Ven­ture fund helps with fund­ing, tech­ni­cal aid

Albuquerque Journal - - BUSINESS OUTLOOK - BY DA­MON SCOTT FI­NANCE NEW MEX­ICO Fi­nance New Mex­ico con­nects in­di­vid­u­als and busi­nesses with skills and fund­ing re­sources for their busi­ness or idea. To learn more, go to www.Fi­nanceNewMex­ico.org.

Bi­son Star Nat­u­rals is one of six en­ter­prises that shared $60,000 of in­vest­ment in 2018 as part of the Na­tive Amer­i­can Ven­ture Ac­cel­er­a­tion Fund pro­gram ad­min­is­tered by the Re­gional Devel­op­ment Cor­po­ra­tion. NA VAF aims to cre­ate jobs by boost­ing rev­enue and ad­vanc­ing the busi­ness goals of Na­tive Amer­i­canowned North­ern New Mex­ico com­pa­nies.

Jac­que­lene and An­gelo McHorse, own­ers of Bi­son Star Nat­u­rals, sought the funds to launch a line of liq­uid jo­joba and yucca root soap to aug­ment the bar soaps and lo­tions the busi­ness is known for.

“We also are ex­pand­ing our line to in­clude our un­scented lo­tion,” Jac­que­lene said. “The fund­ing al­lows us to re­lease a new prod­uct line and ex­pand our cur­rent of­fer­ings — which are great leaps for our small busi­ness.”

The NA VAF was launched in 2011 by the Re­gional Devel­op­ment Cor­po­ra­tion and Los Alamos Na­tional Se­cu­rity LLC, the com­pany that man­aged Los Alamos Na­tional Lab­o­ra­tory un­til Novem­ber, 2018. At the time of LANL’s man­age­ment tran­si­tion, more than $390,000 had been in­vested in the re­gional econ­omy through the NA VAF. Triad, LANL’s new man­ager, has vowed to re­tain most of the lab­o­ra­tory’s eco­nomic devel­op­ment ini­tia­tives — pro­grams such as the NA VAF — although a spokesper­son said some pro­grams may look dif­fer­ent go­ing for­ward.

Other 2018 re­cip­i­ents in­clude Jacque­line Gala Jew­elry and PM Waterlily of Taos Pue­blo, But­ter­fly Artist Mar­ket of Po­joaque Pue­blo, Aguilar Con­sult­ing of San Ilde­fonso Pue­blo, and the Eight North­ern In­dian Pue­b­los Coun­cil based in Ohkay Owingeh.

In ad­di­tion to pro­vid­ing money that re­cip­i­ents will use for soft­ware and equip­ment ac­qui­si­tion, man­u­fac­tur­ing, and the es­tab­lish­ment of an arts and crafts show, NA VAF ben­e­fits in­clude tech­ni­cal as­sis­tance from the RDC and its part­ner or­ga­ni­za­tions. The Bi­son Star Nat­u­rals own­ers said they plan to pur­sue the con­nec­tions and op­por­tu­ni­ties that ac­com­pany the funds.

More than money

“The RDC offers an in­cred­i­ble amount of re­sources for small busi­nesses and en­trepreneurs in North­ern New Mex­ico,” said An­gelo. “[RDC con­sul­tant] Lind­say Tay­lor has dili­gently worked to con­nect us with the New Mex­ico Man­u­fac­tur­ing Ex­ten­sion Part­ner­ship, ac­count­ing ser­vices, and con­nec­tions for po­ten­tial mar­kets.”

In ad­di­tion to man­u­fac­tur­ing as­sis­tance from New Mex­ico MEP, the cou­ple sought help with book­keep­ing. “Ac­count­ing presents the great­est chal­lenge as a small busi­ness op­er­a­tion — es­pe­cially when you only have a small team of two peo­ple,” Jac­que­lene said. “Ac­count­ing has a steep learn­ing curve that re­quires a large in­vest­ment in time, ef­fort and ded­i­ca­tion.” The cou­ple can fo­cus on grow­ing the busi­ness be­cause a CPA now helps man­age its fi­nances.

And grow­ing is what the busi­ness is do­ing. The cou­ple’s five-year plan in­cludes sell­ing their prod­ucts at ho­tels, re­sorts, air­ports and ma­jor re­tail­ers; ex­pand­ing the on­line store; and in­tro­duc­ing a full suite of body wash, sham­poo and hair con­di­tioner.

“In five years’ time we hope to open our own fa­cil­ity that has the ca­pac­ity to pro­duce all of our prod­ucts in-house, while also em­ploy­ing lo­cal New Mex­i­cans,” said Jac­que­lene. “This year we have some big plans: We will re­lease our un­scented lo­tion in Jan­uary and the liq­uid soap this spring.”

Bi­son Star Nat­u­rals can be found at the Gath­er­ing of Na­tions in April, the New Mex­ico Ar­ti­san Mar­ket in Novem­ber and at https:// bison­star­nat­u­rals.com/. Learn more about the NA VAF at https://rd­cnm.org/navaf/.

COURTESY OF FI­NANCE NEW MEX­ICO

Bi­son Star Nat­u­rals own­ers Jac­que­lene and An­gelo McHorse with their 1-year-old daugh­ter, Judy.

Jars of Bi­son Star Nat­u­rals’ sig­na­ture prod­uct, Sage Pine Lo­tion.

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