Growing up in rural Tennessee, Daven Lee was surrounded by beautiful landscapes and animals. One day, a goat wandered into her yard and it was love at first sight: Daven adopted her and named her Sprout. Eventually, the owner came to collect Sprout and she was taken back to her home on a nearby goat farm. Although Daven didn’t realize it at the time, this encounter would sow the seeds for her small business, Love+Leche.
Love+Leche’s story began when Daven moved to New Mexico. Calling on her childhood inspiration, she bought a piece of property and started buying goats and keeping bees. Daven and her two children enjoyed creating edible and craft goods with goat milk and beeswax, and soon they were creating such an abundance of products that she was able to start selling her handmade items at the nationally known Santa Fe Farmers Market.
While Love+Leche started out as a passion project and a way to supplement her income, as a single parent, Daven recognized a vital opportunity to expand her business. She dreamed of taking Love+Leche to the next level with professional branding and packaged products and knew that she would need financing to make this dream a reality. Another local small business owner recommended Accion. “Accion was the first place I went and I had this incredibly positive first experience,” said Daven. With a loan from Accion, she was able to move her business out of her house and into a real workspace. “I feel so much support from Accion, they track my business, they are proud of my business and they are interested in how it’s going.”
Being an Accion client comes with a community of support, both locally and nationally. One of Accion’s national partners is the Tory Burch Foundation and since 2016, the Foundation’s rebate program has been committed to supporting Accion women 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.
Daven Lee is one client who has benefited from this program. “I just returned home from an actual vacation, a challenge for any entrepreneur, to find this check from Accion. I just want to express my heartfelt thanks for this surprise reward. I so appreciate my long-term relationship with Accion, and the vision they have for supporting small business entrepreneurs,” Daven said. The rebate from the Tory Burch Foundation not only helps support Daven, but also her two children and her five furry goats.
Today, Daven has two part-time employees who manage production and fulfill orders. She takes great pride in being a small business owner and in the quality of her products. Daven reflects, “People tell me that my products have helped their children’s skin to the point where they don’t have to take their medications anymore. The product that I’m making is very simple but there also seems to be a kind of magic that happens that’s beyond me that’s very beautiful in terms of how it affects other people.”