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Financing Program Helps Culinary Dynamo Blend Up Successful Woman-Owned Enterprise

November 19, 2020 | Small Business Loans

There’s a reliable adage about small businesses starting out in an owner’s garage. While that indeed holds true for many, a dusty, dirty garage just wouldn’t have been suitable for what culinary entrepreneur Francheska “Frankie” Yamsuan had in mind.

“For a long time, I was obsessed with dairy-free date shakes and one night I dreamed of putting the shake mixture into my ice cream maker,” Frankie recalled. “I made several batches in my home kitchen and shared it with my gym friends and they loved it. Word spread and I started getting requests for more.”

In the grocery industry ice cream is an extremely competitive niche, so Frankie simply sandwiched her coconut-milk-based frozen concoction with a couple of cookies and her Coconut Girl brand was born. She calls her culinary creation the “original paleo cookie sandwich,” staying true to her adopted nutrition regimen, which limits dairy products and sugar. Three flavors emerged from her kitchen – Aloha Chocolate, Hang Loose Vanilla and Beach Bum Maple.

Creativity and Determination Help Products Catch On

To market her desserts beyond her gym crowd, this culinary entrepreneur bought a custom-designed tricycle and started peddling her products at weekend fitness events and farmers markets in the Los Angeles area. Not long after she launched this unique distribution strategy, a grocery retailer approached her about buying her products. Quickly, she put herself through a crash course in packaging and nutrition labeling and rented a commercial kitchen to ramp up production.

Demand for Frankie’s delectable delights soon spiked. Grocery stores started calling her to feature Coconut Girl sandwiches in their freezers. At this juncture she was doing everything herself – bootstrapping the company financially, making the desserts, doing the marketing and customer service. Frankie also smartly was taking advange of social media channels Instagram and Facebook to help amplify her brand to her audience.

“I needed help,” Frankie admitted. “Friends suggested I go on the TV show Shark Tank to attract an investor.”

A Shark Gives Expansion Plans Some Teeth

On her second application to the show, Frankie burst onto the Shark Tank stage with loads of energy and pitched her way into the heart of “Shark” billionaire Mark Cuban, one of the “sharks” on the show who entertain investment appeals from small business owners. Cuban offered Frankie $180,000 for a 20 percent stake in the business. She accepted and used much of the money to engage a reliable food-manufacturing partner.

Coconut Girl was on the upswing. Frankie secured a partner to produce more product and was renting a commercial kitchen. Then the unforeseen happened: the Covid 19 pandemic. Market stressors developed. Working capital got tight. Like many small businesses, Frankie applied and received a modest Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan from the U.S. Small Business Administration, but she needed more financial support to bridge the gap to full recovery. After a brief internet search, she discovered mission-based lender CDC Small Business Finance.

“Frankie is very bright and has a clear vision for her business,” said Joe Salas, a loan officer with CDC Small Business Finance who assisted her with the loan application.  “She had a good grasp of her numbers and markets.”

Covid-19 Relief Loan Rewards Strong Character and Entrepreneurial Resilience

Looking to meet the needs of small business owners impacted by Covid-19, CDC Small Business Finance developed a relief loan program to provide more financing to the small business community.  As part of the application process, business owners share how the pandemic has affected their business and include how they plan to move forward.

Frankie was able to take advantage of the program. From application to approval, it took less than a week for Frankie to secure her financing.

“CDC was very responsive and easy to work with,” said Frankie. “They really helped me during a tough time.”

Related: How We’re Getting More Business Capital To Underinvested San Diego Areas

The challenges Frankie has endured reminds her of the lessons she’s learned as a culinary entrepreneur.

“You have to be passionate about your business and positive you’ll get through the little failures that inevitably come,” said Frankie. “You’ve got to be resilient.”

Coconut Girl frozen cookie sandwiches are now available in six states and nearly 20 retailers, including Whole Foods Market and Bristol Farms.

Are you a small business who needs financing either for recovery efforts or to expand your business??  Talk to one of our loan officers who can explain all your options in minutes and find financing that best meets the needs of you and your business. Let’s talk! Reach us at loaninfo@cdcloans.com or (619) 243-8667. You can also apply online.



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