Non-GMO, Pasture-Raised Pork Snack Sticks

Success Story: Missouri

Roam Sticks

John and Holly Arbuckle, owners of Singing Prairie Farm in La Plata, Missouri, own and operate a pig farm. And not just any old pig farm. Their roaming, contented pigs are literally the foundation of the first and only non-GMO, pasture-raised pork snack stick available nationally – Roam Sticks. And they expect a Kickstarter campaign to further develop the brand and recruit more pasture-based farmers.

Born into a multi-generational farm family (he’s a ninth generation farmer), John Arbuckle continued the agricultural tradition, graduating with a degree in sustainable agriculture from Fort Lewis College in Colorado. One of his greatest passions was adventuring. From working as a raft guide on the Arkansas River to climbing Aconcagua, the highest peak in the western hemisphere, and crossing the Chihuahua Desert on a donkey named Milagro, Arbuckle loved to roam the great outdoors.

Fast forward to 2010. Arbuckle settled down with his wife and two kids in La Plata, a tiny community about 15 miles south of Kirksville. An advocate of healthy eating, Arbuckle started thinking about developing a convenience food in line with his passions for sustainable agriculture and for roaming. The Arbuckles wanted it to be a product they would be excited giving to their own kids on family adventures and came up with “Roam Sticks,” because the pigs roam on pasture and the consumer can then roam with a far healthier, on-the-go snacking option.

Not that it’s been a walk in the pasture.  (more…)

Stonework Artist Navigates Business Start-Up Landscape

Success Story: Vermont

VT Success - LB StoneworkIn today’s financial climate, prospective entrepreneurs must be prepared to create a solid business plan if they expect to obtain business start-up funding. But with lenders expecting more and more concise business planning before they are willing to open up their pockets, it is becoming increasingly difficult for would-be entrepreneurs to draft a plan that lenders will accept.

Luke Bonang, owner of the recently established LB Stonework and Landscaping LLC in Weston, Vermont, learned that fact as he sought to turn his passion for stone construction into a viable business. While Bonang is an expert in high quality stonework construction, he knew he needed assistance navigating the complicated landscape of business start-up financing. That’s why he contacted Vermont Small Business Center (VtSBDC) Area Advisor Brian DeClue.

He said he was motivated to start his business after noticing a niche market for “dry stone construction of hardscapes, including walls, terraces, walkways, landscape design and landscaping needs.” “I sought help from Brian DeClue to assist me with my business plan and, specifically, the financials of the plan in order to seek a small loan from the bank for my start-up business,” Bonang said.   (more…)

Instilling a Love of Learning with an Emphasis on Native American Culture

Success Story: Idaho

Tiny Tots Learning CenterBefore starting Tiny Tots Learning Center in Lapwai, Idaho, the Penneys – Bobbie, Santee and Lindsay – came to the SBDC for help with market research and business planning. They identified how to differentiate their business from the competition by remaining open later and accepting drop-ins for a daily rate.

The business opened with an at-home location in October, 2014. The team worked to develop policies, obtain licensing, participate in the USDA nutrition program, and obtain Idaho Stars certification.

Their diverse strengths helped the owners manage the demands of running a new day-care facility in a small town. Lindsay brings past day-care management experience. Santee is an amazing male role model for the young children and serves as the social connector for the business. Bobbie’s background has been valuable in developing curriculum, building connections, examining the financials, and sharing their story.

By March, 2015, they were at capacity with 12 children and a growing wait list. Working with the SBDC, Bobbie presented their business plan to the Nez Perce Tribal Finance Committee, who agreed to lease them a larger facility.  (more…)

CTSBDC and Celebrities Help Propel this Connecticut Cosmetics Business

Success Story: Connecticut

Mizzi CosmeticsWith cosmetic products endorsed by Kylie Jenner and Kate Hudson, Mizzi Cosmetics produces highly sought after, all natural lip balms and scrubs called LipLuxe. LipLuxe products are made in Portland, Connecticut and are already go-to products in celebrity makeup bags. As a result of this worldwide publicity, Brenda Mierzejewski’s business, Mizzi Cosmetics, saw exponential growth. She knew she needed business assistance and came to the Connecticut Small Business Development Center (CTSBDC) via the recommendation of another Connecticut resource, The Innovation Center.

When Brenda first met with CTSBDC Business Advisor Denise Whitford, she introduced her to the business that she created in 2014. Mizzi Cosmetics is a solution to her family’s dry and chapped winter lips. Brenda tried several different lip balms to help heal and soothe, but couldn’t find one that worked. She decided to try a DIY project and make her own lip balm, using natural and organic ingredients such as pure honey, sweet almond oil, lemon and lavender, all in an effort to moisturize, heal and prevent dry, chapped lips.

She gave her friends and family samples, and shortly thereafter they came back asking for more. She knew she really had something that provides numerous benefits for all ages, so that’s when she created Mizzi Cosmetics.  (more…)

2BuyAg – an App Linking Food Buyers and Local Farmers

Success Story: Missouri

Olivia Vann (daughter, left) and Kim Harrison (mother, right), founders of 2BuyAg

With timely advice and guidance from the Missouri SBTDC and other University of Missouri Extension Business Development Program (BDP) services and personnel, mother and daughter Kim Harrison and Olivia Vann invented an online service linking food buyers and sellers, called 2BuyAg. 2BuyAg is free for producers, with buyers paying a nominal percentage-based convenience fee.

2BuyAg firmly believes they are in the right spot at the right time to offer an online marketplace for food buyers to connect with local farmers. 2BuyAg, like many revolutionary ideas, was born of necessity. Harrison and her husband operate Harrison Valley Farms near Fulton, which has been producing and marketing pasture-raised and grass-fed beef and lamb since 2007. They sold to farmers’ markets, restaurants, food hubs, even individual buyers, endlessly driving across the state to make deliveries.

“The wear and tear on our family was just too much,” says the energetic Harrison. “We met ourselves coming and going. And it’s hard to do all the marketing and maintain the sheep and cattle, too.”

She began to think about how the farm could streamline marketing. She also realized her problems were by no means unique; all producers face the same issues.  (more…)