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Updated: May 18, 2016
Like many entrepreneurs, Viola didn’t take the traditional path to opening her own design studio in San Francisco. A business degree from Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, followed by a stint in banking, and a serendipitous series of events resulted in her acceptance at the design program at the California College of the Arts — and, eventually, embarking upon her own adventure with Maika Goods.
“I have always felt that an open mind and a sense of play and curiosity is crucial to self-growth. Maika represents that leap of faith.” Driven by a desire to “delight and inspire” her customers, she quickly developed a line of eco-friendly, functional soft goods perfect for home and travel.
Viola got her business off the ground by funding it herself with personal savings and revenue from consulting work for other businesses on the side — but dreamt of taking her studio full-time. As with any kind of business revolving around inventory, Viola quickly found it hard to grow without an infusion of capital. “As I grew, I just couldn’t do it all anymore. My business was taking off, and I needed more capital and time to grow.”
“I love building something from scratch and bringing it to market. Wearing many hats can be stressful, but it stretches my creativity.”
She went to her bank to get help with funding, but found they didn’t have the requisite creativity to wrap their head around her unique business. “My bank wasn’t in tune with what a small business like mine needed. I realized my chances of approval weren’t good. Ultimately, I knew I had a better shot going an alternative route.”
Viola decided to think outside the box and apply for a term loan with a more forward-thinking peer-to-peer lender, and quickly discovered the Funding Circle difference. “I felt like Funding Circle really understood my business. My underwriter found ways to personalize the application process for me, and the whole process is a lot smoother and faster that what you’d get from a bank.”
With $50,000 in her pocket, Viola felt more comfortable than ever before devoting herself full-time to evolving Maika Goods into the business she knew it could be. “When you’re a small business owner, you don’t have endless budgets or a lot of people working for you.”
Reflecting on how her loan impacted her life as a self-employed entrepreneur, Viola notes, “I used to feel strapped for finances and time. My Funding Circle loan helped me get out of that mindset of surviving day-to-day and instead focus on the long-term strategy of my business.”
With a renewed strategy and budget in place to build her brand, Viola developed new socially-conscious products and invested in creative social media and email marketing campaigns. She was also able to open more product showrooms nationwide, and hire and train new sales reps for trade show season.
“Thanks to Funding Circle, my sales team can be confident that we’ll have the right inventory to ship when they sell it and the right logistics in place to deliver goods to stores on time.” Maika goods can currently be found nationwide at Barney’s, The Container Store, and Urban Outfitters in addition to an impressive number of local boutiques – and Viola’s just getting started.
“My Funding Circle loan freed up my time to focus on the areas of my business I want to grow.”
When prompted to reflect on her work-life balance as an entrepreneur and mother of two, Viola laughs and points out that such a goal is probably impossible for a small business owner. Still, knowing that she can affordably grow her business on her terms does deliver some peace of mind. “As an entrepreneur and mom-to-be for a second time, the financial freedom I got from my loan impacts all areas of my life. I’m confident about the future of my business and don’t have to miss out on those precious early years with my daughter.”
Want to freshen up your home and travel with eco-friendly Maika goods? Claim your 15% online discount here or find Viola’s designs at these retailers nationwide. For a daily dose of design inspiration, follow Viola on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.
Viola is driven to live each day delightfully — and that includes the way she finances her business. If you’re ready to be surprised and delighted by our fast and personalized business loan experience, visit our Small Business Loans page or apply today in under 10 minutes.
Paige Smith is a Content Marketing Writer and Senior Contributing Writer at Funding Circle. She has a bachelor's degree in English Literature from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, and specializes in writing about the intersection of business, finance, and tech. Paige has written for a number of B2B industry leaders, including fintech companies, small business lenders, and business credit resource sites.