Manzano’s plan for her Ana Apple Boutique and Creative Studio won the grand prize in the Calling All Dreamers contest created by the Downtown Sacramento Foundation. Her prize of $135,000 in startup incentives includes a year of free rent. She has to raise $10,000 in matching funds, and the indiegogo campaign was her salvo in a campaign to do so.
She’s hoping to open her doors at 1200 Second St. in Old Sacramento sometime in September.
Manzano told me she never expected “the whole kit and caboodle wrapped in a bow,” so she got to work right away on applying for a small business loan. She’s actually been producing her bibs, onesies, hoodies and other infants and toddlers’ apparel for more than three years and selling them online at www.anaapple.com. Her company is profitable, with a full-time and a part-time employee.
Last year, she was selected to participate in the Flywheel Creative Economy Incubator. Run by the Arts & Business Council of Sacramento, Flywheel puts Manzano and other talented Sacramentans through a finance boot camp, introduces them to experts who can share insights and answer questions, and creates an environment where they feel accountable for the goals they set. At least, that’s how Manzano described it to me.
The network of mentors she established in the program, she said, helped with her entry in the Calling All Dreamers competition and are now helping with her loan application.
“I’m glad that I made it to the finish line, but at every single stage, I feel like I became a more seasoned business owner because I’d never ever done something like that before,” Manzano said. “I’d never put a formal business plan together.”
At her Old Sacramento boutique, Manzano will sell her clothing, but she will also invite artists to give kids classes in everything from sewing to culinary art to painting. She envisions offering parents-night-out packages where Mom and Dad have dinner at an Old Sacramento restaurant or attend a nearby event while their children do crafts and see a movie in her studio. In fact, her indiegogo page offers discount pricing on class passes and parents-night-out deals.