A Successful Dakota Business Lending Borrower
Mar 11, 2020
For Ann-Marie, becoming a business owner was nothing more than finding a solution to a problem she was tempted to complain about.
She was finishing up her third year of college in Dickinson, ND and wondering where life will take her next when she realized that the nearest womenswear shop was over 100 miles away. Frustrated with this reality, Ann-Marie asked herself, “Why don’t I just open my own shop right here in Dickinson?” From then on out, Ann-Marie found herself dedicating her time, energy, and finances to fulfilling this dream. But that’s only the beginning…
“It was kind of an ‘aha’ moment for me where I thought to myself: ‘If I have a problem with something, why don’t I just fix it myself?’ That thought spiraled into this thing where, the more I learned and the more I talked to people, the more I felt a sense of community where I live and support that encouraged me to keep moving forward. I finally began to feel like I was on the right track.”
From there, Ann-Marie began a long journey towards opening Stanza D’Amore. With the help of a local SBDC and Stark Development, Ann-Marie was able to develop a business plan and take the proper steps towards making her business idea a reality. The only thing that was holding her back was financing. Ann-Marie reached out to her local bank asking for financing and, after getting rejected, was ready to throw in the towel.
It was at this moment that she was introduced to Dakota Business Lending and the loan options they offer. Together, Dakota Business Lending and Ann-Marie tweaked her business plan and secured a unique financing package that included a Kiva loan - a crowdfunding loan program offered at a 0% interest rate - and a 7-year IRP loan with a Flex PACE buydown. Through these programs, Ann-Marie was able to finance improvements and working capital and make her business venture possible.
“When I presented to the local bank and got rejected, I was so discouraged and started to think that I shouldn’t continue pursuing this. But I was encouraged to try again and again. When I came in contact with Dakota Business Lending, I had an opportunity for loans that would give me the extra padding that I needed to get started.”
Since opening her business in November of 2019, Stanza D’Amore has seen nothing but support and encouragement from the local community and beyond. With a vision to revitalize downtown Dickinson and remove the stigma that there’s “nothing to do in rural ND,” Ann-Marie has developed several partnerships with other local businesses to plan events, offer specials, and provide opportunities for community members to come together for fun and fellowship. “We hear so many complaints about how there is nothing going on in Dickinson in the winter,” Ann-Marie shared. “I hear that and instantly want to fix it. That’s how my entrepreneurial spirit works and what I’m trying to cultivate.” Ann-Marie has partnered with several other local businesses to put on events, specials, and more.
In addition to this mission of revitalizing Dickinson, Ann-Marie works to help women leave feeling more confident and beautiful than they did when they walked in. “Almost daily, I have someone come in who is nervous or not feeling very confident,” Ann-Marie shared. “When I put them in the right outfit, bodysuit, or lingerie and they feel beautiful, you can instantly see the difference. There’s a pep in their step that shows me that I made a difference today.”
That, she believes, is the most rewarding part of her job and what keeps her moving forward when challenges arise.
All in all, Ann-Marie has learned firsthand that a person can do anything they put their mind to, no matter what obstacle. She has discovered what it means to keep pushing, ask for help, and never stop learning. And this advice, which was passed on to her from business mentors in the past, is exactly what she would offer other fellow entrepreneurs looking to start or grow their own business.
“There’s a season for everything, and sometimes, that season feels like failure. But, in the end, its not. It’s just a learning curve. Is it hard? Yes. Is it worth it? Even more yes.”