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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!”

Wordsmith Wood Shop

Loveland area couple Gib and Lisa Coalwell made a few wooden boxes decorated with sayings but a large order put a toll on their small laser engraver. The owners of Wordsmith Wood Shop needed to hire staff, get three more engravers and quickly learn manufacturing on a large scale. The couple blends handcrafted wood and engraved words to create heirloom boxes, bookmarks, recipe cards, coasters, magnets and cutting boards for their wholesale, retail and individual

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Blue Pine Construction

Blue Pine Construction is based in Wellington, and run by the husband and wife team of Mike and Lorilyn Bockelman. Their company does home  construction/remodeling, and a variety of outdoor “decking” projects, throughout Northern Colorado. Mike’s construction background, combined with Lorilyn’s retail management experience, makes for a productive combination. They have grown the business significantly over the last few years. Blue Pine Construction now has 10 full time employees, including a new production manager. Mike is a Air

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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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Colorado Camper Van

When Derek Weber customized his first camper van in his garage in 2009, he didn’t anticipate his neighbors begging him to build one for them. “I wanted to spend my time camping, not building more vans”, Derek jokes. But he recognized the opportunity, put some photos on the internet, and customer interest exploded. Today, Colorado Camper Van (CCV) does over $4 million in annual sales and employs over 40 people at its Loveland plant. CCV’s

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Rodeo News

Siri Steven has a passion for life, a desire to educate, and a work ethic and determination that have made Rodeo News the successful, nationally recognized magazine it is today. “This is the culmination of all of the things I have learned in 40 years.” Good friends, life circumstances, and hard work brought Rodeo News into her life, and she has devoted herself to its success completely. After getting her start working on the publication

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Jimena Peck Photography

Jimena Peck is a native of Argentina, who has built a vibrant photography business. “I do mostly editorial work that helps tell a story. I also do food photography and portraits. My style is clean, simple, and especially features natural light. I sometimes travel to remote sites for the project.” After earning a Journalism degree in Argentina, she moved to Holland and began doing photo shoots for the digital marketing platform of a specialized shopkeepers

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