Archive for June, 2011
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In 2004 Mira Fannin lined a small booth at the Eugene Farmers Market with her latest clothing creations. Her products immediately drew the attention of shoppers who loved the organic blended fibers with cuts described as ‘simple, modern, yet classically wearable.’ As Mira recalls, “there was such a demand for the classic simplicity and wearability of the designs that the obvious choice was to keep going.” Although she started with a tiny 4-foot by-4-foot space, her products quickly became popular and she expanded her booth to accommodate shoppers. Sweet Skins now operates a thriving store in Eugene, an online website, and acts as a distributor to customers worldwide.
One season Mira realized that purchasing large quantities of fiber would ultimately decrease her production costs and allow the natural fiber dyeing process to be more efficient, but she did not have the start-up capital to purchase fiber in bulk. With the help of eDev (Entrepreneurial Development Services) in Eugene, Mira applied for a $10,000 loan from the CapitalLink program of Oregon Microenterprise Network. Mira worked with Shawn Winkler Rios, Executive Director at eDev, to develop her business plan. She also took classes in accounting and worked with peer groups composed of other small business owners in Eugene. As Mira works to repay her loan, eDev provides customized support to fit her individual business needs and ensure that the microloan makes the greatest impact on the business. Mira meets regularly with eDev staff to fine-tune her entrepreneurial skills and approaches to running a small business.
Sweet Skins is a minority and female owned business located in Eugene, Oregon. Owner Mira Fannin designs all products herself, including shirts, fleece sweaters, pants, dresses, hats, and more. “I try to use all sustainable and natural fibers, mostly organic cotton and hemp,” says Mira. Her most unique creation uses a material called eco-fleece, a 100% recycled material made from recycled plastic pop bottles that produces an amazingly soft fleece without harmful chemicals and pesticides. Until recently, all aspects of production- designs, cut and sew- have been done by women locally. “It’s definitely more to pay for locally-made clothing rather than mass produced, subsidized clothing, but people seem willing and even feel good about it,” Mira notes. Sweet Skins maintains a conscious business model that supports environmental sustainability and the local community. The business employs one full time and three part time females from the Eugene community and has been a strong player in community development, job creation, and economic growth.
Sweet Skins website: http://www.sweetskins.com/
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