June Success Story: Flirty Aprons

Flirty Aprons, LLC
575 East University Parkway
Orem, Utah 84058
Flirty Aprons began as a concept on Mother’s Day 2007. Jamie Taylor was looking for an apron for her mother on Mother’s Day, and found nothing that was remotely appealing. So she started her first sewing project, and created her own apron. Then, in December of 2007, Jamie met Heather Hansen, who was in training to replace her at her current position. The ladies started talking; and together with their husbands, Spencer and Joseph, decided to start a business together. The two couples put together ten business ideas each, and from these forty ideas - they chose to sell aprons. They considered this idea to be the quickest way to raise money for a larger venture. Little did they know, they had stumbled upon a business that would grow very quickly and become their “large venture.”
Throughout the startup phase of the business, the Taylors and Hansens ran into several unexpected hiccups. Finding a manufacturer was difficult, until they found a fabulous one that was right in their backyard - someone that was close enough to supervise and make sure the design was being printed and made as desired. The next obstacle was getting funding. After being turned down by numerous banks, they discovered America First. At the time, Joseph and Heather Hansen were also going through a home purchase and America First assisted them with both loans. Unfortunately they had to first get approved for the home loan, and only then were they able to apply for the business loan. This delayed the opening date slightly, but they finally obtained their first business loan.
Joseph had previously found the Small Business Development Center online while exploring the possibility of starting a gym in the Alpine area. He had taken the ‘Internet Marketing’ and ‘Start Smart’ classes at the Orem Small Business Development Center and learned a great deal from those classes. Then he met with Ken Fakler about the ‘Flirty Apron’ concept. When Ken introduced him to the SBDC Joseph said, “this is a hidden gem no one knows about.” Spencer said that “Ken has given a lot of advice. He has helped shape the company, given us direction, and been so encouraging.” The Hansen’s and Taylor’s also read the book ‘The E-Myth Revisited.’ This book has been a guideline for them as they’ve started. It has shown them that having a business model rather than just being self employed is the key to success.
Flirty Aprons was expected to be a small side business for these families. They were hoping to sell a few aprons to stores like Bed, Bath and Beyond. However, after opening their first store in March 2008, they quickly discovered, that flirty attractive aprons was a concept that no one had tapped. They found that it was not just a local need, but a concept that had worldwide appeal - one that was worth expediting. Within the first three months of opening ‘Flirty Aprons’ their actual sales tripled over their projected sales. Furthermore, within a two week period the company earned enough capital to pay off all start up costs. Their beta test was a resounding success and taught them many valuable lessons to expand to the next level. They are now preparing to open a second location in mid July, 2008. They are also expanding their website and setting up their distribution network from which they hope to go nationwide, soon. A simple household need has turned into the venture of a lifetime- what a ride for four more entrepreneurs.

May Success Story: Gloria's Little Italy

Gloria's Little Italy
Owner: Gloria Bonfanti
279 East 300 South
Provo, Utah

Gloria Bonfanti grew up on the Marina Di Pisa Coast in Italy. Her family has been in the restaurant business for three generations. Her grandfather owned many restaurants in the area; and her father, in turn, growing up with thirteen brothers and sisters, started up his own restaurant on the Pisa Coast. Growing up, Gloria learned her dad’s different recipes and experimented with them on her own. Gloria moved to the United States eleven years ago with her family, and settled in Utah. She always had an urge to start her own restaurant.
Nine years ago, Gloria took a cake decorating class at BYU. She began working at BYU in their catering department, and then began catering parties on her own. At this time, she found a great location for her own restaurant, but she only had one week to sign the lease, she passed because the timing wasn’t right. She feared the overwhelming thought of owning her own business in a foreign country, and the time commitment that would take her away from her three small children. Over the next six years, while catering for others, people would constantly ask her why she didn’t start her own business. There was no real authentic Italian food available in the county, and the dream of owning her own restaurant kept recurring to her.
Gloria and her family again started looking for a location to open a ‘trattoria’ or small family styled restaurant. It was important for her to use authentic Italian meat and cheese, as well as gelato. Gloria investigated several different locations. She was interested in a location in Riverwoods Mall, and other outdoor malls; but the banks would not loan her enough money to start. Then Gloria stumbled onto the small building in Provo that she had fallen in love with six years before. The building was available again, and the bank loans finally went through. The only stumbling block this time was that the landlord of the business had little faith in Gloria’s business model. They felt that Gloria did not have enough experience to succeed, but they still accepted the rent money and Gloria readied the building to launch.
At the same time, Gloria’s eldest daughter, Letizia, was attending BYU. She heard of the SBDC in one of her classes, and they signed up for an appointment to meet with Ken Fakler. Ken assisted them in writing a well established business plan, and confirmed his confidence in Gloria, her family, and her dream. Gloria says, “Ken pushed me and gave me confidence to do it. He is a nice man, hard working, knows how to do his job.” Ken assisted with the Business Plan and proforma budgets for 3 years; and finally they were able to get the business running.
Gloria and her family visited the local restaurants to compare prices and services of the competition. She found suppliers to import fresh meat and cheeses from Italy; and found the correct ingredients to make the perfect Gelato. Gloria’s dream of eleven years had finally become a reality. Gloria has one hint that she would like to give anyone starting a new business, “Have one goal you want to do in your life- and do it! That one opportunity is so great and you have a blessing. If you will use your talent you will be successful in life, in spirit, and financially.”
Gloria involves her whole family in the business. All three children ranging from 13 to 25 years old and her husband, Mauro, take full responsibility in running the family restaurant. Their future plans are to expand to another location serving quick deli sandwiches and desserts to go. But for now they are happy with their lovely ‘trattoria’ and deli.