Aimee Dorman always dreamed of owning a small business, and as a proud Colorado transplant, she knew that she wanted to open an enterprise focused on Colorado-based products. Three years ago she came up with the idea to sell gift baskets and thus, Colorado Gift Company was born. When reflecting on the inspiration for her business, Aimee says, “There are not enough personal connections nowadays. In life people are always pointing, clicking and sending. Maybe I can change that and try to reconnect people with each other by encouraging them to give personalized gift baskets.”
When Aimee initially started her venture, she didn’t know where to start looking for capital to open a functional business space. She went to the Small Business Administration for help, and they referred her to Accion, which was able to quickly provide Aimee with a loan to launch her business. “Everybody [at Accion] has been wonderful to work with and I’ve been able to achieve my short-term goals,” she says. Over the past few years, Aimee has faced funding and staffing challenges but with support from Accion, she’s been able to overcome these obstacles. “It seems like Accion always comes through at just the right time to help me out and move my business two steps forward. When I need something, Accion is there,” she says. Today, Aimee proudly employs three part-time employees and two seasonal employees at the Colorado Gift Company.
Aimee is strongly motivated by other female small business owners and emphasizes that this network of support has played an essential role in her success. She advises entrepreneurs who want to start a business to make as many connections as possible. Aimee also highlights the importance of finding out what resources are available in your area.
Being an Accion client helps Aimee connect with resources beyond her local community. One of Accion’s national partners is the Tory Burch Foundation and since 2016, the Foundation’s rebate program has been committed to supporting female Accion clients who have the courage and determination to start or grow a small business. The Foundation is passionate about supporting women entrepreneurs because women see their businesses not purely as income generators, but as community members with a responsibility to address key social and environmental issues. Through Accion’s partnership with Bank of America and the Tory Burch Foundation, Accion’s women entrepreneurs who make 12 consecutive on-time payments receive up to a 2 percent interest rebate on their loan. Through the support of this fantastic program, Accion has issued a total of $50,275 to women small business owners to date. Aimee was pleasantly surprised to find a rebate check in the mail from the Tory Burch rebate program. She recalls, “The rebate check was very helpful for restocking after Christmas. We were low on a bunch of items and we were able to use the check to reinvest in the business and put things back on the shelves after the mad Christmas rush.”
In the future, Aimee hopes to move her business into a larger location in order to add more product lines. She is proud of the customer connections she has made and the positive feedback provided by her patrons. She gushes, “Almost every customer that walks in the door says, ‘Wow, this is a cool shop! I’m so glad you’re here.’ To hear those words is thrilling and enlightening. It makes me feel like I’m doing something good.”