Friday, October 13, 2017

The Food Truck: A Chef’s Hustle

Interviewed by: Denise Mendiola
Senior Business Advisor/Bank of Guam Women in Business Program Coordinator
(Guam SBDC)

Joseph Atalig, owner of The Food Truck, knew that in one form or another, food would be his livelihood. Since his childhood and growing up in Guam, food was always the central focus in the Atalig home. It was the binding force in his family of eight.  Atalig always remembered his dad being the cook; from simple breakfasts before school, to barbecues for dinner and to merely experimenting with a new dish he had seen or tasted elsewhere. Atalig took that passion and creativity with him to culinary school in the U.S. mainland where he honed his skills and flourished in the West Coast. The entrepreneurial spirit was well rooted in his family which eventually sprouted ideas for Atalig to start his business one day. Atalig shared his story with us on how The Food Truck came to fruition. 

Why did you decide to start your own business?
The main reason, I believe, that I've always gravitated not just toward food, but entrepreneurship, is because of my parents and two uncles. My mom mostly worked on commission at her job at Motorola, selling corporate accounts to selling life insurance at Prudential Financial. When I was in middle school I saw her monthly paychecks vary from $800 to $15,000. I was a nosy kid! My dad would work on peoples' cars in our garage almost every day after work to make extra income. Because of the hard work and entrepreneurship of both my parents, they were able to put six children through catholic school. The game changer which made the most impact on me, however, was when my parents and two uncles decided to try their luck at running the Liberation Carnival bingo in Saipan beginning in the early 90s. The family would fly over to Saipan each summer just to run the bingo. The best part of this was us kids could work, receiving cash wages and tips every night! For myself, I most enjoyed doing the accounting, from being the cashier to counting the money and making the deposits the next day. This is also when I learned never to make a deposit over $10,000 at one time. More importantly, though, this is when I knew I would someday run my own business.

What experience do you have in this type of business?
Today, I own a food truck called "The Food Truck".  This all began when I moved back home in December of 2015, after living in the states since after high school. But while away, I had been involved in the restaurant industry for over twelve years and direct sales and marketing for over six years. I am a graduate of the Art Institute of Seattle's Culinary Arts program. I have worked alongside some of the best chefs on the West Coast, and fortunate to have a good friend as a celebrity chef. I've done everything within the restaurant industry from a dishwasher, server, sous chef and manager for casual to high-end restaurants.

I contribute my "hustling attitude" to my experience to my experience running direct seller and marketing officer in Las Vegas and Denver. Starting with myself, I've learned to recruit, train, teach and manage teams to sell business to business. This business taught me that everything is a numbers game, with 90% attitude and 10% ability. One main lesson I have taken away from my experiences is to continue to strive each day to duplicate myself and give others the same opportunity that was given to me.

When I decided to get back into the workforce after I returned home, I tried to get a part time job serving tables just to get back out there, but to my surprise, because of my experience, restaurants only wanted me for management positions. I couldn't accept a management position, however, because that would have prolonged my goal of being my own boss; that entrepreneurial spirit within me. So, with the assistance of my uncle, we began participating in island festivals, selling banh mi spiral doggs and banh mi burgers. But festivals were only on weekends and once a month, so to help subsidize my income, I got myself a business license, allowing me to "food broker" wherein I approach different restaurants and try to advise them on ways they could boost up their lunch sales. I then took my B2B experience and started selling lunch plates once a week.

How did the Small Business Development Center and other resources help you?
With my hunger to make money and make a name for myself, but not having any capital of my own to be able to do what I had envisioned, I approached the SBDC to see how they could help me get on my feet and running. They were of tremendous help in pointing me in the right direction, from financial institutions that granted loans with little collateral to offering free classes to assist entrepreneurs who wanted to get a business started.

Another very helpful program was the Bank of Guam's Small Business Forum which I attended late last year, and this is when my food truck dreams started to come into play. There was a panel of small business owners who were making their mark on island. In business, I found surrounding myself with successful people in their field has probably taught me the most.

What advice would you give to others who want to start their own business?
For anyone who is looking to get involved in the food industry, my advice is to be unique; find something that no one else is doing, or if there is already a concept, take that idea a notch or two up. Always remember, just like anything in life, business is a never ending learning experience, and when you fail (because you will at first), get back up! I've closed down four businesses yet I was always still thinking of my next new venture.

For more information on how the Guam SBDC can assist you, visit

Monday, October 2, 2017

The Modern Bump: The Boutique for Moms-to-Be

By: Jane Ray
Business Advisor
(Guam SBDC)

Good news to all hip mothers and newborns on Guam!  A new store solely dedicated to all of your needs has just arrived on the market.  It is not a big secret that many moms on Guam have resorted to the Internet to look for the latest and greatest supplies for themselves and their young ones.  Unfortunately, sometimes we just do not have the patience to wait for it to arrive in snail mail.  Now, there is a new store on Guam that is dedicating their efforts in satisfying the trending needs of mothers and babies.      

The Modern Bump opened their doors in November 2016 with the idea to provide local expecting and nursing moms with options to have comfortable, modern, and stylish  maternity wear.  The focus of the store is to bring in modern wear for all stages of pregnancy in addition to baby clothing and accessories for baby related products.  Ednalyna Martin, owner of The Modern Bump, a dedicated mom and teacher, understood and experienced the difficulty of finding a limited selection when she was going through her pregnancies. 

Ednalyna is a school teacher at heart and part of a family of five with two adorable, outgoing girls and a beautiful angel baby boy.  She saw the need of providing modern style maternity wear to moms everywhere.  Inspired by her two daughters and students, she decided to pursue her own dream of business ownership.  At the beginning of her business, she was fearful of venturing into business and hesitant to apply for a commercial loan to help with her business needs.  She felt pressure and first had to use her family’s savings to fund the startup.  She started her business at a booth at the Agana Shopping Center’s Market Place.       

She was referred to seek the assistance from the Guam Small Business Development Center (SBDC) and further plan her business.  In addition, she was looking for assistance and guidance to manage and run a business.  An SBDC Business Advisor was able to guide and provide her with a clear path.  She felt more confident in the business plan that she had developed and is now more informed when evaluating her daily business decisions.  She does not only base her decisions on her knowledge but also incorporates and listens to inputs from her greatest business partners: her customers.

She feels that the biggest challenge in the startup process was taking the first leaps of faith and deciding to become a business owner.  After encouraging her students to believe in themselves and follow their dreams, she decided that she needed to do the same.  She believes that working hard and not giving up are the keys to becoming a successful entrepreneur.  Another factor that has helped her during the startup process is having supportive friends and family that helped her during the first few months of opening the first store and the grand opening of the second location.  Because of the enormous support that she received, she was able to turn her dream into reality which entailed moving from the Market Place upstairs to the 1st floor of the Agana Shopping Center on July 1st this year. 

Modern Bump offers a variety of pre- and postnatal maternity wear that are modern in style.  Additionally, it carries baby apparels, including locally made brand names, accessories, strollers, and earth-friendly cloth diapers.  You can visit them on the 1st floor of Agana Shopping Center, located not too far from Tony Roma’s or you check them out on Facebook at to see the latest products and promotions.    

For more information on how the Guam SBDC can assist you, contact their main office at 671-735-2590 or visit  

Friday, September 1, 2017

An Interview with Nancy Barnhouse, Island CERTS Corporation President

Interviewed by: Denise Mendiola
Senior Business Advisor/Bank of Guam WIB Program Coordinator
(Guam SBDC)

Head shot photo of Nancy Barnhouse
Nancy Barnhouse, President
Island CERTS Corporation
David A. Barnhouse moved his family to Guam in 1987 to work for International Bridge Corporation and worked for that corporation for more than a decade. After many years in the construction industry, David believed that he had much to offer the industry and wanted to be his own boss, so he opened Island CERTS, a sole proprietorship, in 2000. Thirteen years later David and Nancy married and decided to incorporate. In October 2014, Island CERTS Corporation began. From two employees to 13, the company has grown substantially in three years. Their employees do heavy machinery inspections and repairs, safety training, all NDT weld inspections, DOT fuel tank inspections, and above-ground tank inspections. Island CERTS Corporation also has a general contractor’s license and focuses on jobs that require the use of one of their two cranes. They also rent their two cranes with operators as well as their telehandler and soon will offer NACE coating inspections. The SBDC caught up with Nancy to talk about her experience with the business expansion. 

What experience do you have in this type of business?
While expanding the company might have been natural for David, who had years of supervisory experience and a history in running his own business, I had been a journalist and a teacher and had no business experience whatsoever. Because of that fact, I sought out three things: Business courses, business seminars, and mentors. For example, taking three accounting courses taught me that we needed an experienced bookkeeper. The Guam Small Business Development Center (Guam SBDC) provided training, specifically a seminar on Profit Mastery taught me how to understand the “break even” point of our business. The Guam Procurement Technical Assistance Center (Guam PTAC) helped us become woman-owned, HUB certified. Along the way, I also learned that I had a knack for running our company with David. Expanding the business has been a natural consequence of having customers who have asked us to do more work for them. During the past few years, the economy had picked up on Guam and more of our customers have asked for more services, and in turn, we have hired more people to help our customers. In the middle of that rosy business trend, however, the H-2 worker crisis has stalled most businesses and the downturn has hit us and most of our customers hard. Without a skilled labor force, contracts cannot be fulfilled and those companies do not need our services. From expansion to keeping even has been stressful. Families on the payroll have car payments and rent payments and mortgages whether the economy is ticking or still.

How did the Small Business Development Center and other resources help you?
Whether the business is ticking or still, it is always necessary to strengthen the core foundation of any business, and the Guam SBDC has helped our company immensely. Since I began working with Denise Mendiola, I have felt that our business has had a gentle hand to guide our company. First, she helped me learn to do a professional business plan. From there, she helped us get bank financing to buy land and build a shop. During this downturn, she has helped us analyze the business and see what steps we need to take to sustain ourselves until the economy takes a brighter turn. Still, even in this downturn, we have sustained our expansion plans. This has been frightening and exciting, like flying through turbulence while sipping champagne inside the cabin. What has made this feel safe and sustainable, we have had people with a lot of business experience help us. Besides the Guam SBDC and the Guam PTAC, Jerry Paulino, a local realtor, has mentored me from start to finish, from understanding due diligence to warranty titles, from reminding me to be kind and calm to helping me see the joy in each step. Dave Burger, a local accountant, has helped me understand the financial steps the company has needed to take. Ho Eun of Coretech, has patiently guided us through the buying steps of owning our own property. Renee Wade and the Bank of Guam has helped us steer through the complicated loan process. Kim Anderson at Security Title has counseled us to understand the legal language that surrounds land quick claims and government agreements. If it was not for these more experienced business people, I believe that we would have crashed in the turbulence.

What were some of the biggest challenges you experienced throughout the process?
Photo of Nancy Barnhouse pulling a lever to lift a white truck for a vehicle maintenance checkThe biggest turbulence in this expansion has been my basic lack of knowledge. While my husband is an expert in construction and cranes, and I have a Master’s Degree in English Literature, these are not skills that teach a person how to expand a business, buy land or get financing. Because of these challenges, we needed help, and fortunately, Guam is a culture of kindness and generosity. Many people have opened doors for us, listened kindly to our questions, offered wise answers and guided us through every step.

What is your most memorable triumph?
While we have made mistakes like all entrepreneurs, our triumph has been to get financing for our land, new shop and office building and to buy a second crane. In addition, our triumph has been to continue to enjoy running our business together and to continue to see the joy in being business owners. With all kidding aside, the highest divorce rate among couples is when they go into business together. Fortunately for us, it has made our marriage stronger, and we have enjoyed each other’s individual talents. I tend to be the air-traffic controller and he tends to be the pilot of our plane. It works for us and hopefully it will continue to help our business thrive.

What are your short-term and long-term plans for your business?
Our short-term plan to help our business thrive is to build our warehouse and move into our own office space we own. We want to train our people into management positions, so the company is less of a “key man” operation and more of a company that can run whether we are there or not. Eventually, like most business people, we want to sell our business at a profit and retire.

What advice would you give to others who want to start a business at this time?
Looking back on the last four years, I would say that it has been a turbulent ride, but it has been rewarding and invigorating, and I would not trade this experience. If I were to tell anyone who wanted to start or expand his or her business, I would say to find good mentors and take advantage of the great resources available, including the SBDC and the Guam PTAC along with other business associations. Do not be afraid to ask for help and find mentors along the way. These people have insight, and they can help you with each step of the process.

For more information on the Guam SBDC Bank of Guam Women in Business Program, contact Denise Mendiola at 

Friday, June 9, 2017

Hooker’s Fusion: A Taste of Japanese-Inspired Street Food

By: Jane Ray
Business Advisor
(Guam SBDC)

EJ and Nao Hooker are a couple with a diverse background and a strong passion and love of entertaining friends and family.  They decided to employ their passion for food and ventured into the opportunity of entrepreneurship.  EJ was a world traveler as part of his job as a Navy Enlisted Sailor and retired recently after 20 years of service.  He is a California native while Nao is originally from Tokyo, Japan.  She has extensive background experience as a Sous Chef from her time in Japan.  The couple’s passion can be seen and tasted through the food that they create and prepare together. 

As an experiment, Nao created her own Asian Yakisoba sauce.  Their business, Hooker’s Fusion, has several bestselling items; Takoyaki balls with squid and their specially prepared Hooker’s Takoyaki sauce.  The Takoyaki is made differently than anyone else’s on Guam.  They also have stir fried Yakisoba noodles and cabbage with your choice of beef, chicken, or shrimp. 

 EJ and Nao do not only focus on using the freshest ingredients available for their dishes. They also demonstrate their firm commitment towards each of their customers.  Hooker’s key philosophy is to serve high quality, delicious food with great reverence for Omotenashi, which simply means the Japanese way of treating a customer with welcoming spirit, warmth, understanding, and above all, respect.  This concept resonates from Ichigo-ichie which is the host’s belief that every encounter is single and unique.  Their strong focus on serving each of their customers with the most aspiring and special experience is another part of the ingredient of their business.        

After extensive testing of their special sauces and dishes, EJ and Nao conducted several surveys and decided that it was time to move to the next level.  They came to the Guam Small Business Development Center for guidance to make their dream into reality.  Guam SBDC assisted them in researching business numbers on the financial plan and revising content within the business plan.  They believe that Guam SBDC was a crucial part of helping them reach their goals and turn their dream into reality.  Starting a business is a complicated process and Guam SBDC was able to help with the ins and outs of starting their business. 

The most memorable triumph in the startup process was getting their business license.  They realized that, at that moment, there was no turning back after the initial milestone.  The short-term goal for their business is to have an ecofriendly food truck while maintaining quality and tasty food at affordable pricing throughout Guam.  EJ and Nao believe that the key questions they should constantly ask themselves are whether or not their food is inexpensive, healthy, convenient, and tasty for their customers.  Ultimately, the key goal is to satisfy the needs of the people on Guam.             
The one piece advice that EJ and Nao have for all new entrepreneurs who wish to explore the opportunity is to start and continue through the entire startup process as there will be detours in the road.  Do not get discouraged based on a bump on the road.  It is important to remember that the process is not a sprint but is a marathon.  A firm commitment to the business and your customers is the key ingredient to a successful business.    

For more information, you can contact EJ at 671-848-2543 or email   

Friday, June 2, 2017

Nabeyama Aquaculture Ensuring Food Security with Aquaculture

By: Ltelatk Fritz
Center Director/Business Advisor
(Palau SBDC)

Nabeyama Aquaculture is located in Lalou of Ngatpang State in the Republic of Palau. Owned and managed by Rubeang Hiromi Nabeyama and his children. Mr. Nabeyama demonstrated his determination in aquaculture by opening his own farm business growing milkfish (Aol), mangrove crab (Chemang), two species of rabbitfish (Klsebuul and Meas), and various species of giant clams (Kim). The newly opened farm is conveniently along the Compact Road on the Eastern coast of Babeldaob. Nabeyama began with giant clam farm over a decade ago. Later on, Nabeyama got into mangrove crab farming. In 2016, Nabeyama furthered his interest in aquaculture by participating in trips with the Ngerdubch Corporation to the Philippines to learn more about fish farming. Nabeyama Aquaculture is now in full operation, with stocks of rabbitfish, mangrove crabs, and giant clams being raised on the farm. The farm also conducted tours for elementary school students during the recent Educational Awareness Week in March; tours are also available for locals and tourists alike.

Why did you decide to start your own business?
In the interview, Mr. Nabeyama states that “merael mo diak a ngikel,” which means the fish are decreasing. His vision is to ensure food security for Palau with local favorites through aquaculture—harvesting raised fish and leaving the wild fish stock time to recover. His plan is to raise fish sustainably, sell them at competitive prices, provide healthy food choices, and contribute to research in Palau’s aquaculture. Nabeyama plans to add a local species of shrimp to his farm.

What experience do you have in this type of business?
Over 10 years ago, Mr. Nabeyama planted his roots in aquaculture through giant clam farming. After that, Nabeyama added mangrove crabs to his repertoire. More recently, he attended field trips to the Philippines with the Ngerdubch Corporation to learn more about fish farming and aquaculture. The small, commercial-scale farm is a direct result of Nabeyama’s participation in Palau’s aquaculture industry and the agriculture/aquaculture loan packages available at the National Development Bank of Palau.

How did the Small Business Development Center help you?
Palau SBDC helped Nabeyama with his aquaculture loan application package at National Development Bank of Palau. The Center helped him develop realistic financial projections for business plan for his farm, Nabeyama Aquaculture.

What was the start-up process like? How did you fund your business?
Nabeyama Aquaculture was started initial with personal investments by Mr. Nabeyama. With the help of an unsecured loan from NDPB, Nabeyama was able to push the project forward when funds were low. His investment in the farm includes the land (both used as collateral and used as the farm), personal funds, and a lot of help from his family. The success of the project will also be funded by the proceeds from the aquaculture loan Mr. Nabeyama secured from NDBP, that will be used to purchase fish stocks and feed, and to help progress the project closer towards full capacity.

What were some of the biggest challenges you experienced during the pre-development and start-up process?
There were many challenges along the way, including developing the land into its current state. The pre-development process took about six months in which the part of the adjacent mangrove forest was cleared and the two fishponds were excavated. Another hurdle in the process was the length of time and cost of obtaining an Environmental Assessment (EA), as a requirement for the Environmental Quality Protection permit.
During this pre-development process, Mr. Nabeyama invested a lot of his time, personal funds, and effort into the farm. Nabeyama’s children also spent a lot of time and effort helping in the farm development.

What are your short-term and long-term plans for your business?
Nabeyama plans to expand his farm north along the coastal edge of his property. Additional ponds will be excavated, then stocked with more fish, crabs, and shrimp to meet the anticipated demand for locally produced seafood products. Nabeyama also plans to include tours of the farm as an aqua-tourism activity to experience a different marine ecosystem and habitat. Visitors will be able to purchase freshly harvested fish or enjoy hot meals made with the products from the farm.

What advice would you give to others who want to start an aquaculture farm in Palau?
First of all it requires a lot of knowledge in the various species, systems, and nature itself. Workers, and farm owners, require training to understand feeding and maintenance of species. An understanding of the tides and tidal effects on the ponds and fish are equally important, as this may vary with time and place. Business owners must understand the importance of EQPB (Environmental Quality Protection) permits and be aware of the costs of obtaining such permits. Lastly, State Governments need to do its part in identifying areas suitable for aquaculture and enabling individuals or business to conduct much needed economic activities through proper legislations, such as reclassifying areas for aquaculture.

Nabeyama Aquaculture is located in Ngimis, Ngatpang open daily from 7:30am - 4:30pm. For more information on their services, they can be reached at 680-535-1045.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

HATSA Guam Raises the Bar in Wellness and Fitness

By: Denise Mendiola
Senior Business Advisor/WIB Program Coordinator
(Guam SBDC)

After years living and working in Las Vegas, Inarajan native, Ray Chargualaf Jr. decided to pack up his growing family and move back home. With a Bachelor’s Degree in Kinesiology, a Master’s Degree in Sports Education and Leadership and business ownership experience, it was only natural that Ray would eventually start his own business on Guam. Ray observed that there was a huge need to help people who were not meeting their fitness and wellness goals. He saw a specific niche that he believed was not available and knew that with his experience as a professional trainer, he could bring value to the community.  This was the beginning of HATSA Guam: Helping.All.Types.Sizes.Ages.  

When going into business, it is always best to use your strengths and do something you know.  Ray has lectured Fortune 500 companies on wellness and worked for some of the most well respected physical trainers in Las Vegas.  He quickly had a following of loyal clients and his reputation as an effective trainer spread.  One of his biggest career highlights was training multiple contestants on NBC’s Biggest Loser.  With all of this experience under his belt, Ray felt confident that he could provide a unique service after identifying his target market on Guam. Ray sought the assistance Denise Mendiola, Senior Business Advisor, at the Guam Small Business Development Center. “The SBDC helped me become more organized and structured with a sense of direction. It's a service I would recommend to those that need business advice.” 

While some may find business start-up daunting, Ray found the process fairly simple. “Because of my previous business experience, the licensing and permitting was not a difficult process. I used whatever cash I had to start up which wasn't much. I wanted to prove my model worked before I committed to the business long term. I had no intention of ever getting a loan because starting with debt is not the best way to become successful.”  With every new business comes challenges. Ray soon realized that the biggest challenge he faced starting up was convincing his customers that they didn’t need infrastructure, equipment, or amenities to provide his service.  “Many people need to see tangible items to know where exactly their money is being spent and I can understand that, but we were out to provide an experience. After only 2 weeks, we expanded our customers by 300%.”

Business ownership means there will be risks and rewards.  Ray shared that his most memorable triumph in the start-up process was introducing his corporate wellness program with Bank of Guam. After Ray announced the launch of his new business, the bank reached out to him after only 2 days to start an account. From there business grew to 4 more new corporate accounts. 

Ray Chargualaf has a clear vision for HATSA Guam. “Our short term plan is to launch our second phase to our program within the next couple weeks to provide a full service commodity. Our long term plan is to have a permanent infrastructure to house all of our services to our customers. My advice to others looking to start their own business is to not be afraid to take risk. Be confident and trust the process.” For more information on HÅTSA Guam, visit their FaceBook page: or e-mail 

Monday, May 8, 2017

ChamGlam Botanika: Infusing Local Herbs and Flowers into Eco-conscious Beauty Products

ChamGlam Botanika products: PC - Jess Merrill
ChamGlam Botanika is owned by Ursula Herrera and PJ San Nicolas, who have extensive experience in herbalism and agriculture.  After 13 years in Seattle, Ursula decided to return to Guam and learn more about the plant medicine of her MotherIsland. Upon returning, she quickly immersed herself in the perpetuation of åmot Chamoru. She aligned herself with the Håya Foundation, which is a local non-profit organization that focuses on perpetuating the traditional plant medicine of Guam and the Marianas, and began her beloved apprenticeship with local herbal healers, suruhånu/a (yo’åmte). Being a lover of all things holistic and nature based, making local infused flower oils and flower tinted lip stains became an avid interest. By combining her expertise of plant medicine and love of luxurious eco-conscious beauty products, ChamGlam was born.

PJ San Nicolas received his B.S. in Tropical Agriculture in 2015. He has also been working with the Håya Foundation as its nurseryman for their medicinal plant inventory. He has always had a strong entrepreneurial desire to own his own business. He also uses his experience and knowledge in purchasing farming land and engineering a design to grow ChamGlam’s ingredients locally. They have a two year old son named Ifit. He loves cookies, kådu, and picking flowers for Mama.

Why did you decide to start your own business?
We decided to start this business because we want to provide luxurious, eco- conscious botanical skin care using the plant essences found here on our beautiful island. Accessibility of organic skincare products to our local consumers and a fair trade sourcing of plants is important to the health of our community. In the end we harvest local herbs and flowers to create a product that our consumers can trust. Farm-to-Face.

What experience do you have in this type of business?
I have a BSc. in Herbal Science and a love for wild crafting plants and formulating medicinal tinctures and tea blends. Making lip balms, hydrosols, and infused body oils was always a side hobby. We can have the best of both worlds, eco conscious beauty products and embrace current beauty trends, without compromise. Green beauty means a cleaner lifestyle as nature intended. From skincare to foods, we must care for our island sustainably for future generations. By nourishing ourselves, we can then nourish our community.

Owners PJ San Nicolas and Ursula Herrera
How did the Small Business Development Center and other resources help you?
They helped us focus our ideas and streamline the whole process. They were never intimidating. After each class, we felt our dreams becoming a reality. Empowering, really! Denise Mendiola and the GUMA team made themselves available to answer any questions we had. Their guidance and valuable advice helped quell any doubt and gave us the confidence to make our dreams come to fruition.

What was the start-up process like? How did you fund your business?
We participated in the GUMA (Guam Unique Merchandise and Arts) Program in January 2016, which lasted 12 weeks. Together with SBDC, GUMA mentored us to create our business plan and business model. They helped shape our ideas and conceptualize the final product. We made it through to GUMA’s version of ‘shark tank’ and through the GUMA Program for cultural producers, ChamGlam Botanika got funded.

What were some of the biggest challenges/experienced you experienced in the start-up process?
Self-doubt. But every Saturday, we were re-inspired. We were surrounded by amazing artists who were just as committed and so encouraging. The camaraderie and inafa’maolek spirit won. There was no room for self-doubt. Only ways to become better. There were times when the whole process was intimidating and daunting, but the hands on experience and the guidance received was immeasurable. There were no wrong or dumb questions. SBDC and GUMA reiterated that even if you didn’t make the incubation program, you’d still be able to take your business plan to a bank, CONFIDENTLY!

What is your most memorable triumph in your start-up process?
There was this one team exercise where I was able to actually see the concept that lived in my head, come to life. It was illustrated so beautifully by my classmate Amber. I was so emotional! The design concept changed and evolved since then, but it was at that moment that I knew that this daydream was going to come true. Oh and the day we got the call that ChamGlam Botanika was going to get funded! Yay! We made it through shark tank, or dolphin tank!

What are your short-term and long-term plans for your business?
Short term- Getting the word out to our local community that we have an eco-luxe product. We want to provide our community with nontoxic alternatives to everyday beauty products, and be the inspiration to making cleaner and greener choices.

ChamGlam Botanika products: PC - Jess Merrill
Long term- Creating more skincare products to fit our eco conscious lifestyle and needs. Guåhan’s healing flora has a place in the green beauty world. ChamGlam aims to showcase our eco paradise life beauty internationally.

What advice would you give to others who want to start a business at this time?
This all really started with a daydream. If you wake up every day thinking of owning your own business and it consumes you, do it! Our island has so much amazing talent and inspiring ideas. Don’t hold back. We need to invest more into our local economy. Supporting local is the best way we can ensure a sustainable

Guåhan for our nenis. Invest your amazing ideas into Guåhan. We have the resources right here on our beautiful island to guide you. Make your daydreams come true!

You can find ChamGlam Botanika products at the GUMA Gallery in Chamorro Village from Monday thru Saturday between 10am – 6pm, Wednesdays are open until 9pm; and Sundays from 10am – 3pm.

Friday, March 24, 2017

FJ Green Tech Owner’s Motivation for Self-Employment

People start businesses for many reasons whether it is for self-fulfillment, pursuing a passion, or providing a needed skill or product. It can also be a combination of many reasons or like John Johnson, it is a plan for after retirement. Johnson will be retiring from the military soon and to supplement the potential loss of income and to support and sustain his lifestyle after retirement, he decided to start a business. In his previous work experience, he worked in the federal government and for a golf course which involved landscaping and general maintenance. This gave him the idea to open FJ Green Tech. The company specializes in lawn care, tree pruning, edging, hedge trimming, weed control, water blasting, light metal fabrications, and equipment rental. 

For Johnson, the start-up process “was actually very easy.” He did some research online and found the SBDC through a friend. He registered for a few classes and learned how to manage a small business, write a business plan, and a financial plan. Some of the SBDC workshops involved the Small Business Administration (SBA) on how business loans work. Johnson stated that even after attending the workshops, SBDC was always available to answer his questions that he didn’t understand which helped him put things into perspective. He continued on to say that the SBDC Business Advisor was able to direct him to the right people and assist on finalizing his financial plan. It took him less than a week to turn in his loan application and get approved to start his business.

One of the challenges Johnson mentioned is the actual preparation of the financial plan, but credited SBDC on their assistance and guidance to make the process manageable. He did name that setting realistic goals and doing the research on the equipment needed was the biggest challenge he faced. Although Johnson’s company is just a couple months old, his triumphs include maintaining repeat customers, breaking above even, and securing his first contract with a government agency. FJ Green Tech aims to acquire a few more government agency contracts within a year and eventually in the long-run, have this business as his main source of income and possibly open another business venture.

John Johnson is a father of two children and is married to Desiree Johnson.  To entrepreneurs, Johnson says, “Be persistent, stay motivated, and focus on your goals.” To learn more about FJ Green Tech’s services, you can visit their Facebook page or call 487-0019/9408. 

Friday, March 17, 2017

Kosrae SBDC Welcomes New Business Advisor

By: Skiller Jackson
Center Director/Business Advisor
(Kosrae SBDC)

Ms. Emily Sam O’Steen joined the Kosrae SBDC as the new Business Advisor on the first week of October 2016. M. O’steen worked for the Kosrae government as a student intern with the FSM Finance for three months and joined the Division of Statistics as a Census Enumerator for eight months. She also worked at the Department of Education, Kosrae State as a classroom teacher for five years.

Ms. O’Steen left Kosrae to join her husband who was recruited for the US Armed Forces in 2008. She was hired by the AAFES Exchange in Fort Hood, Texas as a sales clerk. After her husband’s medical retirement with the US Military around June 2013, Ms. O’Steen came back with her family to Kosrae where she started working for the Kosrae State Government.

On October 2016, Ms. O’Steen was hired by the Kosrae SBDC as the new Business Advisor.

With the knowledge and skills that Ms. O’Steen brought with her to the Kosrae SBDC, we are fortunate to have such an asset to help the Kosrae small business community. 

Friday, March 10, 2017

LCM Pharmaceutical Now Open: Palau’s Only Independently Owned Pharmacy

By: Ltelatk Fritz
Center Director/Business Advisor
(Palau SBDC)

Owner Clarette Matlab
LCM Enterprise dba LCM Pharmaceutical became Palau’s only independently owned pharmacy as its doors were officially opened for business on Saturday, January 28, 2017. The owner, Ms. Clarette Matlab, is a full-time, licensed pharmacist who has been working at the Belau National Hospital for 20 years. She began her career as a nurse before moving into pharmaceuticals. During her eight-year tenure as a pharmacist, Clarette saw a need for better access and options for medications in the local community. Many times, patients are unable to get their prescriptions filled because of the shortage of supply at the national hospital. With the opening of LCM Pharmaceutical, Palauans have access to another source of affordable prescriptions.

She first approached Palau SBDC seeking assistance to start her business in 2009. It has been a long process of working out details for a business plan, which is often required for business (commercial) loans at both development banks—like NDBP—and commercial banks—like Bank of Guam, Bank of Hawaii, and Bank Pacific. Palau SBDC provided one-on-one counseling with Clarette to help refine her business plans and financial projections. Along the way, Clarette encountered many challenges in the planning process such as finding the right software—for the business and pharmacy operations—and establishing financial projections for her start-up company. However, Clarette acknowledged the importance of planning it out on paper and anticipating potential costs/issues and addressing the issues before starting the company, because trying to run a new company and dealing with problems at the same time will be overwhelming on the owner.

Clarette opened LCM Pharmaceutical/PacifikaMed Pharmacy to provide quality medicine and personal health products at affordable prices. With the technical assistance from Palau SBDC, Clarette was able to complete a comprehensive business plan and detailed financial projections for her loan application package with the N

ational Development Bank of Palau. Clarette was able launch LCM Pharmaceutical/PacifikaMed with her savings, a loan from NDBP, and in-kind assistance from friends and family. 

LCM Pharmaceutical/PacifikaMed created four new jobs in the local community. Some of the challenges Clarette encountered during the long process is getting things done on time (especially working full-time), figuring out the financials, and sticking to her commitment. Eventually, Clarette plans to include other health services such as diagnostic laboratory services and counseling services—lifestyle (NCD) support.

LCM Enterprise doing business as LCM Pharmaceutical/PacifikaMed is located at Meketii hamlet in the old family bakery. Business hours are Monday – Saturday from 9 am to 6 pm.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Custom Fitness

Custom Fitness is a functional fitness facility and physical therapy clinic. Some of the services they offer are cross-fit kids’ classes, cross-fit classes, teen strengthening and conditioning classes, as well as personal training, yoga and mobility. 

"When we decided to open Custom Fitness, we really had no idea what we were doing. None of us had ever done anything like this before and were basically leaping head first into something completely unknown and we happened upon Denise Mendiola at the SBDC. She really guided us along the way, helped us develop our business plan, and develop financial models that we could present to the bank. She basically gave us the rundown of what to do. All we knew was that we wanted to open a business and we needed money to do it and a place to open it and we had a dream and a goal and we just needed help nurturing that.” – Samantha King Sablan 

“If I had any advice for someone trying to start their business, I’d definitely tell them to not give up. It’s hard work. It’s a lot of sweat and tears, but in the end it will be worth it if it’s something you truly believe in.” – Samantha King Sablan 

Custom Fitness is located in Anigua and open on M-F from 5:30am - 7:30pm; Saturday from 6:00am - 12:00pm; and closed on Sundays. For more information on their services, visit or call 989-0436.

An Interview with Jessica Stout of Bonita Trading Co.

Jessica Stout is a wife, mother of three, and business owner of Bonita Trading Co. along with Joe Leon Guerrero & Margaret Leon Guerrero. This locally owned and family run business offers hair and baby accessories and kid-friendly apparel designs under their brands: Bonita Baby, Kidd Pacific, and The Original Guam Polo Collection are inspired by their children, culture, and love for Guam. Jessica discussed her business venture journey through the challenges and triumphs and also talked about what lies in store for Bonita Trading Co. 

Please tell us about yourself and your family.  I’m a Wife (to Michael) and Mommy to 3 wonderful children:  Celia, Michael and Olivia. 

Why did you decide to start your own business? My business was inspired by two things:  A passionate hobby and the desire to pass on our culture to my children.  I realized that the selection of unique and locally inspired children’s gear was very minimal and found my niche in designing and creating, alongside my brother Joe, some kid-friendly designs that were Guam themed.
     What experience do you have in this type of business?  I have an MBA and a background in sales and finance. While becoming a business owner seemed like a natural progression, I really didn’t have any experience in the retail or craft business.  I learned a lot from other business owners and artists.  I also read through business articles and trade blogs online.

    How did the Small Business Development Center and other resources help you?  The Small Business Development Center really helped me to identify my business objectives,   develop realistic steps to reaching my goals, and formulate a solid direction to take my business.  Even though I already have my business plan in full motion – it’s comforting to know that if I have any other questions or concerns, the team at SBDC is always there to help me. 
     What was the start-up process like? How did you fund your business?  We self -funded our business from the start so our inventory was fairly small and selective to only the items we really wanted to bring to market.  However, last year, we were fortunate enough to receive a grant which helped us launch our newest clothing line – the Guam Polo Collection.

What were some of the biggest challenges/experienced you experienced in the start-up process?  I believe in any business, funding is always a big challenge.  We just started small and continued to reinvest in our business.  We took baby steps to get to a comfortable point.  Self-doubt was something I also had to get over.  There were times I wondered if my business was going anywhere, but when I have customers send me photos of their babies and children in their Guam bibs or Guam Seal headbands or Hafa Adai tee shirts – that’s when I know the challenges have been worth it.
What is your most memorable triumph in your start-up process?  I have two memorable triumphs:  Starting a collective boutique with talented female artists from around the island was just amazing.  You can’t help but to draw inspiration from like-minded women who just want to help lift you up.  I have so much gratitude for the experience. Also, being the recipient of the Guam Unique Merchandise and Art Grant was truly memorable.  Having some of Guam’s most successful business men and women believe in you and your products is so encouraging.

What are your short-term and long-term plans for your business?  For Bonita Baby and Kid Pacific, in the short-term, we are launching our very own storefront in just a few weeks.  It is truly an exciting time for us. In addition, we have a lot of new ideas and designs that we will release throughout the year. Longer term, we just want to continue on with our mission of cultivating and preserving our beautiful Chamorro culture through our kid-friendly products.
What advice would you give to others who want to start a business at this time? Starting a business is frightening and amazing all at the same time-- but you won’t ever regret believing in yourself and putting your ideas out there.  All it takes is a vision, determination, and that very first step.  I believe Guam is ripe for new businesses.
For more information on Bonita Baby and Kid Pacific items, visit You can find their products at the Guam Art Boutique and GUMA Store in Chamorro Village, Neni & Me in Sagua Managu in Tamuning, and Two Lover’s Point Gift Shop. Be on the lookout in March 2017 as they open their storefront in Hagatna directly besidre Buzzcuts & Ponytails.

To find out how the Guam SBDC can assist you start or expand your business, visit or call their main office at 671-735-2590.