Client Success Stories
In honor of the 20th anniversary of Working Solutions, we are pleased to share inspiring success stories from small business loan clients we have served over the years.
Founded by sisters Kris and Kim Nations, Kris Nations is a local jewelry company that is both fashionable and fun. Designed using original artwork and recycled materials, the collection ranges from traditional pieces featuring birthstones and engraved letters to stud earrings shaped like tacos and avocados. Like many other small businesses, Kris Nations didn’t initially qualify for a bank loan, and the sisters turned to Working Solutions after being referred by a friend. They received their first loan in 2005 as the business was starting up, and they have returned for three additional loans since then. About Working Solutions, Kris said, “For us, it wasn’t just money. It was all the support. They want you to succeed and they give you the tools to succeed.” Read more about Kris and Kim’s story here.
Nona Lim is passionate about making healthy and delicious food for people on the go. Her company, Nona Lim, started out as one of the first meal kit delivery services, with dishes inspired by flavors that Nona enjoyed while growing up in Singapore. With the help of a loan from Working Solutions, Nona Lim transitioned from a meal delivery business into a consumer packaged goods company—selling products made from scratch in small batches from fresh vegetables and high-quality meat, without additives or preservatives. Today, Nona Lim’s fresh Asian bone broths, soups, noodles, and more can be found in the refrigerated section of retailers such as Whole Foods and Costco. Read more about Nona’s story here.
Dionne McCray, founder, designer, and owner of Iva Jewell by Dionne, makes accessories for the bold, brave, and daring woman who likes bright colors and big prints. Dionne named the business after her mother, Iva Jewell, a former home economics teacher who inspired her love of fashion and design. With help from a Working Solutions loan through the SBA Microloan program, and with the support of the Wells Fargo Diverse Community Capital program, she has completed the first run of her line of fold-over clutches, laptop sleeves, and oversized totes made from African wax fabric and Indian saree lace. Read more about Dionne’s story here.
Jonathan Plotzker-Kelly is the founder of Heliotrope, a line of organic, scent-free skin care products sold online and in boutique shops across the country. Made in Northern California in small batches using organic ingredients, the product line includes moisturizers, cleansers, shaving products, lotions, shower gels, and hair care products, as well as aromatherapy candles, essential oils, and lotions. A loan from Working Solutions in the early stages of his business allowed Jonathan to develop new products and expand his inventory. In his own words, “The support they gave me at Working Solutions was crucial.” Read more about Jonathan’s story here.
Dionne Knox, chef and owner of Zella’s Soulful Kitchen—a café and catering company—has always loved to feed people. “I like to encourage people to get back to the table,” she said. “Have a meal at a table, and share what went on in your day.” Zella’s Soulful Kitchen was inspired by both of Dionne’s grandmothers. One taught her how to cook Southern-inspired comfort food favorites with a healthy spin, and the other had a huge garden. A loan from Working Solutions helped Dionne expand her business and her customer base in Oakland. Read more about Dionne’s story here.
GW “Chef” Chew has a mission—to get people to embrace a plant-based diet. In his own words, he was “born to change lives one chew at a time.” Through his company, Something Better Foods, he is doing just that by promoting healthier eating and offering delicious plant-based substitutes for meat and dairy products. Read more about Chef Chew’s story, and how a loan from Working Solutions through the Diverse Community Capital program helped him pave the road to success, here.
Patty Rodriguez, owner of SF Parking, runs the successful Employee Parking Lot at SFO and believes in giving people second chances. She founded SF Parking in 2011 and has since employed more than 200 people in full-time and part-time work, including formerly incarcerated individuals to help them get back on their feet. Speaking about how a loan from Working Solutions and the Entrepreneurs of Color Fund helped to boost her business, Patty said, “Be willing to take the risk. There are resources out there. Don’t be afraid to ask and learn.” Read more about Patty’s story here.
Hear additional stories from our amazing clients here.