Wild Terra Cider Bar:
A Successful Dakota Business Lending Borrower
Mar 13, 2019
Ethan and Breezee Henning, founders of Wild Terra Cider and Brewing Company
ND natives Ethan and Breezee Henning’s passions revolve around three key areas: adventure, creativity, and brewing.
It wasn’t until a visit to their family in Washington, however, that they came to realize their love for craft cider as well. After seeing the apple orchards, learning about the history of cider, and tasting its rich diversity, Ethan and Breezee were inspired and determined to bring this craft beverage back to their hometown to share. “We just kind of fell in love with cider,” shared Breeze. “We saw the history of cider and where it was going. We were really excited about the craft cider movement…and wanted to use our experience in brewing and passion for craft beverages to bring something different to Fargo.”
And thus, the idea of Wild Terra Cider and Brewing Company was born.
The next step in Breezee and Ethan’s business venture? Narrowing their vision and finding a space for this business that would allow their creative and adventurous spirits shine. After visiting several potential buildings and facilities around the area, Ethan and Breeze’s last stop was a hundred-year-old horse barn. It didn’t take long for the Hennings to realize that, with some reconstruction and creativity, it would be the perfect place for their taproom. And they planned to do it all themselves…
So, Breezee and Ethan got to work. First, they met with Paul Smith at the North Dakota Small Business Development Center to create a business plan and plan of action. Then, they started visiting banks to acquire a loan to purchase and re-construct the building. Because their business was new to the Fargo area and had no history, however, their idea appeared extremely risky to banks around the area. Bank after bank, the Henning’s were getting shut down. But bank after bank, Breezee and Ethan persisted. “We were really close to just being done with it. It’s hard to stay passionate and proud of something when people keep telling you it’s going to fail,” Breezee shared. Finally, they found someone willing to partner with them on this venture and give them the path to bankability that they needed to move forward with this project: Dakota Business Lending. Breezee and Ethan utilized an SBA 7a Community Advantage loan through Dakota Business Lending, gaining them access to the funds needed to move forward with their vision of opening Wild Terra: the first cidery in Fargo, ND.
“Being the first cidery in the state is exciting, but also extremely difficult. Banks look at risk and being the first is pretty risky. We got turned down by over 15 different banks before we sat down with Dakota Business Lending. They were able to work with us, our financial decision, and our business model to find us the capital we needed to move forward.”
The Hennings transformed a 100-year-old horsebarn into their new cidery
Upon attaining the loan and a lease in 2017, Ethan and Breezee immediately began working their facility. From the finish work to the design, the couple worked tirelessly to transform the horse barn into the cidery they had envisioned. Their hard work payed off, because by 2018, Wild Terra Cider and Brewing Company was open and ready for business. And before they knew it, business was booming! “In the first few months, we were unprepared for how busy we were going to be…we were getting way more support than we expected from the community. It was a good struggle to have, and it helped us work on thinking quicker and on our feet.” In addition, the love for craft cider seemed to spread as cider sales in the community increased 30% upon the opening of Wild Terra. The business was gaining momentum as Ethan and Breezee continued to allow their creativity flow.
The Hennings seek to set Wild Terra apart from other brewing and craft beverage businesses not only by being the only cidery in Fargo, ND, but by letting their creative and adventurous hearts shape the overall atmosphere. Their cider is made from local and seasonal products, giving them a unique taste and variety of flavors. The business also purchases carbon offset in efforts to contribute less to global warming and help their environment, one of Wild Terra’s key values, as well as volunteers to do river cleanups and tree planting. “If we didn’t have the earth,we wouldn’t have trees…and if we didn’t have trees, we wouldn’t have cider. We’re trying to preserve the earth that we live in and focus on nonprofits that are working towards that.” And to celebrate, they host an annual apple harvest festival for families and the community to enjoy.
Wild Terra uses local and seasonal products to make their ciders
Besides hosting these fun events and volunteer opportunities, Breezee and Ethan love meeting people and encouraging them to try craft cider. So many people come into their business saying they don’t like cider and leave with a newly-found passion. And working to provide a place where customers can taste craft cidery for the first time and have a memorable experience is what they aim to do.
“My favorite part is being able to be creative within this little world we have created,” shared Breezee. “Hearing people having a good time in a place you’ve created is the best feeling in the world and we’re so thankful to be a part of that.”
From all the joys and challenges of starting their own business that Ethan and Breeze had experienced, they had just one piece of advice: be kind. They explained that no matter how stressed you are or how much you are being challenged, it’s important to never forget to be a good and supporting person. “The way you treat people matters,” warned Breezee. “Be a kind person to everyone, because those are the people who are going to support you. Regardless of if you’re stressed or not, this is really important to remember.”