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.”

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

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River Rim Teardrop Trailers

By Malia Durbano Tim Rossiter and his wife Peg, love to camp and hike. They bought a cargo trailer and turned it into a camper. In researching their design, they discovered a “big movement for people who wanted a small footprint.” In March of 2013, they started researching and planning a design for a teardrop camper. Their vision was to create a custom product with quality materials and craftsmanship. The Rossiters met with Joe Keck

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Soundscapes International

By Malia Durbano Ross Barrable an acoustic sculptor attended the Leading Edge for Entrepreneur’s Class offered by the SBDC in the winter of 2010 because, “I wanted to learn about business and branding and how to market my wind harps.” Barrable doesn’t have a store front and recognizes that most of the sales for his high ticket items come by building relationships with potential clients. Barrable creates, “Contemporary sound sculptures, or wind harps, fabricated out

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Enterprise Bar & Grill

Have you heard the story about the entrepreneur who bought a business because she was looking for a job?  Seriously.  She bought a bar and grill in Rico, CO, with no previous business experience.  A year and a half into it she sought assistance from the Small Business Development Center.  This woman took a class designed for entrepreneurs, implemented the suggested practices, became business savvy, and now has a goal to buy the property her bar and grill operates

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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

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Mesa Verde Motorsports

Entrepreneurial blood runs through Jason Spruell’s veins.  His grandparents opened Gene Patton Motor Company in Cortez, CO back in 1970.  The business sold motorcycles, off-road vehicles, snow mobiles and snowblowers.  They also had a service shop.  Jason’s parents, Kelly and Dennis, currently own and operate Cortez Animal Bed & Breakfast which they opened twenty-five years ago.  His brother opened a glass shop six years ago.  “Everyone in the family ran a business,” Jason explained.  “I worked at my grandparents’ shop when I

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