At first, collecting digital images for collage was just a hobby for Portlander Corrina Buchholz. Now, using what she learned from Mercy Corps Northwest’s business development programs, Buchholz is moving her crafting business, piddix LLC, into a fulltime enterprise.
Buchholz had been making and selling crafts for several years before she signed up for Mercy Corps Northwest’s Individual Development Account (IDA) program. In the program, Buchholz attended a six-week financial literacy and business fundamentals workshop and opened a matched savings account. For every $1 she saved toward her business, the account matched with $3 from the State of Oregon.
“One of the big reasons for doing the program was definitely for the funding,” Buchholz says, “but the idea of going to a structured business class was also important. I wanted to learn about growth—how to grow and expand a business.”
Buchholz was pleasantly surprised to find that the classes went beyond the basics, and gave her in-depth, practical information. “I learned an incredible amount,” she says. “The instructors all had real-life experience and a business expertise, for example in finances or business development. I came away with a concrete plan for how to sustain and grow my digital image business.”
Even before the class ended, Buchholz put her new knowledge to work and her business, based online at piddix.com, started to take off. “My sales had doubled by the time I finished the class,” Buchholz says. “And ever since they have been steadily going up.”
Piddix LLC became so successful that Buchholz and her husband were able to cut back their jobs outside the home to part-time and spend more time with their 2-year-old son. Piddix now supplies a major part of their income and gives them the work-life balance that they’ve always wanted.
Now, after just over two years of trial and error with her new business, Buchholz is working toward making piddix a full-time enterprise. Grateful for all the help she’s received to get where she is today, Buchholz makes an effort to share her business knowledge with other entrepreneurs by writing how-to guides and sharing tips on her website and by telling her Portland network about Mercy Corps Northwest.
“Portland is a city that has a lot of creative people and people starting small businesses,” she says. “Having a resource like MCNW is essential for people who want to make their ideas into a reality.” She thinks MCNW’s move to downtown Portland will make a big difference to local entrepreneurs. “Its prominent downtown location will showcase the support MCNW offers to small businesses, especially minority- and women-owned small businesses, and make them more accessible.”