An Interview with Carmone Fuller, Business Owner- December 2015
When asked “Why he loves RMMFI so much”, Carmone Fuller, a graduate of Business Launch BootCamp #14, replied:
“Well, to start off first, they gave me the tools to figure out what I need to do to make my dream a reality. They put us together with 8 different boot campers from all different parts of the business world and strangely enough, we became so close that we wouldn’t let anyone give up on their dream. RMMFI kept us going. For me, I am a chef and work full time, 10-12 hours per day, and when I got to Boot Camp I forgot how tired I was. It was never boring. I wasn’t the best student growing up, but this was very exciting. They gave me the confidence to follow my dream and the right path to do so. This is an extended family. Once you graduate you are still a part of RMMFI with all the support and help through the Post Boot Camp program. If I had found them earlier, I would have started my business earlier. They have made it fun for me to dream, fun to work hard, and it was worth the whole 12 weeks.”
Carmone Fuller is now the proud owner of Carmone Enterprises, LLC. and producer of “Carmone’s Jammin’ Jerk Sauce”. The recipe for Carmone’s jerk sauce has been in his family for many years, originating with his ancestors who lived in Jamaica. Carmone Enterprises has had fast growth in the few short weeks of business launch since November, 2015. Carmone’s Jammin Jerk Sauce is now at the point where Carmone can produce his jerk sauce in large quantities without losing the quality or kick of the original recipe. And just last week someone ordered 7 cases of sauce!
“Business ownership isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon,” says Carmone. “I am now ready to work for myself and have the tools to do that. I couldn’t have done this without my fellow boot campers. I feel like Oliver. We were a bunch of orphans at the beginning but now we are all moving forward towards successful business ownership.”
When asked what advice he would give to other entrepreneurs and people just starting off, Carmone shared, “RMMFI can only help you if you help yourself. The more you put in, the more you are going to get out. You gain an amazing community that runs alongside you every step of the way. They are on your side. Colorado is very friendly towards small business, and what other ally would you want here than RMMFI?!”
You can support future BootCamp graduates like Carmone by making a donation to Rocky Mountain MicroFinance Institute today! Join the RMMFI Community and help to set an aspiring entrepreneur on the path to self-sufficiency through business ownership.
By Rochelle Johnson, Artist and Business Owner- November 2015
Living and working in Denver as an emerging artist is no easy job. In 2014, I had just finished my classes at the Arts Students League of Denver and was making the transition from student to professional artist when I got behind on my phone bill. As I was looking for someone to help me pay the bill, the phone company suggested I give Project Wise a call. Once it was approved for them to pay the bill, I made another even more critical connection: I became aware of Rocky Mountain MicroFinance Institute (RMMFI), an organization that would help me to really put my business as an artist first. RMMFI, I was told, would take me through an intense Business Launch BootCamp where I could learn how to sell my artwork. "Umm, " I thought to myself, "If I could do that I would never be late on my phone bill again. So I gave RMMFI a call and the process of putting my business first started.
Meeting with the RMMFI Community was overwhelming in a way that takes your breath away. The chance to challenge yourself in a positive way that makes you do great things is rare. Business Launch BootCamp gave me that chance. After the application interview, I remember thinking how lucky I would be to have a chance to develop a business on my love of painting. When I got word that I had been accepted to BootCamp class #10, I was stunned. They choose me! I had questions: How much work would I have to do? Will it take away from me painting, which is the core of my business? Fear set in. But I was pleased to learn that the program offered 3 mentors that would help me along the way. Then fear set in, again. I thought, “My business is not the traditional hot dog stand plan. How do I explain to the rest of my class that I want to sell my artwork and make a living of it?” But I was so relieved to find out that my mentors were all for my plan! “We can help you through the process of building your business,” they said. What my mentors taught me about business is something they don’t teach in Art School. The hustle of business building is real.
The combination of the BootCamp classes and weekly meetings with my mentors helped me to realize my dream of selling my artwork through my business: Rochelle Johnson Studio. I create unique and quality oil paintings documenting the ordinary moments of everyday life. Living a creative life can be daunting. Adding in the component of running a creative business increases the odds, and the risk, of becoming a successful artist, or not. Still, upon completing the RMMFI BootCamp, I had a launch party and successful art show in my studio. My new business plan is based on participation in summer art festivals. So far, I have participated in 3 festivals where I have been able to cover the cost of participation and make additional revenue that allows me to paint during the off-season and enter my work into winter shows. One of the things I'm most proud of is that I will be curating an exhibit at the McNichols Civic Center Building in 2017. Inclusion: A Visual Exploration of Contemporary Visionaries is scheduled for spring or early summer. The show gives me a chance to feature 15 other artists while also sharing my own artwork.
I can't stress enough that RMMFI gave me the wings to fly. They provided me with a knowledgeable, compassionate, and generous community where I could confidently put my business first. I ask you to please consider donating your time or money to RMMFI: A place where dreams are made possible for people like me- a onetime "starving artist", now a thriving business owner and curator.
by Jay Whisenton, Business Owner- October 2015
Are you walking with your head up or are you walking with your head down? I was walking with my head down when it came to my business until Rocky Mountain MicroFinance Institute (RMMFI) showed me how to lift my head and keep it up! My mentor, Ben Weeda, was the first person at RMMFI to help me recognize where my business was heading if I didn’t make changes. Ben encouraged me to attend my first RMMFI classes. Once I did, the realization kicked in for me: My business was failing. During a one-on-one with Ben, I began to cry, but not for long as he was quick to snap me out of it, reminding me that there was still hope. I just needed some guidance and a reminder to keep my head up. When I was accepted into Business Launch Boot Camp I knew I was at a crossroad for Feeding the Multitudes Catering. If Boot Camp did not work, I would close the doors of my business for good.
After 12 weeks of intense Boot Camp classes, my eyes were opened to a new direction toward business success. In August 2014, Feeding the Multitudes Catering re-launched. We made twice as much money in the last five months of the year than we had in the first 7 months of that year. It was incredible! My business went from being “the best kept secret” to a well known catering company that continues to grow.
Success is not built on your knowledge of the business alone, but also on the relationships that you create along the way, that is what I learned from Stacey, RMMFI’s Development Director. Annie, the Boot Camp coordinator, always encouraged me to be who I am and use my strengths to further me. Brendan, the Director of Programs continually challenged me to go deeper, beneath the surface of my vision for Feeding the Multitudes Catering. The staff at RMMFI continues to urge me endlessly on and has continued to encourage me long after I graduated from Boot Camp. With my mind set to give my very best to my business, I press on. I want to go beyond expectations, build relationships, be myself and enjoy the fact that in the year 2015 my business has made money to strengthen my family and to do what we love the most: Provide catering for low-income families and non-profits.
I have always believed that what you reap is what you sow. There have been countless times that others have sown support into my life through my many ups and downs. Thanks to them, I am still standing. I am a successful small business owner because they invested in my potential. Sometimes all we need is a “bootstrap up”. How many others now stand in the position that I was once in? I am forever grateful for the opportunity provided to me through RMMFI!
Thank you to the donors who helped RMMFI help me to keep my head up, to better support my family, and to serve all of the low-income families and non-profits that I am now able to help. Now is a great time to help someone else out! You can sow a seed and see the results of your contribution to a small, local business. Make a donation to RMMFI today!
Partner with Heirloom Catering for your next family or work function! Heirloom Catering - (720) 629-1658
Meet Kyla DeTienne, owner of birds & belles boutique and graduate of Boot Camp #2
Update your closet for summer or find a unique gift from a local artist.
You can do it all at birds & belles boutique!
1113 S. Pearl Denver, CO 80210
Meet Kandice Porter and Art Romero - Graduates of Boot Camp Class #11
What exactly does RMMFI do?
We create successful entrepreneurs who build time-tested small businesses and have been doing so since 2008. We provide a mix of flexible microloans and robust wrap-around services (business education, mentoring, and accountability) to low-income entrepreneurs, who see business ownership as a chance to earn meaningful income, and transform their lives.
How can you support RMMFI?
We invite you to join the RMMFI Community in support of entrepreneurship by making a gift to RMMFI. Together we will create success stories for our next class of Business Launch Boot Camp participants as they start on the journey to their own business dreams.
- $50 – Helps offset the cost of a tuition payment that each Boot Camper makes to participate.
- $100 – Provides one volunteer session of 1-on-1 coaching to a Boot Camper. Each entrepreneur meets weekly with a dedicated Business Coach, a Business Mentor, and a Financial Mentor.
- $250 – Contributions of $250 and over are eligible to receive a 25% Denver Enterprise Zone Tax Credit.
- $500 – Helps deliver the Launch Phase of Boot Camp for one entrepreneur – includes coaching, mentorship, business owner panels, and launch round-tables, in preparation for a successful business launch.
- $1,000 – Funds the full support for One Pillar (Marketing, Operations, Financials, Management) of the Business Launch Boot Camp for one Boot Camper.
- $2,500 – Funds a portion of Research & Development of the Post Boot Camp Program.
- $5,000 – Covers the entire programmatic cost of Business Launch Boot Camp for one entrepreneur. This classroom participation and education is critical to each one of our Boot Camper’s success. Each graduate will learn about becoming successful entrepreneur, and most importantly, absorb the necessary skills to start a thriving business.