It’s Small Business Week – and that means that it is time to salute some of the vibrant businesses that make our communities strong.
One of our favorites is Hood Famous Bakeshop. Its story started in 2013, when owners Chera Amlag and George Quibuyen hosted a one-night pop-up in collaboration with a local Filipino restaurant. That one event quickly grew into a monthly dining pop-up series, helped launch their flagship ube cheesecake, and set them on the path to opening their first bakeshop and retail counter in Ballard in 2016.
Then, as business continued to grow with additional catering and wholesale accounts, they set out to find a second location from which to sell their popular Filipino sweets.
Seattle’s historic Chinatown-International District (C-ID) was the obvious first choice. Both Chera and George had worked for years in C-ID-based arts and community service organizations, a vibrant time in their lives with experiences that still inform their work today.
But the C-ID has experienced challenges with growth over the past few years. Longtime residents have seen housing costs become unaffordable, and many of the small immigrant-owned businesses that make the C-ID vibrant are unable to keep up with rising rents. Longtime residents and business owners agree: the hard-earned social and cultural identities of the C-ID are at risk.
Chera returned to her alma mater UW in 2016 to go through the Business Growth Collaborative, a business accelerator program at the Foster School of Business. Business Growth Collaborative was created specifically to help entrepreneur-of-color-owned businesses grow and gain access to management training, capital, and markets. The program helped Hood Famous Bakeshop refine their business plan for the second location, which enabled them to identify a commercial space in the historic Publix Hotel.
Funding was the next step – and the University of Washington referred them to Craft3 and Business Impact NW, which they had worked with in the past. The loan represents one of the first times that the two loan funds (both with offices in Seattle) have invested jointly – a sign of a growing commitment to collaborate to build strong economies together. A portion of the financing was supported by SBA’s Community Advantage loan guarantee program, which helps lenders invest in important projects like Hood Famous.
So for Small Business Week, we hope you take a moment to swing through the Chinatown-International District to try some ube cheesecake at Hood Famous Cafe + Bar. And while you’re there, fill up on all the other great food at small businesses that helped make Seattle the vibrant place it is today. You – and your stomach – won’t regret it.