15 episodes

Small Biz Stories introduces you to the bravest people you’ll ever meet — small business owners. From the initial spark that fueled their decision to get started, to the days where they questioned if it was all worth it, we’ll take you behind-the-scenes to hear how these businesses beat the odds to achieve their dreams.

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    • Business

Small Biz Stories introduces you to the bravest people you’ll ever meet — small business owners. From the initial spark that fueled their decision to get started, to the days where they questioned if it was all worth it, we’ll take you behind-the-scenes to hear how these businesses beat the odds to achieve their dreams.

    Honey Pot Hill Orchards – Small Biz Stories, Episode 8

    Honey Pot Hill Orchards – Small Biz Stories, Episode 8

    It’s that time of year when everyone goes crazy for warm sweaters, pumpkin carving and, depending on your location, apple picking. Here in New England it is the busiest season for apple orchards.

    Andrew and Chelcie Martin are third and fourth generation farmers at Honey Pot Hill Orchards in Stow, Massachusetts. In this episode, they share what it’s like to be part of a family business, how to deal with things that are out of your control, and what it takes to be a successful manager.

    Small Biz Stories tells the story of some of the bravest people you’ll ever meet — small business owners.

    You’ll hear how they got started, their biggest challenges, and their dreams for the future.

    Find us on Stitcher

    You can also read the transcript below:

    Small Biz Stories is brought to you by Constant Contact. Constant Contact is committed to helping small businesses and nonprofits connect to new and existing customers with email marketing. You can be a marketer, all it takes is Constant Contact. Find out more at ConstantContact.com.

    Andrew: As with any business, if you’re not morphing, and changing, and growing, you don’t have to be growing huge but growing, you’re slowly dying. Everything’s in change all the time, and so we try to look at what we can do better, or what we should add, or what might make a place more attractive to people. Even if it’s just something as simple as what variety mix we need to change and what type of trees we want to have for the future. People have the idea of a big old apple tree, but that isn’t really the future of apples. Much smaller trees is the future of apples. But also, we don’t want to change that too fast because people have this idea in their head of what apple trees should be when you come to pick apples.

    Dave: Andrew Martin is a third generation farmer at Honey Pot Hill Orchards in Stow Massachusetts. If you live in New England, you know how satisfying it is to taste the first apple cider doughnut of the season, stuff a bag full of fresh apples, and find new ways to eat apples for weeks to come.

    Our trip to Honey Pot Hill came with the added benefit of speaking with business owners Andrew and his daughter Chelcie. Sitting outside, listening to enthusiastic children and cicadas — yup those annoying bugs you just heard in the opening quote — Andrew and Chelcie shared the rich history of their farm and how they plan to keep the business going for generations to come.

    Today they share what it’s like to be part of a family business, how to deal with things that are out of your control, and their best management advice.

    More than fifty percent of small businesses fail within the first five years. These are the stories of those who beat the odds. My name is Dave Charest and I’ll be your host as we share the stories of some of the bravest people you’ll ever meet, small business owners. You’ll hear how they got started, their biggest challenges, and their dreams for the future.

    Dave: Andrew’s grandfather bought the family farm in 1926 af...

    • 24 min
    Blue Sparrow Pilates — Small Biz Stories, Episode 15

    Blue Sparrow Pilates — Small Biz Stories, Episode 15

    Holly Furgason is motivated by many things, but comfort isn’t one of them. As the owner of Blue Sparrow Pilates, Holly has learned how to overcome major challenges — from dissolving a business partnership to weathering a major financial crisis.

    Listen as she shares what it takes to keep a business running for over a decade and how to build a loyal audience.

    Find us on Stitcher

    You can also read the transcript below:

    Small Biz Stories is brought to you by Constant Contact. Constant Contact is committed to helping small businesses and nonprofits connect to new and existing customers with email marketing. You can be a marketer, all it takes is Constant Contact. Find out more at ConstantContact.com.

    Holly: I would say that I’m… first of all, I’m never comfortable. So far, there’s very few time periods, not even a month where I’m like, “Oh, this is so comfortable. I feel really good about where we are.” So I’m always looking at what can I improve.

    When I travel, when I go places outside of the Bay Area and within the Bay Area, I’m always doing more education for myself. I’m reading books about business. I read online blogs. I’m looking to other masters in the field of Pilates, like what are they doing in their neck of the woods, and how might that influence what I’m doing?

    Dave: Meet Holly Furgason, owner of Blue Sparrow Pilates in San Francisco, California. Like many of the business owners we’ve spoken with during our first two seasons, Holly is motivated by many things. But comfort isn’t one of them.

    Today, in our season finale, Holly shares the story of her studio. From the initial inspiration to the trying moments when she wished she could skip town and leave it all behind.

    More than fifty percent of small businesses fail within the first five years. These are the stories of those who beat the odds. My name is Dave Charest and I’ll be your host as we share the stories of some of the bravest people you’ll ever meet, small business owners. You’ll hear how they got started, their biggest challenges, and their dreams for the future.

    Dave: Many of us are consumed with the thought of starting our our business. But what’s the difference between people who think about going off on their own and those who actually do it? As Holly describes the days before owning her business, listen for three important things: conviction, creativity, and commitment.

    Holly: I grew up as an athlete, playing soccer, all kinds of things and then found dance and became really sort of pre-professional dancer and traveled all over to compete in dance-type conventions and competitions. And was convinced that I was gonna move to New York and dance professionally.

    And somewhere along the way, I found Pilates and Pilates has always been associated with dance because Joseph Pilates’ original studio was really close to Broadway and a lot of dancers found it and realized how much it could benefit their dance career.

    And so I found Pilates and completely fell in love with it and knew that I needed to become a teacher. And I’ve jumped back and forth across the country several times but came to California to go to grad school for dance at Mills College just here in Oakland and had started a studio.

    Dave: A dance studio?

    Holly: Pilates studio, yeah. I did my teacher training in Michigan and when I moved to California, I was already teaching Pilates and I worked for sev...

    • 20 min
    Felix the Cook — Small Biz Stories, Episode 14

    Felix the Cook — Small Biz Stories, Episode 14

    When Barbara Felix started her business, Felix the Cook, over ten years ago, she was looking for a way to provide for her family, while doing something she loved.

    Finding her sweet spot with custom-made sugar cookies, Barbara has attracted big name clients like Google Ventures, UPS, and The Four Seasons.

    How can your business do the same? Listen as Barbara shares her best secrets for attracting and delighting clients.

    Find us on Stitcher

    You can also read the transcript below:

    Small Biz Stories is brought to you by Constant Contact. Constant Contact is committed to helping small businesses and nonprofits connect to new and existing customers with email marketing. You can be a marketer, all it takes is Constant Contact. Find out more at ConstantContact.com.

    Barbara: I’ve spent plenty of time working in offices thinking, “How can I get out of here?” I am not a paper person. I don’t care what industry it’s in, I cannot stand sitting behind a desk.

    So with cookies, I just love being the boss and being the creative person. I get physically ill if I cannot create something.

    Dave: Meet Barbara Felix, owner of Felix the Cook. Like so many businesses owners, Barbara became her own boss to avoid a boring, cookie-cutter career. Starting a business of her own, Barbara has the freedom to spend her days as she likes — which in her case means delighting customers with custom-made sugar cookies.

    If you’ve ever wondered if you have what it takes to start a business — or if you’ve already started and you’re wondering how to take things to the next level, listen up. Today, Barbara shares her secrets for how a one-woman operation can use customer relationships to land big-name clients like Google Ventures, UPS, and The Four Seasons.



    More than fifty percent of small businesses fail within the first five years. These are the stories of those who beat the odds. My name is Dave Charest and I’ll be your host as we share the stories of some of the bravest people you’ll ever meet, small business owners. You’ll hear how they got started, their biggest challenges, and their dreams for the future.

    Dave: Many small businesses start with a combination of passion and necessity. When Barbara started her business over ten years ago, she was looking for a way to provide for her family, while doing something she loved. Listen as she describes her early attempts at finding the right fit and how an early mentor helped point her in the right direction.

    Barbara: Well, my dad was a cook. My dad always cooked at home. And I loved to play in the kitchen. I loved making things and my mother let me do whatever I want with butter, sugar and flour. So I have absolutely no fear of sweet stuff.

    And I grew up, got married, got divorced and decided I needed a career because I’ve been to high school, of course, but not much college. So there I was, a single mother with two children looking for something to do and I thought well, maybe I can take a cooking class and instead I decided to take the full program at the California Culinary Academy and do 16 months and come out as a chef.

    So I worked at a really fine restaurant for a couple years and then found it was just too difficult as a single mother to keep the hours of a kitchen, which were pretty brutal, and mind my kids. So I quit that and got into private chefing after a stint of making desserts for restaurants. There were a couple of small restaurants I worked for that didn’t have the time or the space to do their own pastry.

    • 18 min
    Cutting Edge Capital — Small Biz Stories, Episode 13

    Cutting Edge Capital — Small Biz Stories, Episode 13

    What am I doing to make the world a better place?

    That’s the question that motivated Brian Beckon to leave the corporate world in the hopes of building a more democratic and just economy.

    As a securities lawyer and Vice President of Cutting Edge Capital, Brian has the knowledge and passion necessary to help entrepreneurs raise funds from both wealthy and community investors.

    Listen as he shares the most challenging parts of enacting change — from overcoming skepticism to applying solutions that have never been done before.

    Find us on Stitcher

    You can also read the transcript below:

    Small Biz Stories is brought to you by Constant Contact. Constant Contact is committed to helping small businesses and nonprofits connect to new and existing customers with email marketing. You can be a marketer, all it takes is Constant Contact. Find out more at ConstantContact.com.

    Brian: And there’s something kind of amazing that happens when you really believe in what you’re doing. If you’re just doing a job, and you’re working hard for a long time without a break, you can burn out.

    But if you’re doing something you’re passionate about, you almost never burn out. You may get discouraged, but you keep on going. Whereas, if it’s just a job you get discouraged you quit, you find another job.

    That is probably more than anything what has gotten us through difficult times. It’s just that focus on something much bigger than any one of us or even bigger than the firm itself. It’s something really huge. We feel at the risk of sounding cocky or arrogant, we feel that we need to keep doing it because if we don’t do it who will?

    Dave: That’s Brian Beckon, Vice President of Cutting Edge Capital — a consulting firm that helps entrepreneurs raise funds from both wealthy and community investors. Like so many business owners and entrepreneurs, Brian strives to make a difference by doing work that he believes in. As a securities lawyer, Brian left the corporate world in the hopes of building a more democratic and just economy. Today, he shares the most challenging parts of enacting change — from overcoming skepticism and growing an audience to applying solutions that have never been done before.

    More than fifty percent of small businesses fail within the first five years. These are the stories of those who beat the odds. My name is Dave Charest and I’ll be your host as we share the stories of some of the bravest people you’ll ever meet, small business owners. You’ll hear how they got started, their biggest challenges, and their dreams for the future.

    Dave: Have you ever felt like you’re not living up to your potential? In Brian’s early days out of law school, this became the rock in his shoe. Rather than sticking to a clearly laid out career path, Brian tried a few different directions to find something more meaningful. Listen as he describes how he discovered his passion for building a more democratic economy.

    Brian: How far back can I go? I’m a lawyer. I’ve been practicing in law for about 25 years. I went to law school back in the late 80s because I was trying to figure out what can I do to you know, make the world a better place. And I didn’t really know what else to do with a humanities degree, and I figured well, I’ll go to law school.

    And I came out of law school, and did the obligatory Law Firm. I was in the law firm for about five and a half years, kind of burned out I said,

    • 23 min
    ARCH Art & Drafting Supply — Small Biz Stories, Episode 12

    ARCH Art & Drafting Supply — Small Biz Stories, Episode 12

    When Susie Coliver started ARCH Art & Drafting Supply at 24 years old, she never could have anticipated how her business would evolve over the next 38 years.

    From skyrocketing rent prices in San Francisco to the rise of digital drafting tools, Susie keeps her store going by facing trends head on and maintaining strong relationships with her customers and staff.

    Listen as she shares how to stay relevant in a changing market and how she’s built a dedicated customer base that keeps her business going.

    Find us on Stitcher

    Small Biz Stories is brought to you by Constant Contact. Constant Contact is committed to helping small businesses and nonprofits connect to new and existing customers with email marketing. You can be a marketer, all it takes is Constant Contact. Find out more at ConstantContact.com.

    You can also read the transcript below:

    Small Biz Stories is brought to you by Constant Contact. Constant Contact is committed to helping small businesses and nonprofits connect to new and existing customers with email marketing. You can be a marketer, all it takes is Constant Contact. Find out more at ConstantContact.com.

    Susie: For me, I think that we have all learned to be so efficient in the way we transact our days. We’re able to multitask so completely. We’re able to do so much from our desktop or our laptop or our telephone that you can actually go through days and days and days of never actually talking to anybody. From my inexperience, but long-term perspective, we all lose out in that equation. That being human, we need and want the connection.

    Dave: You just heard from Susie Coliver, an architectural designer and the owner of ARCH Drafting Supply. Since starting her business over 38 years ago, Susie has faced challenges within an evolving San Francisco and architectural community. From skyrocketing rent prices to the rise of digital drafting tools, Susie’s store remains a cherished part of her community because of the connections she’s developed with her customers and staff.

    Today, she shares how to stay relevant in a changing market and how she built a devoted customer base.

    More than fifty percent of small businesses fail within the first five years. These are the stories of those who beat the odds. My name is Dave Charest and I’ll be your host as we share the stories of some of the bravest people you’ll ever meet, small business owners. You’ll hear how they got started, their biggest challenges, and their dreams for the future.

    Dave: Susie’s path to becoming a business owner is an interesting one. While many people start a business to pursue their passion, Susie initially started her store as a way to finance the work she loved to do. Listen as she shares how she decided to start ARCH Drafting Supply at just 24 years old.

    Susie: I came out of a very people-focused architectural education. Right out of school, I started doing architectural community organizing in an underserved neighborhood in San Francisco called Bernal Heights that was starting to undergo gentrification.

    And there was an effort being made to provide opportunities for families who had always live...

    • 31 min
    SAME Café — Small Biz Stories, Episode 11

    SAME Café — Small Biz Stories, Episode 11

    When Libby and Brad Birky decided to start Colorado’s first pay-what-you-can restaurant, So All May Eat (or SAME) Café —  no one thought their idea would work.

    Now, after ten successful years in business, Libby and Brad share their story on the today’s episode of Small Biz Stories.

    Listen as they share how they transformed a unique idea into a thriving business.

    Find us on Stitcher

    Small Biz Stories is brought to you by Constant Contact. Constant Contact is committed to helping small businesses and nonprofits connect to new and existing customers with email marketing. You can be a marketer, all it takes is Constant Contact. Find out more at ConstantContact.com.

    You can also read the transcript below:

    Libby: I would say most people were really polite…

    Brad: Yes.

    Libby: …and listened and cheerleaded us. And I’m certain that as soon as we walked away, they were like, “Those morons.”

    Brad: Yeah. To our faces it was, “Oh, good for you guys! That’s great!” As soon as we turned around, “That’ll never work.”

    Libby: We’ve at least had one person admit to it.

    Brad: Yeah.

    Libby: Yeah. Who, you know, probably three or four years ago came back and said, “When you told me you were gonna do this, I thought you were nuts and that would never work. And here you are.’ I’m like, yeah, see.

    Dave: Ten years later.

    Libby: Yes, yes.

    Brad: Ten years later.

    Dave: That’s Libby and Brad Birky, co-founders of So All May Eat (or SAME) Café. Colorado’s first pay-what-you-can restaurant.

    Today, they’ll share what it takes to run a successful nonprofit restaurant. From their early sacrifices to the life-changing moments that make it all worth it, you’ll learn how they transformed a unique idea into a thriving business.

    More than fifty percent of small businesses fail within the first five years. These are the stories of those who beat the odds. My name is Dave Charest and I’ll be your host as we share the stories of some of the bravest people you’ll ever meet, small business owners. You’ll hear how they got started, their biggest challenges, and their dreams for the future.

    Dave: SAME Café sits on Colfax Avenue — the longest commercial street in the United States. Walk along this 26-mile street and you’ll come across a variety of mom and pop shops, including independent bookstores, record stores, iconic bars, and famous bakeries.

    But SAME café still manages to stand out. The café’s cornfield yellow walls, freshly cut wildflowers, and window tower garden take you out of the hustle of the city and into a place of comfort.

    Listen as Brad describes how he and Libby were first inspired to start their business.

    Brad: Let’s see. So Libby and I, we’re college sweethearts. We started dating when we were both in college in different states, did the whole long distance relationship thing, but we grew up within 20 minutes of each other.

    Our parents actually kind of knew each other. They were in similar fields. Our dads were both in road construction. Moms were both school-related workers. And so we just kind of fell into each other and started dating. And as soon as we graduated from college,

    • 33 min

Customer Reviews

LittleJerry10 ,

A great listen

The people showcased sound like real people that I know and want to know more about! Love hearing the passion in their voices when they talk about themselves and their business. Feel-good listening in bite sized portions. I’m into it!

KLoanes_91 ,

Great New Podcast

Super compelling and relatable stories so far. Can't wait to hear what's next!

RachelJGraham ,

I love it!

I love this podcast! It's so great to hear what goes on behind the scenes with real people -

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