Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Cutie Petunias opens at the ASC Market Place

An Interview with Naomi Ventura, Owner and Designer

By: Denise Mendiola-Hertslet
Senior Business Counselor/WIB Program Coordinator
(Guam SBDC)

Please tell us a little about yourself:
NV: I'm a mother of 2 beautiful children and a wife of an active Coast Guard. My daughter who's my second child was born in April of 2012 and she was my inspiration to the start of my business.

Why did you decide to start a business?
NV: When my daughter was born, I couldn't find hair accessories or foot wear that she could fit so I decided to create them for her. Everyone loved the pieces I made as well so that's when I decided to start a business.

What experience do you have in this type of business?
Naomi Ventura, owner of Cutie Petunias, displays one
of her hair accessories.
NV: I'd like to think that I've always been a creative person. I was a hair dresser for a year and a half. I worked at Hairtown at the GPO in 2003 until I relocated to California in 2005. So instead of cutting hair, I now enjoy dressing hair.

How did the Guam Small Business Development Center and other resources help you?
NV: I received so much helpful information at the SBDC. They assisted me with my business plan and helped me to cross network with business owners and other great people to know. They helped open my eyes to the goals I didn't think I could reach.

What was the start-up process like?
NV: The toughest part of starting a business for me was the business plan. It took me 3 months to complete.

How did you fund your business?
NV: For business start-up, I applied for the Patriots Express loan, through the Bank of Guam and that was surprisingly fast and smooth. I received funds 2 weeks after my application.

What was your most memorable experience in your start-up process?
NV: Holding my Business license was my moment of triumph. It was the start of my business and endless possibilities.

What advice would you give to others who want to start a business?
NV: My advice to others is, if you feel you have a great idea for a business, move forward with it. At least to take a step and contact the Guam SBDC for advice!

Friday, October 25, 2013

YES Participants Visit with Local Entrepreneurs

By: Lisa Abraham
(Palau SBDC)

The Youth Entrepreneur Solutions (YES) business plan competition hit the road and made several visits to local businesses and entrepreneurs.

YES participants a quick photo with Emerlita Kerradel after
discussing topics on spiritual guidance.
The participants were fortunate enough to meet with Omadsu Ueki, owner of 7 Degrees North, and manager Brent Ueki. 7 Degrees North is a local vodka distillery and brainchild of Omadasu Ueki. Mr. Omdasu has spoken to YES participants in the past about the help he has received from the Palau Small Business Development Center (Palau SBDC). The Uekis currently produce vodka in five flavors and proudly market their product with the “Made in Palau” label.

YES Phase II participants were also able to visit General Manager, Andrrea Vereen of The Cliff Side Hotel to learn about the lodging and accommodation industry in Palau; Comptroller Carol Ngiradis and her stellar team of Dolphin’s Pacific Eco Tour where the participants were able to see a combination of tourism and environmental protection, and Kotra Bedor owner and manager of Kotra’s recording studio where the participants had a chance to meet a fellow youth entrepreneur who has been featured in the local media for his exceptional talent.

The YES Phase II participants have diverse backgrounds and have an even more diverse set of business ideas and dreams which they intend to follow.

If you would like more information about the Youth Entrepreneur Solution Business Plan competition of the Palau Small Business Development Center, please contact Lisa Abraham at (680)587-6004 or e-mail at You can also stay up-to-date on all their activities by visiting their Facebook site:

Friday, October 18, 2013

Office Creativity

By: Fred Granillo
Business Counselor
(Guam SBDC)

Jesse S. Lujan, 37, resides in Barrigada with his wife, Mariann T. Lujan and their three children, Brandon 16, Serenity 8, and Zahavah 1. Lujan enjoys outdoor sports and off-roading, but most importantly enjoys spending time with his family.
When asked why he decided to start his own business, Lujan replied, “I have been working in the furniture industry for over 15 years and it has been a lifelong dream to owning my own company. When the opportunity arose, I did not hesitate to take that leap.” With over 15 years in the furniture industry, he has worked on office designing, sales, and installation. Lujan has had the opportunity to deal with many different manufacturers and different types of furnishing. Furnishings vary from rotating files systems, cubicles, free standing desks and seating to pallet racking and shelving. He has also worked on IT items as well as construction. In his experience then and now, he has dealt with different entities including the federal and local government as well as the private sector.

The Small Business Development Center played a pivotal role in the start of his business planning. With the help and expertise of Fred Granillo, he received guidance in creating his business plan, understanding the tax process, and all the basic needs in starting his own business. SBDC also helped him with the SBA loan applications and processes.

Lujan describes the start-up process. “In the beginning it was quite intimidating. There were so many things that I needed to do in order to get started. Start off capital is important when starting a business. This I would say was my biggest hurdle, as when I started I no longer had the residual income I was used to when I was just an employee. Much of the start-up funding came from our family savings. It was a sacrifice for my family and me during this time. But we knew that in the long run it will pay-off.”

When Lujan first started his business, funding came from family savings that were intended to use for a family vacation this past summer. With the help of SBDC and SBA, he was able to acquire a credit line with Bank of Guam. One of the biggest challenges, Lujan stated, was getting the word out that he was in business. Being a new name and a new business, he had to work harder to establish his clients. When there are challenges, triumph is usually just around the corner. For Lujan, his most memorable triumph was when he received his first job from Nanbo’s Insurance, just a week after he officially opened. This opportunity gave him the confidence that things will go well.

In every business, there are goals to be made and accomplished. Lujan stated that his short-term plans for Office Creativity include establishing more consistent marketing strategies so customers are aware that they have another option for all their office needs. His long-term plans include expanding office space and carrying inventory for immediate customer needs.

We asked Lujan “What advice would you give to others who want to start a business at this time?” He responded, “Follow your intuition and believe in yourself. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and most of all take advantage of the programs available through SBDC. Overall, don’t be afraid to take chances and jump on opportunities when they arise.”

For more information about Small Business Development Center contact (671)735-2590 or visit our website at

Friday, October 11, 2013

Custom Fitness and CrossFit Gof Metgot Opens in Anigua

An interview with Samantha King Sablan, co-owner

By: Denise Mendiola-Hertslet
Senior Business Counselor/WIB Program Coordinator
(Guam SBDC)

Custom Fitness and CrossFit Gof Metgot is a family-owned, woman-owned small business. The business partners are Samantha King Sablan (married to Matthew Sablan with one daughter, Matea Grace), brother-in-law Steven (married to Maria DeVille with two sons, Stevie Joe and Rocco) and his godbrother Paul Claros, along with his twin, Ryan Claros.

Custom Fitness Co-owners: Ryan Claros, Samantha King Sablan, and Paul Claros. Not pictured: Co-owner Steven Sablan

Why did you decide to start your own business?
SS: Paul and Ryan had always dreamt of opening their own fitness facility. When Ryan completed his Doctorate of Physical Therapy, he finally moved home after more than a decade away, to turn that dream into a reality. Seeing that they would need help and wanting to keep it in the family, they recruited me to run the day to day operations, and my brother-in-law who is currently pursuing his degree in Exercise Science, to assist with the training and help develop a children’s program.

What experience do you have in this type of business?
SS: This is my first time owning my own business, which is quite daunting, but I do have experience managing a front office. Ryan, Paul, and Steven all have experience coaching, degrees in the exercise field, extensive certifications, and personal training experience.

How did the Small Business Development Center and other resources help you?
SS: We had our business plan ready but needed help fine-tuning it, as well as the expertise of someone who had experience with small businesses. Denise was a God-send! :)

What was the start-up process like?
SS: A lot of work! We tried to do as much as possible ourselves, and literally poured our blood, sweat, and tears into the business.

How did you fund your business?
SS: A combination of savings and private investors. Currently we are in the process of procuring a small business loan to fund our expansion into a physical therapy clinic and additional space for our CrossFit classes.

What were some of the biggest challenges you experienced in the start-up process?
SS: Not knowing what to expect. However, we will be so prepared for our expansion now that we have an idea of what goes into opening your own business.

What is your most memorable triumph in your start-up process?
SS: Having people believe in our vision and our expertise. Developing a member base has been a great experience and we really feel like our community is a family.

What are your short-term and long-term plans for your business?
SS: Short-term goals include opening our physical therapy practice, kicking off our children’s program, and retaining members, as well as recruiting new ones. Long-term plans are to be Guam’s premier functional fitness facility, having the most knowledgeable and educated staff and continuing to better and improve ourselves and our facility so that we always have the best product possible. We also hope to continue to contribute to the island’s ecomomy by buying local, contributing to GRT, and eventually increasing our workforce by employing qualified individuals to be a part of our team.

What advice would you give to others who want to start a business at this time?
SS: Go to the Small Business Development Center and see Denise! It is a great resource and it’s free!

For more information about UOG-Guam Small Business Development Center contact Denise Mendiola-Hertslet at or 671-735-2594.

Friday, October 4, 2013

USDA Farm Service Agency offers New Loan Program for Farmers in the CNMI

By: Perry Inos Jr.

Gov. Eloy S. Inos and Lt. Gov. Jude U. Hofshneider, through the Department of Commerce's CNMI Small Business Development Center (SBDC) in partnership with USDA's Farm Service Agency (FSA) are pleased to announce loan opportunities for farming related activities.

According to FSA assistant manager Fred A. San Nicolas, “The new Microloan (ML) Program has less stringent managerial experience and income verification requirements, along with a simpler loan application for operating loans up to $35,000. The ML application is streamlined, but FSA's mission is to help individuals become successful agriculture business owners, and so we like to let people know they must have a solid business proposal and meet FSA eligibility, repayment and collateral requirements.”

CNMI SBDC director Perry A. Inos Jr., commented, “The CNMI SBDC is able to provide technical assistance for business planning through one-on-one consulting with prospective FSA applicants.”

From left: Perry A. Inos Jr., CNMI SBDC Director, Fred A. San Nicolas, Assistant Manager Farm Loan Program USDA-FSAA, and Ivan A. Blanco, Commerce Deputy Secretary
Commerce deputy secretary Ivan A. Blanco added, “These types of opportunities are a breath of fresh air for our local entrepreneurs. The administration, through Commerce Secretary Sixto Igisomar, continues to support these types of programs with the partnership of our Small Business Development (SBDC) office to assist the commercial and family size farms. I also applaud the initiative by the USDA-FSA to provide these types of opportunities for those already in the farming sector and those interested in farming.”

This program complements USDA FSA's Operational Loan Program that is also available which include farm activities such as start up costs and operational costs for family sized farms and commercial farms for purchases of livestock, agricultural products, machinery, seedlings, etc.

For further information, please visit the USDA-FSA website at:

In addition, you may contact director Inos at the CNMI SBDC at 664-3018 or as well as Fred A. San Nicolas at (Office of the Governor)
To learn more about the CNMI SBDC’s programs and services, call (670)664-3018 or visit our website at