Artisan Eyeworks

Optometrists launch practice with help from SBDC

Kimberly and Michael Hoyt were optometrists at the Medical Eye Center in Medford for many years before deciding to open their own practice.

The doctors launched Ashland’s Artisan Eyeworks, which provides basic vision exams, complex diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions, among other services. The Hoyts strive to see few patients daily in order to spend more time with each individual.

Before opening Artisan Eyeworks, the Hoyts received help from the SBDC. In 2014, Kimberly and Michael were introduced to the SBDC while attending the Rogue Valley Business Resource Forum, Kimberly said. The doctors started attending monthly SBDC presentations and began working with an adviser, who provided comprehensive services.

Their adviser assisted in writing a marketing plan and gave advice on media buying in the Rogue Valley. The SBDC also helped the Hoyts obtain a business loan to help grow Artisan Eyeworks.

“We were able to go into business with confidence as a result of the assistance the SOU SBDC office provided us as we were working on the logistics of opening a business,” Kimberly said.

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Portal Brewing Company

Homwbrewing a Successful Medford Business

Mike Dimon started homebrewing beer with his grandfather in Oakland, California, just after it was legalized in the late 1970s.

Nearly 40 years later, Mike and his wife, Theresa Delaney, decided to make a business out of brewing beer. In 2012, they went to the Southern Oregon University SBDC, where they had help writing a business plan for Portal Brewing Company. They took the plan to a bank and were granted a small business loan.

In March 2013, they opened their pub in Medford.

“It’s so neat, when you start writing your ideas and later you look back and all this stuff you fabricated became real,” Theresa said. “And that wouldn’t have happened without SBDC.”

Mike and Theresa brew the beer in their garden and transport it to the pub in kegs. They’ve made almost 100 different beer styles, from a coconut buckwheat blonde to a peanut porter.

The pub is characterized by recycled furniture, artwork from local artists and a wholesome fresh menu featuring gyros and shawarma, Theresa said.

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Branson’s Chocolates

Moving Chocolate to Siskiyou Boulevard

Deena Branson, owner of Branson Chocolates in Ashland, had worked at Ashland Fudge for 10 years when the shop closed in 2005.

Wanting to save the fudge shop’s legacy, she purchased the recipes and equipment and opened her own chocolate shop only months later.

Now, Deena makes nearly 100 items, including truffles, fudge, turtles, toffee, clusters, caramel sticks, chocolate bars and more. She specializes in custom labeled chocolates, meaning she sells her chocolate bars to businesses and they put their logos on the front.

For the first several years of Branson’s Chocolates, the business operated out of an industrial complex and didn’t have retail space. Deena went to the SBDC in 2011 for help moving into retail. At first, the SBDC helped her write a business plan that focused on wholesale. After finding retail space for the business on Siskiyou Boulevard in 2013, the SBDC helped Deena rewrite her business plan.

“The SBDC actually helped me figure out how to write a business plan,” Deena said. “They’ve helped me understand what it takes and how to project realistic numbers, which I never knew how to do before.”

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