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Small Business War Stories

Small businesses are the soul of America. This is where they tell their stories. Small Business War Stories is a weekly show recorded in person with small business owners. We discuss different topics and get the triumphs, struggles, and funny stories from our guests' everyday lives. Hosted by Pablo Fuentes, an entrepreneur and musician based in Austin, Texas.
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Now displaying: 2017
Dec 27, 2017

The Hotel Kitsmiller Main is a family-owned retro motor court built in the 1940s in the town of Fredericksburg, Texas.

Matt and Taylor Gutierrez met in Austin while they were both working in the corporate hotel world. Little did they know, they would be afforded the opportunity to run Taylor's family's longstanding business. 

Dec 21, 2017

When Erik Axel Brunt began his apprenticeship at a tattoo shop, he thought he was only interested in doing body piercings. 

However, once Erik began apprenticing on a weekly basis, he found himself interested in the tattoo art surrounding him. Being around the art and seeing tattoos done on a daily basis, Erik began envisioning the tattoos he would eventually create.

Now, Erik works out of Triple Crown Tattoo in Austin, Texas.

Dec 13, 2017

In the break room at his old job, Damien Reyes suddenly found himself in an early midlife crisis. Faced with the dilemma of the future spread out before him, Damien decided to make a change. 

He began his journey at a somewhat unlikely place for a retired truck driver in his late twenties: beauty school. And a few years later, Short Hair Company was born. 

Dec 6, 2017

Kristy Brandabur received her degree in Exercise Science Sports Medicine, taught health and physical education for 11 years, and worked in a variety of fitness and wellness-related fields. 

At Metamorphosis Holistic Wellness Center, Kristi uses a blended technique of physical therapy, mental therapy and holistic approaches like massage and acupuncture. 

This week Kristi brings us into her world.

Three reasons to tune in this week:

  • Learn what the EFT or emotional freedom technique is and how Kristy administers it to her clients. 
  • Learn how Kristy balances medical recommendations with physical and mental training. 
  • Learn about the healing and transformative powers of essential oils. 
Dec 1, 2017

Josh Harcus, chairman at Huify and bestselling author of A Closing Culture, joins us this week four our inaugural Flash Episode of Small Business War Stories. 

This week, we discuss the art of business gifting, the best tactics and the perfect timing to gift your customers. 

Josh Harcus instructs us on how to gift thoughtfully and authentically to grow your business relationships. 

Three reasons to tune in this week:

  • How to give gifts that are thoughtful, lasting, and that people might not typically buy for themselves. 
  • How to think of the long-term value of a customer gift. 
  • Enter our contest to win a $100 "gifting" gift certificate to the best gift submission idea. 
Nov 29, 2017

Tommy Talley came home to Baton Rouge, Louisiana in 2011. After working for years in reality television in Los Angeles, Tommy launched and grew his production company, Tommy's TV, into a full production arsenal. 

Tommy's TV produces and creates stunning personalized videos that deliver key messages through the art of storytelling. 

This week Tommy talks about "Punk-ing" with Ashton Kutcher, the love of storytelling and about coming home to Louisiana. 

Three reasons to tune in this week:

  • Learn how to use the fundamentals of storytelling to tell a story in an interesting and communicative way.
  • Learn about the best places to fit your video content and what, in today's standards, constitutes a "too long" video. 
  • Take a stroll down memory lane, as Tommy and Pablo discuss the finest of reality tv (ahem Jersey Shore) from the late aughts. 
Nov 22, 2017

When Phil Angotti and his two guitar-loving coworkers left their jobs at a huge guitar store, they opened their own business in the Wicker Park neighborhood in Chicago. 

Avenue N guitars was founded with an overflowing knowledge and passion for guitars, especially of the vintage variety. 

This week on Small Business War Stories, Phil talks about music, Wicker Park and the fine workmanship of classic guitars. 

Nov 15, 2017

The New Roxy in Clarksdale, Mississippi was built in the 1940's but sat vacant for 30 years until a merchant marine from Seattle named Robin Colonas purchased it in 2008.

Robin had been visiting Mississippi off and on for a while, and something about Clarksdale really grabbed a hold of her. 

At the time, Robin had no plan for the building other than to try to protect it. It was just an expensive hobby.

However, today, the New Roxy is a successful art, music and theater venue. 

This is Robin's incredible story about transforming the New Roxy into a new opportunity for the Clarksdale community.

Nov 8, 2017

When Jeff Pearson started his Play N Trade video game store in Lafayette, LA, Play N Trade was a successful franchise with 750 stores nationwide.

A few years later, after the original founder retired, the company went through three CEOs and essentially collapsed.

However, Jeff's store is still going. He even has plans to open a second one.

How did Jeff's version of Play N Trade survive? What makes him different?

This week we get the whole story from Jeff. 

Nov 1, 2017

Letterpress printing dates back to the 1400s and was the primary method of print until the mid-20th century.

Offset printing took over and now digital printing dominates the print world. However, recently letterpress has had a revival as an artisan printing form.

In Louisville, Kentucky, Patrick Masterson is helping to keep this print form alive with his print shop. He believes that this is how typography is meant to be printed, it adds dimension and feels great in your hand.

We get into this and whole lot more on this week's episode of Small Business War Stories.

Oct 25, 2017

The American Dream is closely tied to entrepreneurship. The notion that someone, regardless of their background, can work hard, make a better product or invent something completely new, and become whatever they want, is fundamentally American.

Many businesses fail. But perhaps one of the most frustrating reasons for failure is dealing with excessive regulations.

This week on Small Business War Stories, we sit down with JoAnn Prosser to discuss her battle with regulations when opening a raw food cafe in Lexington, Kentucky.

Oct 18, 2017

Just over 5 years ago, David Swider was lamenting with a friend about how they wished there was a good record store in their hometown of Oxford, Mississippi.

Finally, they asked themselves, "Why don't we do it?". 

This simple idea led to the creation of the independent record store The End of All Music.

Now, 5 years later, the business is stronger than ever and David is working his dream job.

This week on Small Business War Stories, we sit down with David to talk about how he has managed to make an independent record store not only succeed but thrive. 

Oct 11, 2017

Embrace community. Serve others. Create culture.

These are the words you will find on the walls of a coffee shop in Lexington, Kentucky.

A Cup of Common Wealth is doing what the biggest and best companies in the world aspire to do, create an amazing culture. 

A great culture not only inspires your workforce, but helps to promote your brand.

A company's culture goes beyond their benefits and is not something that employees bring with them. It must be set by the founders of the business and it is reflective in the vision, beliefs and values of the organization.

We were lucky to speak with Sal Sanchez, founder of A Cup of Common Wealth, about how they think about culture and how that has helped the growth and success of their business.

This week on Small Business War Stories, Sal Sanchez of A Cup of Common Wealth Coffee.

Oct 4, 2017

Caroline Cook was a stay at home mother with three children (now four) when she decided to venture back into the workforce and become a real estate agent.

The initial stage for this career change was tough. She was pregnant with her fourth child and attempting to sell $4 million worth of property during a down market in 2009.

However, she not only persevered, but thrived.

She still loves what she does and besides somehow managing to raise four children while working full time, she had time to write a book about her ministry involvement in Haiti.

Carol is an amazing woman and we are excited to have her as today's guest on Small Business War Stories.

Sep 27, 2017

In 1969, a former coffin show room located at 3614 Jackson Highway in Sheffield, Albama was converted into the Muscle Shoals Sound Studio.

Huge names in music like the Rolling Stones, Cher, Bob Seger, Lynrd Skynrd and many more recorded songs and albums within its' walls.

Only a decade later, in 1979, the studio would close.

Following a documentary titled Muscle Schoals in 2013, interest was peaked in restoring the forgotten building. 

Today, on Small Business War Stories, we talk to Andrew Kelly of the Muscle Shoals Music Foundation about how they helped restore this building to help establish an iconic music museum.

Sep 20, 2017

There has been an explosion in growth of the craft beer market over the past 10 years. Today, there are more than 5,300 breweries in operation in the U.S., up from just 2,000 in 2011.

That means breweries have grown 21% annually since 2011!

However, after 8 years of double digit market growth, in 2016, the craft beer volume fell to just 6% year of year growth.

What does this mean for the craft brewery market? Is it time to panic or is this just a sign of the industry growing up? Have we reached a saturation point?

We sat down with Mike Raspatello, founder of October, a beer magazine and website, to discuss where he thinks the craft brew industry is going. 

This and much more in today's episode of Small Business War Stories.

Sep 13, 2017

We often underestimate the impact that a small business can have on their community while in reality, small businesses are the main driver of job creation in the United States.

One small business has less impact than a major corporation, but as a whole, small businesses create more jobs, create a positive atmosphere within their communities, and create local role models for kids to look up to.

One coffee shop in Clarksdale, Mississippi is a perfect example of such a business.

Cali Noland and Ben Lewis of Meraki Roasting Company have combined their passions for education, community and business to use their local coffee shop to help teach kids necessary job skills. 

With a poverty rate of 40% in Clarksdale, this program is filling an extremely important need for this community. These kids are learning necessary soft skills like time management, that will ultimately help them secure and keep a job in the future.

We get into this program and much more in the latest episode of Small Business War Stories.

Sep 6, 2017

Great business people are able to adapt, think on their feet, speak and captivate an audience, and collaborate and communicate with a variety of people in a variety of situations.

These also happen to be the exact types of skills you learn in improv.

Improv training is fantastic business training. The skills necessary to stand on stage and improvise any topic thrown at you, is an extremely transferable skill to business.

Jonas Koffler of the improv and training group Four Day Weekend, has been helping businesses learn these skills for the past 20 years. What started as a limited six week run at a local theatre, has grown into a 20 year successful business where the group has now worked the who's who of Fortune 500 companies, toured with the USO, and performed for two different U.S. presidents.

We were lucky to sit down with Jonas Koffler, and get his story, company background and advice as part of Small Business War Stories.

Aug 30, 2017

Starting a photography business is simple, but making it successful and profitable is a real challenge.

Between existing full-time photographers and those doing it as a secondary part-time job, there's a tremendous amount of competition in the market.

But many photographers have managed to succeed by carving out a niche and building a sustainable lucrative business.

We spoke with Dan Mitchell about his journey from budding school teacher to full-time music and events photographer.

His modest beginnings started with uploading a video he created with his cellphone of a friend's open mic performance. That was compelling enough to be contacted about the possibility of making money from creating similar content.

Fast forward to today, and this self-taught photographer has built a growing business specializing in music, portraits and special event photography.

We are excited to share with you our interview with Dan in today's episode of Small Business War Stories.

Aug 23, 2017

The Shack Up Inn embodies the intersection between music and cultural tourism.

A stay at one of their sharecropper shacks immediately immerses you in the history of plantation life while also immersing you in the live music scene at the birth place of the blues.

The Shack Up Inn started nearly 20 years ago as a single sharecropper shack on a plantation in Clarksdale, Mississippi. Tourists interested in seeing what a plantation looked like started asking about renting the shack.

Fast forward to today, The Shack Up Inn has 19 shacks, can accommodate over 100 people, and has its own live music venue that has featured legends such as Robert Plant, Tom Waits and Elvis Costello.

In today's episode of Small Business War Stories, we spoke with Guy Malvezzi to learn how they got their start, why music tourism and much more.

Aug 16, 2017

Claire Flowers was in software sales and after years of suffering through poorly made shoes that would get caught in sidewalk grates and fall apart weeks after buying, she was inspired to design her own shoe.

Now, it turns out, getting someone to manufacture a single shoe is not so simple. It's not like getting a tailored suit. Large manufacturers have no interest in doing one-off business like that and no one overseas will do it.

This is what inspired Claire to start Claire Flowers Shoes. She wanted a woman's shoe that feel like a Nike, looks like a Jimmy Choo, and wears like a work boot.

We sat down with Claire to talk about how she went from idea to full fledged business and much more in this latest episode of Small Business War Stories.

Aug 9, 2017

In the early 90s, Mark Baier was working as a stockbroker, playing music for fun. Having finally made enough money for the first time to buy new music equipment, Mark excitedly purchased a brand new amp.

He was unfortunately disappointed. The new amp didn't sound anything like his old second hand amp.

After comparing the electronics between his old and new amps, he realized that in order to have a new amp that sounded like his old amp, he'd need to build it himself.

Knowing nothing about electronics, he taught himself 1960s electronics via his local library and then went to work.

This incredible story was the modest beginnings of Victoria Amps. We get Mark's full story and much more on the latest episode of Small Business War Stories.

Aug 2, 2017

Like many entrepreneurs, Mike Dalle Molle and Jordan Gurren started out working for someone else. 

Although they loved the work, they felt like there was not a lot of creative freedom. They had to do what they were told.

After receiving a lucky break where a local restaurant asked them to design a shelving unit, which led to designing an entire restaurant, they leapt at the chance to start their own custom furniture business.

They were only 23 and 24 years-old at the time. 

Now, less than three years later, they have a 6,500 square foot facility with 8 people on staff, cranking out amazing furniture every day.

For such young men, they have a lot of perspective and a ton of drive.

On this latest episode of Small Business War Stories, we take a deep dive into how they got their start, how they learned and adapted along the way, and what the future holds for Goodwood NOLA.

Jul 26, 2017

Brooke Worthington got her start in the jewelry-making business after first creating pieces for her friends and family as a creative outlet.

Others took notice and she started selling her custom-made jewelry at a local store in Nashville. One thing led and another, and her business started to grow.

Recently, she opened her own retail store in Nashville, where she sells both her own works and an assortment of curated items from other lines.

What began as a hobby is now a thriving business. 

In this episode of Small Business War Stories, we talk with Brooke about how she got her start in the jewelry business, and how she continues to evolve and learn.

Jul 19, 2017

St. Louis is a BBQ town.

Outside of St. Louis, what we know as "St. Louis Barbeque", is a pork spare rib cut where the ends of the ribs are trimmed so they're all the same length.

However, within St. Louis, BBQ is much more than just a cut of pork. 

We take a deep dive into the St. Louis BBQ Tradition with owner and operator of Pappy's Smokehouse, John Matthews.

Pappy's Smokehouse was started over 9 years ago and now has multiple locations and lines out the door. What started as John, his business partner and 3 employees, has now grown into a 50-plus person operation.

We speak with John about how he started, how he hires, markets and much more on the latest episode of Small Business War Stories.

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