“Without Mercy Corps Northwest, we wouldn’t have been able to open this business. They had faith in us when a lot of people didn’t.”
When Anne Thompson considered expanding her eco-friendly upholstery business in 2011, Mercy Corps Northwest (MCNW) provided her with two important resources:a small business loan and one-on-one counseling from a volunteer accounting consultant. Anne’s company, Acanthus, recently moved from a small, picturesque storefront space in NW Portland to a much larger, 2100 square foot site at 911 N. Monroe Street, in the increasingly bustling Boise-Eliot neighborhood. With help from MCNW, Anne’s one of a kind establishment has quickly come into shape. When Anne thought about expansion her business was new and unique and lacked a track record, making it difficult to get a loan from a traditional lender. That’s where MCNW stepped in.
“Without Mercy Corps Northwest, we wouldn’t have been able to open this business. They had faith in us when a lot of people didn’t,” said Anne, surrounded by boxes, tables and a pristine sewing machine in her bright new North Portland space. In addition to Anne, Acanthus’s staff consists of two full-time upholsterers and her husband, sculptor J.D. Perkin.
Anne grew up outside of Chicago and has a professional background in Fine Arts. As is typical of many small business owners who are passionate about their products, she loves her work but was unsure about the nuts and bolts of running a business. Along with a loan, Anne needed business knowledge to help understand how to make good purchasing and hiring decisions, handle taxes, and face the myriad of issues involved in running a successful business.
In 2011, Anne was introduced to Suzanne Feucht, a MCNW volunteer mentor and owner of SF Business Services LLC and President of Cheers ERP Solutions, Inc. Through several one hour-long mentoring sessions at MCNW, Suzanne provided Anne with the information she needed to grow her business.
“It’s been a few years now,” Anne said, “and Suzanne has been working with me ever since. For example, when I started I was literally doing shoe box accounting. Through Suzanne’s mentoring, we implemented QuickBooks and I hired employees. Suzanne would give me homework in QuickBooks as a learning tool. She’s taught me enough that I can now stay on top of the basic bookkeeping but still go to her for the more extensive financials.”
Through this mentoring, Anne said that Suzanne has gone the extra mile for her and is still there when she needs a guiding hand. The two have become good friends. “I’m so thankful to Mercy Corps Northwest and to have Suzanne as my mentor. She’s been indispensable to Acanthus.”