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Success Stories

August Ink

Taking the leap into entrepreneurialism happens for many reasons and takes you down many roads, as Andrea Daniel has learned. After leaving a full-time job, Andrea decided to begin selling pillow covers on the handmade goods site Etsy, while searching for a job in an unstable economy. Despite a bachelor’s degree in math and a master’s in public administration, she had trouble finding employment. At the same time, what began as a creative outlet to fill the gap turned in to a business that she could do for a living. Her first business saw early success, but it wasn’t established correctly, which led her to the Larimer Small Business Development Center (SBDC) for direction.

In February of 2014, she hit the reset button and took another running start at business ownership by registering August Ink, selling custom screen printed t-shirts online. Her reasoning for the product shift was, “Pillow covers are fun, but everyone loves t-shirts.” The SBDC was helpful for her to have accountability and a consultant to bounce ideas off of. “The SBDC helps put my business into a framework. I understand why I should make the decisions I do for my business, and working with my consultant helps me set goals.”

To start over as a business owner is difficult, but Andrea sees that as part of the challenge of business ownership that she enjoys. Day-to-day tests like having enough time and doing it all on your own are always there, but “I love the problem solving that comes with owning a business,” she says. Knowing other business owners has been a huge asset as well, not only for partnerships and collaborations, but because starting a business can be lonely.

Since opening August Ink, she has expanded beyond t-shirts to begin offering tote bags, printed artwork and drink koozies, one of which was featured on BuzzFeed that gave her a great confidence boost. Her products feature inspirational messages and are her creative outlet that communicates her optimistic view on life. “I struggle… It’s a good struggle and it’s so worth it. At the end of the day, you’re putting yourself out there.” When you look through her store, you can see little bits of her personality, from a love of the Fort Collins community, to quotes from the show “Parks and Rec” and author J.R.R. Tolkien.

For now, her business is based out of her home studio, where she handles everything from design to printing to shipping, but Andrea is excited for what the future will bring for her business. She is especially excited about the possibility of opening a retail store front to contribute to the vibrant Fort Collins business community, as well as hiring her first employees. “It’s an exciting time for women and entrepreneurs. You’ve got to make your own way, and when you do, you can do awesome things!”

Rain Boutique

Opening Rain Boutique, a shop featuring refreshingly wearable clothing with a sprinkling of unique gifts and housewares, took a lot of guidance. That was when Kristin Mouton turned to the Larimer County Small Business Development Center (SBDC) for practical advice. “My counselor at SBDC really kept me going and gave me a lot of reassurance, even after I had been turned down by two banks for a business loan,” said Mouton. Mouton started with an

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The Magic Bus Tours

Fort Collins has an amazing amount of things to see and do. No business, however, had offered a service as fun and forward thinking as Magic Bus Tours to create a unique and educational experience around the local activities. “When I first started visiting Fort Collins, I loved learning about the local history, lifestyles and culture, but I couldn’t find another bus-tour service in town,” said Michael Murphy, founder and visionary behind Magic Bus Tours.

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Clay’s Ace Hardware

In 2014, Tim and Julie Kenney purchased Clay’s Ace Hardware, a mainstay of south Fort Collins since the original owners, Jim and Lisa Clay, started the store in 1998. Tim and Julie felt the entrepreneurial call, but did not necessarily want to start their own business, so they began looking for businesses to purchase. Their focus rested on a brand that was recognizable, and an existing business that had a culture built around service to

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Java Raiz

Need a quick boost of healthy energy? Java Raiz can save your day. Made with organic Flame raisins grown in California and 100% Kona coffee from Hawaii, Java Raiz is a healthy treat you can take anywhere. The ingredients are simple, but extremely good for you. Organic Flame raisins are made from red grapes, which include more antioxidants than a typical (Thompson) raisin. Kona coffee beans are grown in volcanic soil, which provides many more

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The Fox and the Crow

What do cheese and art have in common? Both excite the pallet and have rich stories, according to The Fox and the Crow owner Tina Mooney, a cheesemonger and art history major. The Fox and the Crow brings artisan cheeses and meats to mid-town Fort Collins. They understand that the world of artisan cheese can be intimidating and have crafted their shop to welcome people who may stumble in serendipitously. Little signs like: “We cut

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Pateros Creek Brewery

When Steve Jones of Pateros Creek Brewery began the journey to turn his passion for brewing beer into a business, he may not have predicted just how long that trip might take. Much like a raft trip down Pateros Creek – an early name for the Cache la Poudre River – the route from concept to selling beer had a few obstacles in store. After trade marking a business name and announcing it, another local

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