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Success Stories

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 idea and a name – Rain Boutique – first visualized while enjoying a summer shower. When a few of her favorite shops in Old Town Fort Collins closed, she started traveling to Flatiron Crossing in Broomfield to shop at stores that suited her style. While speaking to shop owners at the mall, Mouton learned that close to 40 percent of patrons at Flatiron Crossing were also traveling from northern Colorado for the same reasons.

Mouton took several classes at the SBDC, including Know Thy Numbers: Basic Bookkeeping; So You Want to Start a Business; I Need Financing, What Now?; and Credit Card Processing. Then she started working with Andrea Grant, her counselor, to build her business plan, find a location, secure financing and procure inventory.

Mouton came back from her first buyers’ fair so excited about the merchandise she saw but a little overwhelmed as well – there were 3,500 different brands and suppliers with many products not available in Fort Collins. Within a few days of returning from New York, Mouton received loan approval. She was on her way to achieving her dreams.

“Once I found the right space, I started working on store layouts, finalizing inventory and renovating the space,” said Mouton. “I found going to buy apparel complete madness, especially when I had to stick to a budget, but it was so much fun to finally see it all come together.”

Overall, Mouton says that having a great support system – through friends, family and the SBDC – really made a big difference.

Clean Bees

Clean Bees Homekeepers Cleaning Up! When Katie Straubel moved from Florida to Colorado in 2001, she took a job doing house-cleaning to make ends meet.  Eight years later, she earned a history degree from CSU, while continuing to work in the cleaning industry. Today, she is the proud confident owner of Clean Bees, a Northern Colorado cleaning company with 35 employees and over $1M in annual sales! Katie says “I worked in the restaurant business,

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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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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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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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Spidertrax Off-Road

Thom Kingston helped start Loveland-based Spidertrax Off-Road not in a garage like some startups but in a fully equipped shop at the New Jersey Institute of Technology. In 1999, Kingston and his former partner and co-founder, Eddie Casanueva, initially snuck into the school after-hours to develop and manufacture parts for the off-road industry until they got official approval and could work during the daytime. “We were manufacturing all of our parts, using the tools of

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Branch Out Cider

The idea for Branch Out Cider, a community orchard that produces apple wine from neighborhood trees, began with one special apple tree. When Aaron Fodge and Matt Fater sat down to discuss their business and share their story, they were quick to point out the lush, flowering apple tree in their neighborhood that started it all. “The tree was loaded, so we made cider with it!” That was the first year. The next year they

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