1662 Siskiyou Boulevard, Ashland, OR 97520
Deena Branson worked for a chocolate shop for 10 years through three sets of owners. When that business closed, she didn’t want to lose the recipes and production equipment. So, she started off on her own 9 years ago. Deena opened her scrumptious store front a little more than a year ago. Visiting her store is an olfactory delight to the chocolate lover. Her vision has always been to own her own business. Her parents were self-employed, and she grew up with that special sense of hard work and tenacity needed to work for yourself.
Deena was introduced to the SOU SBDC the first time about 7 years ago. It was through the annual Rogue Valley Business Resource Fair, and someone suggested she contact the SBDC for help with a business plan. Deena was having trouble finding financing because her approach was from the retail perspective. Banks considered her business a “restaurant” because of her specialized equipment, and the banks weren’t lending in that area of business at the time. She met with an SOU SBDC business advisor to assist with her approach and business plan. Through the business advising and business planning process, Deena shifted her mindset to wholesale to get started, and the retail could come later.
What sets Branson’s Chocolates apart from the rest is custom labeling. Deena puts your information, business or otherwise, on the front of anything packaged. Her company information appears on the back. This unique customer service has led to her partnerships with Paddington Station, Grange Co-Op, Tudor Guild, and AmeriTitle.
One of the biggest benefits to Deena from her interaction with the SBDC was heeding the advice to go wholesale and wait to go retail. When she was finally ready to go retail, everything seemed to fall seamlessly into place. That’s not to say it was easy, but it seemed to take on a life of its own without needing to force it. As a result of her taking advantage of what the SBDC has to offer, she learned how to look at her finances, budgeting, and tracking differently and effectively. She has also found the marketing guidance helpful, particularly as it relates to social media. Deena looks forward to the annual Business Fair in the fall and refers anyone talking about their small business to the SOU SBDC.