Alluring Face PDX

From Hobby to Small Business, an Alluring Career Choice

When Kara Thininger switched careers, she happened upon a survey to see whether she would be a good small business owner. The results surprised her, and she quickly found space to sublet from a hair salon in downtown Portland and founded Alluring Face PDX.

Initially, the business was “an expensive hobby.” It was something she loved, but it didn’t make any money.

Kara heard about the Small Business Development Center at Mt. Hood Community College, where she had taken classes previously. Her sublet gave her an excellent location, but didn’t have the visibility she needed to be successful. The SBDC helped.

After meeting with an adviser and attending a class, Kara started developing a new website using the latest tools and social media techniques. Her SBDC adviser helped Kara get the domain name and build the website from the ground up. The added web visibility greatly increased her business.

“Six months after launching the new site, my business doubled,” Kara said. “I wouldn’t be in business today without help from the SBDC and my adviser. I can’t rave enough about the SBDC. I tell people about it whenever the opportunity arises.”

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Gaeta Foods Inc.

With an Eye for Sauce, Entrepreneur Hits the Grocery Store

After Cosmo Salibello’s mother passed away, he decided to honor her memory by making and selling her pasta sauce.

Cosmo had been an optometrist for 30 years and was ready for a career change. In 2014, Gaeta Foods Inc. was born. The business is named for the city on the west coast of Italy where both of Cosmo’s parents were born and where his mother learned to cook.

He uses onions and garlic from Washington and tomatoes from southern California. A combination of herbs and spices gives the sauce a sweet and salty taste with no added sugar.

Before commercially marketing the sauce, Cosmo met with a SBDC adviser to see what it would take to sell his mom’s pasta sauce in grocery stores.

“She gave me the clarity of business sense that I needed to turn a desire into a realization,” Cosmo said.

The SBDC gave him advice on finances and how to acquire the funds he needed for the business, he said.

“There’s so many ways to get stuck, to get put in a bind where you can’t work your way out,” he said. “Having an operation like SBDC has just been invaluable.”

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Rock Dojo

Rocking out to new ideas leads to innovative and successful business

When one of Brian Parham’s guitar students at Matt Dishman Community Center kept cancelling to attend a martial arts class, he got an idea.

In 2015, Brian and his wife, Sophie, launched Rock Dojo guitar lessons. They teach kids ages six to 12 how to play, perform and compose on the guitar using a system based on martial arts. The students are rewarded on their achievements and progress from white belt to black belt by receiving stripes on their guitars.

“As far as I know it’s completely unique and innovative,” Brian said.

When Brian and his wife went to the SBDC, they were “music teachers who had a really good idea.” Now they have a physical product. The SBDC helped them produce the Rock Dojo student handbook, which is a comic book-style guitar workbook for kids designed to teach them how to play guitar in an ensemble, Brian said.

The SBDC is now assisting Brian to rework the Rock Dojo website and helping the business with social media.

“Their services are amazing,” Brian said. “We’re on the cusp of doing great things in our industry. None of it would be possible without the SBDC.”

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Oasis Senior Advisors

Franchise Help from the SBDC

Breanna Nickila had been a stay-at-home mom in Portland for many years when she decided to start her own business in 2014.

She started looking into franchise coffee kiosks and went to the SBDC for guidance. The SBDC recommended she use the online resource FranNet to research franchise opportunities. There, she found the network of Oasis Senior Advisors. A nationwide organization, Oasis provides experts to families seeking senior living options like assisted living, independent living and memory care.

Breanna and her partner purchased the east Portland service area from Oasis. The services they provide are free to families in Clackamas and Multnomah counties.

“The SBDC’s primary role was giving me more options to research businesses and specifically with choosing a franchise,” Breanna said.

The business partners met with an adviser at the Mt. Hood SBDC and took a class to learn how to promote their business on Facebook.

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