Jeri Fry comes from a long line of entrepreneurs. “My great uncle started City Market in western Colorado and I have 30 years of managing a gingerbread cottage industry.” She also learned business courage first hand from her parents growing up in the family’s local business, Lynde Garden Center. So it was just a matter of time till Jeri owned her own business. Nine months after she was hired by a friend to decorate cakes at a newly re-opened ice cream shop, she bought the business and renamed it The Cup and Cone.
With a mission to help meet some needs in her community, Jeri invested her own savings initially to manage the shop and provide jobs for first-time workers, and support literacy, youth and volunteers through her coupon donation program. “The first year of business was impacted by the Royal Gorge fire,” recalled Jeri. “We didn’t get much traction then but are doing well now. This is by far the happiest work I‘ve done.”
Jeri soon needed more working capital and tried unsuccessfully to get a disaster grant for local businesses affected by the Royal Gorge fire. A friend of hers (and CEF loan recipient) who owned a small business on Canon City’s Main Street referred Jeri to Colorado Enterprise Fund (CEF) where she qualified for a loan and free business coaching services in 2017.
This CEF support proved to be a turning point for Jeri’s business. Not only did she get the financing she needed to sustain her shop, she also worked with CEF’s Business Acceleration Services team of consultants to upgrade her accounting and point-of-sale systems. “It was an incredible help,” commented Jeri. “CEF tailored my loan to track with my seasonal financial needs and resources. They really understand and honor the ebb and flow of my seasonal business.”
With her newfound knowledge of and success at running a small seasonal business, Jeri has turned her focus to advocating for legislative defense of microbusinesses (like hers) at the state level. “Unlike other more established businesses, shops like mine with only one or two employees are pretty isolated. Not enough resources exist to help microbusinesses. I want to change that.”
She has in her own way, first, working with CEF to gain a different perspective and skills to successfully run her business, and second, mentoring other microbusinesses in her town. “CEF is a very valuable asset, like having an ex-officio member on your board to problem solve. No other lender provides the same caliber of service.”