- Stevonne, Concept Forty-Seven
I have been an entrepreneur for close to 10 years. When I graduated college, I wanted to be a lawyer, but after a few gigs working in law firms I quickly realized it was not for me. Before entrepreneurship I worked in advertising sales/business development. My most significant position was for a music lifestyle magazine publisher in Los Angeles where I learned to hustle in a small business setting and work independently. In LA I also dabbled in the music industry (artists management, A&R) which was super exciting.
I founded Beija-Flor Naturals in 2008 and immediately gained a following online. My first retail store, Concept Forty-Seven, came out of the need for production space for my brand. Eventually I decided to open up the space to a variety of local makers, artists and artisans to sell their goods and hold community events.
This month I opened another shop in the San Francisco Lower Haight neighborhood in collaboration with the leather goods brand Unoeth. This space is a lot larger with a select group of makers.
With Concept Forty-Seven, it has been a blessing to provide an inclusive space for the Bay Area Creative Community. Boutique retail could be cliquish and exclusive to certain makers. I hope that my boutique stores have disrupted that norm while also providing unique and beautiful goods. It is a part of my mission to provide a space for all makers, especially People of Color, to bring their goods to market. I often hire people who are not given access to work in the traditional boutique retail settings, and I also work with local East Bay organizations to mentor and provide job training for youth. With the Beija-Flor Naturals brand, it always makes me happy when a customer comes back and tells me that my products transformed their skin or that they transitioned to an all natural beauty regimen from using chemical store bought products after using my goods. I love that I am able to promote and support the things that are important to me via my business.
I used the Kiva loan to double the size of my Oakland store, hire, and buy from more makers last November. The additional store space has allowed me to host a number of community events that would have not been possible without the expansion. Thank you Kiva!
I was generally surprised at how fast the loan was funded mostly from total strangers all over the world. It is heartwarming to know that people care about small business enough to vouch their own money for someone they do not know.
I believe the City of Oakland was my trustee, and they provided a matching fund for my contributions. This is much appreciated and helped my loan to be funded super quick.
Kiva is an awesome option if you are looking to scale or jump start a project in your business. I highly recommend it.
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