“The SBDC has helped me become more assertive and opened me up to different types of marketing. The people at the SBDC proved it viable to make a living in the arts, to drop the ‘starving artist’ tag and take my art seriously.”
Christina Swingdler is an artist who has worked in the jewelry industry since August of 1991. Always an entrepreneur at heart, Christina remembers creating and selling bracelets to her classmates as early as grade school. From creation to repairs, Christina is now well versed in her craft and has studied bead making (glass and clay), pearl knotting, and metalsmithing, in addition to the construction and engineering of jewelry. Her passion for arts and jewelry persisted from high school through Revere Academy of Jewelry Arts in San Francisco, and Humboldt State University where she received her Bachelor’s Degree in Studio Art and minors in Art History and Dance.
In business for less than a year, Christina came to the North Coast Small Business Development Center in the early spring of 2008 when her business was experiencing growing pains. Although she was talented in her craft, there were aspects of running a business that Christina was unaware of and sought guidance to further develop. She expressed her need for help to get through her phobia of numbers and her financial anxiety that an artist should not be profitable.
Christina attended the five business basic workshops offered by the North Coast SBDC and signed up for a counseling session with a business advisor. For Christina, this would immediately prove beneficial. “I just like to make things and the SBDC helped me to clarify my goals and realize what steps I needed to take to achieve them,” said Swingdler. “I had trouble with the financial aspects of running a business and they helped me out with that as well.” Christina would regularly attend scheduled meetings with SBDC business counselors and saw herself developing as a business owner. “I could see where I wanted to be but I just didn’t know how to get there. Aside from being kind and showing me that they genuinely actually cared, they provided me the tools I would need to succeed.”
With the guidance of her business advisor, Ms. Swingdler redefined her target market, changed her business name from CS Designs to Christina Anastasia and was soon on the way to the development of a strong and feasible business plan for expanding her sales and upgrading her market. She was able to qualify for an intensive 10 month training program sponsored by the North Coast SBDC which included an Individual Development Account component. With the $2400 grant match to the monies she saved on her own, she was able to purchase a work bench and several easy access cabinets for storing her crystals, beads and other production supplies: a vast production improvement from sitting on the floor surrounded by miscellaneous bags and boxes of beads!