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Furniture Maker Finds Affordable Capital to Pay Off Expensive Online Loans and Grow

California Modern Woodworks – Los Angeles, California

California Modern Woodworks needed to escape the crushing costs of expensive online loans. The owners got help from the Small Business Finance Fund that caters to Latino entrepreneurs.…

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Nearly 20 years ago, Rafael Martinez labeled himself a “serial entrepreneur” and history has borne out his claim. He has started three successful small businesses in Los Angeles, including two vintage furniture enterprises.

Growing up, Rafael was surrounded by woodwork craftsmen in his family, but it wasn’t until 2008 that he seized an opportunity to start a new furniture retail business with his sister. As a buyer for Sunbeam Vintage, Rafael became captivated by iconic mid-century style furniture, which sparked a creative interest in launching his own studio. So in 2015, with his wife Leila, he opened California Modern Woodworks, a wholesale/retail furniture design company specializing in mid-century-style wood credenzas, tables and other vintage pieces.

Rafael and Leila quickly developed a good reputation, attracting the attention of high-end furniture designers and other customers, including restaurants, architects and a variety of corporations. But like so many small businesses, California Modern experienced growing pains. They needed working capital to buy raw materials and they needed the money fast so they secured two online loans, one of which carried an egregious interest rate of 39%.

Needing longer-term, affordable capital to support their production, Rafael and Leila were attracted to the Small Business Finance Fund (SBFF) because it’s affiliated with the nonprofit CDC Small Business Finance and focuses on assisting Latino entrepreneurs.

SBFF granted California Modern a $150,000 loan to pay-off their expensive online loans, buy new inventory and hire five new employees. The new financing will also provide leverage as they look to expand into a new store-front location where customers can get up close and browse their unique furniture.

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