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Alternative Business Financing: How 2 Gluten-Free Friends Baked Their Way to Success

September 13, 2017

Founded in 2012, Nuflours was a bakery created out of passion and of necessity, however, to get to where Nuflours is today was not an easy road to take, as any entrepreneur might relate. Upgrading from a booth at a farmers’ market to a brick and mortar retail space required many things, the most important was capital. With strong financials to back up their request, Phebe Rossi and Amanda Bedell set out to get a loan and begin their small business venture. Their initial best-case scenario was to obtain a loan for $200,000 which would cover a small retail space and the startup costs associated with scaling up their production. Though banks were impressed by their financials, they saw Nuflours Bakery as “high-risk” and denied the request. Rossi and Bedell asked to borrow less, $50,000, just enough to cover a retail space, but again were denied. Rossi recalls, they “couldn’t even get a line of credit.”

Hearing the word “no” has never stopped Rossi and Bedell from going after what they want. When Rossi decided to go gluten free in 2007, she immediately started baking with varying types of gluten-free flours, as well as mixing these flours to try and rediscover her “lost favorites;” favorites such as chocolate chip cookies and pumpkin pie. It took months of experimenting and several failed attempts before Rossi could create new recipes for classic bakes that she would then share with her friends. Bedell’s path to living gluten-free was more “bumpy” as she recalls wasting money on gluten free products that left her cravings unsatisfied and going out to restaurants only left her “to wake up sick and facing another long recovery.” Diagnosed with a form of Celiac Disease, known as Dermatitis Herpetiformis, Bedell “craved her favorite comfort foods,” knowing full well she could no longer indulge in them. That’s when Rossi and Bedell met and instantly realized they were on the same path of discovery: a satisfied gluten-free life. And the idea of Nuflours Bakery was born.

Although initially surprising, Nuflours’ denied requests for a small business loan is not abnormal when compared to the national average of approved loans for women business owners. According to a U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce Policy Brief, February 2017, women account for only 16% of conventional small business loans and these loans account for only 4.4% of the total dollar value of loans in the U.S.

Eventually, Rossi and Bedell got tired of asking banks for loans and so stopped asking all together. Instead, they turned their attention elsewhere and began considering other venues to raise the capital they needed. They attempted a Kickstarter campaign, which unfortunately also fell short. Their passion for gluten free pastries and baked items and a shared dream of a perfect little bakery helped them carry on until they eventually found a solution.

You may be familiar with the phrase “it takes a village to raise a child,” however, have you ever heard of a village raising a bakery? For Nuflours, it truly did take a village as Rossi and Bedell figured out if they cannot get the capital they required from one location, they would seek out smaller amounts from many sources to make the whole. They received numerous small loans from friends and family at low interest rates, their growing customer base also helped raise money, and they found the remaining capital needed from Community Sourced Capital through a crowdfunding option. Nuflours Bakery opened its doors in October of 2014, at 518 15th Ave E, Seattle, WA.  https://www.nuflours.com/

Since their grand opening, Nuflours has found continuing success as it has experienced a 30% growth rate every year and now is starting to take on larger wholesale accounts. Again, Rossi and Bedell are faced with scaling up their operations as they are looking to purchase another facility and additional equipment that will allow them to produce greater quantities, and space to package and ship their product to their customers. Though their business is still considered “high-risk” by banks, the co-owners remain hopeful in obtaining the capital necessary to scale up production, as Rossi states “don’t ever take ‘no’ for an answer…money is just a tool for your business, and it’s important to maintain a steadfast vision for your company’s future.”

There are numerous alternative or nontraditional routes to funding and investing money for emerging businesses that are often unknown to the greater business community. Leading Retirement Solutions is proud to bring you these stories of prosperous business ventures that find success despite the financial obstacles laid before them.

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