Real stories, real people.
Meet Jolene, owner of Natural Sprinkles and client of the SBDC.
“This is my life. This is the story of my family unfolding. We’re all in this together.”
Jolene Wilson enrolled at Linn-Benton Community College to further her career goals, as many others do. At the time, over a decade ago, her plan was to become a Dental Hygienist.
After her time at LBCC, she moved away and traveled, following her husband who was in the Navy. She was exposed to new cultures and places, taking note of new flavors and foods.
She had always eaten healthy but began to take initiative in cooking healthier for her family. With more time at home after her firstborn, Jolene became more involved in baking.
“I fell in love with it,” she said. “So, I started baking cakes.”
Then, she started making sprinkles.
“It’s a labor of love; it’s a lot of mixing and processing and dyeing,” she said.
After years of practicing her craft and attending a culinary academy in Alabama, Jolene’s family moved back to Albany. In 2017, Natural Sprinkles Co. was introduced as a booth at the farmers market with baked goods adorned with handmade, all-natural sprinkles.
When Jolene realized the complexity of running a business, she knew she needed guidance. She went back to LBCC where her journey had begun years before. There, she found the Small Business Development Center (SBDC).
At the SBDC, Jolene was paired with Anne Whittington, advisor for over 12 years. With Anne, a seasoned business owner, Jolene found the expertise she had been looking for.
“Anne really helped me work through my fears of small business,” Jolene said.
Anne helped her figure out how to price her products. She encouraged her to know how long it took to make those products. She introduced resources Jolene would need to build her business, and she introduced people in the community she should be connected with.
“I met with her consistently each week,” Jolene said. “It’s been really great to have Anne in my back pocket.”
Through the SBDC, Jolene even got Quickbooks training to better manage her bottom line.
After years of working her booth at the farmers market and building a customer base, she was ready for a storefront.
After six months of searching, Jolene found the future home of Natural Sprinkles; the old School of Rock downtown. Everything from plumbing to electric to tearing down walls needed to be done, and the SBDC helped find reliable contractors for the job.
It took a year to complete the remodel, transforming it into a light and bright place that pops with color and comfort. The grand opening came in November of 2018.
“We’re looking at this as an investment in the community,” Jolene said. “After leaving our service in the military, this is kind of our extended service to the community.”
Their young daughter, Aida, plans to take over the business one day. She currently helps line up the cupcakes.
“Learning how to work and operate the business has really brought us together,” Jolene said of her family.
Are you ready to start building your dream?