Monday, May 8, 2017

ChamGlam Botanika: Infusing Local Herbs and Flowers into Eco-conscious Beauty Products

ChamGlam Botanika products: PC - Jess Merrill
ChamGlam Botanika is owned by Ursula Herrera and PJ San Nicolas, who have extensive experience in herbalism and agriculture.  After 13 years in Seattle, Ursula decided to return to Guam and learn more about the plant medicine of her MotherIsland. Upon returning, she quickly immersed herself in the perpetuation of åmot Chamoru. She aligned herself with the Håya Foundation, which is a local non-profit organization that focuses on perpetuating the traditional plant medicine of Guam and the Marianas, and began her beloved apprenticeship with local herbal healers, suruhånu/a (yo’åmte). Being a lover of all things holistic and nature based, making local infused flower oils and flower tinted lip stains became an avid interest. By combining her expertise of plant medicine and love of luxurious eco-conscious beauty products, ChamGlam was born.

PJ San Nicolas received his B.S. in Tropical Agriculture in 2015. He has also been working with the Håya Foundation as its nurseryman for their medicinal plant inventory. He has always had a strong entrepreneurial desire to own his own business. He also uses his experience and knowledge in purchasing farming land and engineering a design to grow ChamGlam’s ingredients locally. They have a two year old son named Ifit. He loves cookies, kådu, and picking flowers for Mama.

Why did you decide to start your own business?
We decided to start this business because we want to provide luxurious, eco- conscious botanical skin care using the plant essences found here on our beautiful island. Accessibility of organic skincare products to our local consumers and a fair trade sourcing of plants is important to the health of our community. In the end we harvest local herbs and flowers to create a product that our consumers can trust. Farm-to-Face.

What experience do you have in this type of business?
I have a BSc. in Herbal Science and a love for wild crafting plants and formulating medicinal tinctures and tea blends. Making lip balms, hydrosols, and infused body oils was always a side hobby. We can have the best of both worlds, eco conscious beauty products and embrace current beauty trends, without compromise. Green beauty means a cleaner lifestyle as nature intended. From skincare to foods, we must care for our island sustainably for future generations. By nourishing ourselves, we can then nourish our community.

Owners PJ San Nicolas and Ursula Herrera
How did the Small Business Development Center and other resources help you?
They helped us focus our ideas and streamline the whole process. They were never intimidating. After each class, we felt our dreams becoming a reality. Empowering, really! Denise Mendiola and the GUMA team made themselves available to answer any questions we had. Their guidance and valuable advice helped quell any doubt and gave us the confidence to make our dreams come to fruition.

What was the start-up process like? How did you fund your business?
We participated in the GUMA (Guam Unique Merchandise and Arts) Program in January 2016, which lasted 12 weeks. Together with SBDC, GUMA mentored us to create our business plan and business model. They helped shape our ideas and conceptualize the final product. We made it through to GUMA’s version of ‘shark tank’ and through the GUMA Program for cultural producers, ChamGlam Botanika got funded.

What were some of the biggest challenges/experienced you experienced in the start-up process?
Self-doubt. But every Saturday, we were re-inspired. We were surrounded by amazing artists who were just as committed and so encouraging. The camaraderie and inafa’maolek spirit won. There was no room for self-doubt. Only ways to become better. There were times when the whole process was intimidating and daunting, but the hands on experience and the guidance received was immeasurable. There were no wrong or dumb questions. SBDC and GUMA reiterated that even if you didn’t make the incubation program, you’d still be able to take your business plan to a bank, CONFIDENTLY!

What is your most memorable triumph in your start-up process?
There was this one team exercise where I was able to actually see the concept that lived in my head, come to life. It was illustrated so beautifully by my classmate Amber. I was so emotional! The design concept changed and evolved since then, but it was at that moment that I knew that this daydream was going to come true. Oh and the day we got the call that ChamGlam Botanika was going to get funded! Yay! We made it through shark tank, or dolphin tank!

What are your short-term and long-term plans for your business?
Short term- Getting the word out to our local community that we have an eco-luxe product. We want to provide our community with nontoxic alternatives to everyday beauty products, and be the inspiration to making cleaner and greener choices.

ChamGlam Botanika products: PC - Jess Merrill
Long term- Creating more skincare products to fit our eco conscious lifestyle and needs. Guåhan’s healing flora has a place in the green beauty world. ChamGlam aims to showcase our eco paradise life beauty internationally.

What advice would you give to others who want to start a business at this time?
This all really started with a daydream. If you wake up every day thinking of owning your own business and it consumes you, do it! Our island has so much amazing talent and inspiring ideas. Don’t hold back. We need to invest more into our local economy. Supporting local is the best way we can ensure a sustainable

Guåhan for our nenis. Invest your amazing ideas into Guåhan. We have the resources right here on our beautiful island to guide you. Make your daydreams come true!

You can find ChamGlam Botanika products at the GUMA Gallery in Chamorro Village from Monday thru Saturday between 10am – 6pm, Wednesdays are open until 9pm; and Sundays from 10am – 3pm.

Friday, March 24, 2017

FJ Green Tech Owner’s Motivation for Self-Employment


People start businesses for many reasons whether it is for self-fulfillment, pursuing a passion, or providing a needed skill or product. It can also be a combination of many reasons or like John Johnson, it is a plan for after retirement. Johnson will be retiring from the military soon and to supplement the potential loss of income and to support and sustain his lifestyle after retirement, he decided to start a business. In his previous work experience, he worked in the federal government and for a golf course which involved landscaping and general maintenance. This gave him the idea to open FJ Green Tech. The company specializes in lawn care, tree pruning, edging, hedge trimming, weed control, water blasting, light metal fabrications, and equipment rental. 


For Johnson, the start-up process “was actually very easy.” He did some research online and found the SBDC through a friend. He registered for a few classes and learned how to manage a small business, write a business plan, and a financial plan. Some of the SBDC workshops involved the Small Business Administration (SBA) on how business loans work. Johnson stated that even after attending the workshops, SBDC was always available to answer his questions that he didn’t understand which helped him put things into perspective. He continued on to say that the SBDC Business Advisor was able to direct him to the right people and assist on finalizing his financial plan. It took him less than a week to turn in his loan application and get approved to start his business.

One of the challenges Johnson mentioned is the actual preparation of the financial plan, but credited SBDC on their assistance and guidance to make the process manageable. He did name that setting realistic goals and doing the research on the equipment needed was the biggest challenge he faced. Although Johnson’s company is just a couple months old, his triumphs include maintaining repeat customers, breaking above even, and securing his first contract with a government agency. FJ Green Tech aims to acquire a few more government agency contracts within a year and eventually in the long-run, have this business as his main source of income and possibly open another business venture.

John Johnson is a father of two children and is married to Desiree Johnson.  To entrepreneurs, Johnson says, “Be persistent, stay motivated, and focus on your goals.” To learn more about FJ Green Tech’s services, you can visit their Facebook page or call 487-0019/9408. 

Friday, March 17, 2017

Kosrae SBDC Welcomes New Business Advisor

By: Skiller Jackson
Center Director/Business Advisor
(Kosrae SBDC)

Ms. Emily Sam O’Steen joined the Kosrae SBDC as the new Business Advisor on the first week of October 2016. M. O’steen worked for the Kosrae government as a student intern with the FSM Finance for three months and joined the Division of Statistics as a Census Enumerator for eight months. She also worked at the Department of Education, Kosrae State as a classroom teacher for five years.

Ms. O’Steen left Kosrae to join her husband who was recruited for the US Armed Forces in 2008. She was hired by the AAFES Exchange in Fort Hood, Texas as a sales clerk. After her husband’s medical retirement with the US Military around June 2013, Ms. O’Steen came back with her family to Kosrae where she started working for the Kosrae State Government.

On October 2016, Ms. O’Steen was hired by the Kosrae SBDC as the new Business Advisor.

With the knowledge and skills that Ms. O’Steen brought with her to the Kosrae SBDC, we are fortunate to have such an asset to help the Kosrae small business community. 

Friday, March 10, 2017

LCM Pharmaceutical Now Open: Palau’s Only Independently Owned Pharmacy

By: Ltelatk Fritz
Center Director/Business Advisor
(Palau SBDC)

Owner Clarette Matlab
LCM Enterprise dba LCM Pharmaceutical became Palau’s only independently owned pharmacy as its doors were officially opened for business on Saturday, January 28, 2017. The owner, Ms. Clarette Matlab, is a full-time, licensed pharmacist who has been working at the Belau National Hospital for 20 years. She began her career as a nurse before moving into pharmaceuticals. During her eight-year tenure as a pharmacist, Clarette saw a need for better access and options for medications in the local community. Many times, patients are unable to get their prescriptions filled because of the shortage of supply at the national hospital. With the opening of LCM Pharmaceutical, Palauans have access to another source of affordable prescriptions.

She first approached Palau SBDC seeking assistance to start her business in 2009. It has been a long process of working out details for a business plan, which is often required for business (commercial) loans at both development banks—like NDBP—and commercial banks—like Bank of Guam, Bank of Hawaii, and Bank Pacific. Palau SBDC provided one-on-one counseling with Clarette to help refine her business plans and financial projections. Along the way, Clarette encountered many challenges in the planning process such as finding the right software—for the business and pharmacy operations—and establishing financial projections for her start-up company. However, Clarette acknowledged the importance of planning it out on paper and anticipating potential costs/issues and addressing the issues before starting the company, because trying to run a new company and dealing with problems at the same time will be overwhelming on the owner.

Clarette opened LCM Pharmaceutical/PacifikaMed Pharmacy to provide quality medicine and personal health products at affordable prices. With the technical assistance from Palau SBDC, Clarette was able to complete a comprehensive business plan and detailed financial projections for her loan application package with the N

ational Development Bank of Palau. Clarette was able launch LCM Pharmaceutical/PacifikaMed with her savings, a loan from NDBP, and in-kind assistance from friends and family. 

LCM Pharmaceutical/PacifikaMed created four new jobs in the local community. Some of the challenges Clarette encountered during the long process is getting things done on time (especially working full-time), figuring out the financials, and sticking to her commitment. Eventually, Clarette plans to include other health services such as diagnostic laboratory services and counseling services—lifestyle (NCD) support.

LCM Enterprise doing business as LCM Pharmaceutical/PacifikaMed is located at Meketii hamlet in the old family bakery. Business hours are Monday – Saturday from 9 am to 6 pm.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Custom Fitness


Custom Fitness is a functional fitness facility and physical therapy clinic. Some of the services they offer are cross-fit kids’ classes, cross-fit classes, teen strengthening and conditioning classes, as well as personal training, yoga and mobility. 

"When we decided to open Custom Fitness, we really had no idea what we were doing. None of us had ever done anything like this before and were basically leaping head first into something completely unknown and we happened upon Denise Mendiola at the SBDC. She really guided us along the way, helped us develop our business plan, and develop financial models that we could present to the bank. She basically gave us the rundown of what to do. All we knew was that we wanted to open a business and we needed money to do it and a place to open it and we had a dream and a goal and we just needed help nurturing that.” – Samantha King Sablan 



“If I had any advice for someone trying to start their business, I’d definitely tell them to not give up. It’s hard work. It’s a lot of sweat and tears, but in the end it will be worth it if it’s something you truly believe in.” – Samantha King Sablan 


Custom Fitness is located in Anigua and open on M-F from 5:30am - 7:30pm; Saturday from 6:00am - 12:00pm; and closed on Sundays. For more information on their services, visit http://customfitnessguam.com/ or call 989-0436.

An Interview with Jessica Stout of Bonita Trading Co.

Jessica Stout is a wife, mother of three, and business owner of Bonita Trading Co. along with Joe Leon Guerrero & Margaret Leon Guerrero. This locally owned and family run business offers hair and baby accessories and kid-friendly apparel designs under their brands: Bonita Baby, Kidd Pacific, and The Original Guam Polo Collection are inspired by their children, culture, and love for Guam. Jessica discussed her business venture journey through the challenges and triumphs and also talked about what lies in store for Bonita Trading Co. 

Please tell us about yourself and your family.  I’m a Wife (to Michael) and Mommy to 3 wonderful children:  Celia, Michael and Olivia. 

Why did you decide to start your own business? My business was inspired by two things:  A passionate hobby and the desire to pass on our culture to my children.  I realized that the selection of unique and locally inspired children’s gear was very minimal and found my niche in designing and creating, alongside my brother Joe, some kid-friendly designs that were Guam themed.
 
     What experience do you have in this type of business?  I have an MBA and a background in sales and finance. While becoming a business owner seemed like a natural progression, I really didn’t have any experience in the retail or craft business.  I learned a lot from other business owners and artists.  I also read through business articles and trade blogs online.

    How did the Small Business Development Center and other resources help you?  The Small Business Development Center really helped me to identify my business objectives,   develop realistic steps to reaching my goals, and formulate a solid direction to take my business.  Even though I already have my business plan in full motion – it’s comforting to know that if I have any other questions or concerns, the team at SBDC is always there to help me. 
     What was the start-up process like? How did you fund your business?  We self -funded our business from the start so our inventory was fairly small and selective to only the items we really wanted to bring to market.  However, last year, we were fortunate enough to receive a grant which helped us launch our newest clothing line – the Guam Polo Collection.

What were some of the biggest challenges/experienced you experienced in the start-up process?  I believe in any business, funding is always a big challenge.  We just started small and continued to reinvest in our business.  We took baby steps to get to a comfortable point.  Self-doubt was something I also had to get over.  There were times I wondered if my business was going anywhere, but when I have customers send me photos of their babies and children in their Guam bibs or Guam Seal headbands or Hafa Adai tee shirts – that’s when I know the challenges have been worth it.
What is your most memorable triumph in your start-up process?  I have two memorable triumphs:  Starting a collective boutique with talented female artists from around the island was just amazing.  You can’t help but to draw inspiration from like-minded women who just want to help lift you up.  I have so much gratitude for the experience. Also, being the recipient of the Guam Unique Merchandise and Art Grant was truly memorable.  Having some of Guam’s most successful business men and women believe in you and your products is so encouraging.

What are your short-term and long-term plans for your business?  For Bonita Baby and Kid Pacific, in the short-term, we are launching our very own storefront in just a few weeks.  It is truly an exciting time for us. In addition, we have a lot of new ideas and designs that we will release throughout the year. Longer term, we just want to continue on with our mission of cultivating and preserving our beautiful Chamorro culture through our kid-friendly products.
What advice would you give to others who want to start a business at this time? Starting a business is frightening and amazing all at the same time-- but you won’t ever regret believing in yourself and putting your ideas out there.  All it takes is a vision, determination, and that very first step.  I believe Guam is ripe for new businesses.
For more information on Bonita Baby and Kid Pacific items, visit www.bonitaguam.com. You can find their products at the Guam Art Boutique and GUMA Store in Chamorro Village, Neni & Me in Sagua Managu in Tamuning, and Two Lover’s Point Gift Shop. Be on the lookout in March 2017 as they open their storefront in Hagatna directly besidre Buzzcuts & Ponytails.

To find out how the Guam SBDC can assist you start or expand your business, visit www.pacificsbdc.com or call their main office at 671-735-2590.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Managing Personal Credit for Business Related Financing

By: Jane Ray
Business Advisor
Guam SBDC

Sometimes having a great business idea isn’t enough to bring your dream into reality.  There are factors such as the 5 Cs of Credit that will affect your business’s ability to get the financing that it needs.  One of those Cs is credit score.  Credit score is an important factor that can have a significant impact on your quest to financing.  Your credit score reflects how you have handled your personal credit in the past and predicts the likelihood of how you will handle it in the future.  That three digit number can reflect your character as a business owner and also demonstrate how you have handled your own personal finances.  The way you manage your personal finances can demonstrate how you are going to handle your business finances in most cases.  Therefore it is imperative that you, as a business owner, should know your personal credit score and credit history before reaching out to lenders.

How do I check my credit score?
Generally, you can retrieve your personal credit report from one of the three credit bureaus; TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian.  As a consumer, you are allowed to obtain a free copy of your credit report through all three of the credit bureaus every year.  The credit reports will allow you to check your personal information; name, social security number, and address.  You should also check your account history, account information, late payments, collections, and tax liens.  It is recommended to check for any unexpected errors or surprises.  This will allow you to correct any errors and address any issues such as collections prior to applying to a financial institution.     

Since financial institutions are not required to report your activities to all three credit bureaus, some information can appear in one bureau but not the other.  It is best to check with all three credit bureau reports to ensure accurate information is reflected on each of those reports.  Some financial institutions only obtain a single credit report from the credit bureau with which they work directly when reviewing loan applications.  It is crucial to check credit reports from all three credit bureaus.   

Personal credit scores range from 300 to 850.  Credit scores vary between credit bureaus; each bureau has its own scoring models.  Generally, credit score is computed based on the following components:  payment history (35%); capacity (30%); length of credit history (10%); types of credit used (15%); and new credit (10%).  Paying bills on time is one of the most critical parts of maintaining a good credit score while avoiding excessive use of lines of credit and credit cards is another way to not adversely impacting your credit.  Any usage over 35% of the credit limit can considered excessive; therefore keeping track of what you spend on credit card is good financial practice.     

How to dispute when there is an issue?
If you identify errors or issues on your credit report, you can dispute the information with the credit bureau the information is coming from.  You can either dispute the information online, by telephone, or by mail.  It is helpful to have a copy of the credit report with the incorrect information when disputing; each report has a specific number identifying when it was generated.  This credit report number can assist the credit bureau in finding the incorrect information faster.  You should also provide any supporting documentation if you have any.  It is not recommended to send the original document however a copy of the document will be adequate.  Expect a 30 to 45 day timeframe for processing as the credit bureau will contact the source to verify, correct, and update the databases.  If you are experiencing identity theft or other credit issues, you can request for Security Freeze or Fraud alert on your credit report to prevent any unauthorized access.  Before selecting either of those options it is important to understand that Security Freeze and Fraud Alert will prevent creditors from accessing your credit reports unless you have provided the authorization.  Sometime it can also delay loan application process if you have forgotten that you placed one of those options onto your credit report.         

How long does negative information remain on my credit report?
Types of Information
Duration
Accounts paid as agreed
10 years from the date of last activity
Accounts not paid as agreed
7 years from the date the account first became past due
Late or missed payments
7 years
Collection accounts
7 years
Judgements (paid or not)
7 years
Paid Tax Liens / Unpaid Tax Liens
7 years / Indefinitely
Bankruptcy  - Chapter 7 / 11 / 13 non-discharged or dismissed
10 years from date filed
Bankruptcy – Chapter 13 (Discharged)
7 years from the date filed
Credit Inquiries
2 years
Source:  Moogalian, Diane (2010, May 10). FAQ: How Long Does Information Stay on My Credit Report? Retrieved from October 17, 2016, from http://blog.equifax.com/credit/faq-how-long-does-information-stay-on-my-credit-report/

Where can I find information about credit?
Have realistic expectations and be aware that paying past due payments or addressing delinquent collections will not immediately improve your credit score.  It takes time to improve your credit after financial difficulties or hardship.  There are many online resources that can help you if you are in need of financial education.  Each credit bureau has an educational center that discusses credit related topics.  Other web sites, such as Credit Karma and Nerd Wallet, have features on comparison shopping on different credit products and credit report monitoring services that are available to you.  If your financial issues come from poor financial habits, seeking professional help from a financial counselor or financial professional might help you address the root of the issue. 


If you are currently in business, or are planning to go into business, you will require funds to start or to expand your business.  Do not circumvent or work around adverse credit issues or you may miss a once in a life time opportunity.  It is better to address it now rather than wait until later when you are in urgent need of financing. Once you miss the opportunity, you won’t know when the next one will arise.  Being financially responsible with your personal credit will prepare you to achieve your financial dreams by being your own boss.       



Jane Ray, MS CCFCU received her Bachelor in Business Administration with a concentration in Finance and Economic from the University of Guam. She then received her Master in Accounting and Financial Management from the University of Maryland University College.  Ray has over ten years in commercial lending experience and previously awarded the Small Business Banker of the Year award by the Small Business Administration.