local Affairs, read about the proposed center in the Mancos Times. He contacted Brian Hanson, Superintendent of Schools for the Mancos School District and encouraged him to apply for a Community Development Block Grant to build the school. The grant comes from HUD, the Department of Housing and Urban

Read More »
P.S. Chocolates

Michele White is a lifelong artist who lives out her creative passion.  She transitioned her career as an art teacher and into a self-taught business entrepreneur.  Michele imported clothes and jewelry from Indonesia and sold them at her Satori Boutique, in Pagosa Springs.  Michele sold the boutique after eight years, but continued to import items from Bali as she wondered about her next venture.  On a day when she visited Santa Fe to sell her

Read More »
Bountiful Ridge Farms

Rick Goodall is a second-generation farmer in Arriola, CO, whose family grew apples and raised livestock. He married Gerrie twenty-two years ago. That’s when Gerrie was first introduced to farming. While expecting their second child, Gerrie chose to stay at home to raise the children, but the tradeoff was the loss of a second income. Gerrie considered her options and decided to plant a garden. Her first harvest was plentiful, yet it yielded a tremendous

Read More »