Written by Hope Tinney
VANCOUVER, Wash.—Just five years after creating Pacific Perks, a “personal café” start-up, Jim and Natalie Fairchild are in the enviable position of owning a business that isn’t just sustainable, but scalable.
Ask her where she wants to be in five years and Natalie says she is of two minds: build empire or maintain a life-work balance?
A goal of $1 million in revenues is not unrealistic, she said, depending on how hard they want to work. That’s a fair question, especially since Jim was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1998 and left his high-powered job in sports marketing in 2007 so that he could achieve a healthier lifestyle.
They started with one espresso cart and a business plan that promised clients a personal barista to make coffee drinks for two hours for $300, with no drink limits and no extra charges.
They’ve grown to six carts and can now provide mobile service for omelets, smoothies, quesadillas and ice cream sundaes, in addition to the espresso service.
For now, Natalie said, she and her husband are happy with where the company is, and where they are headed. And for that, she credits Buck Heidrick, the SBDC advisor in Vancouver.
“I really feel that he has helped us create a strong foundation and we’re ready to flourish,” she said.
In a letter dated June 2013, Natalie wrote that Heidrick’s assistance has helped her company increase its year-to-date total income 30 percent, gross income has increased 50 percent, and net income has increased 84 percent. In addition, they increased their staff from six employees to nine.
Without Heidrick, she said, she might not have had the courage to take several “scary” steps that were necessary to reach her long-term goals—like moving the business out of their home and into a commercial space.
“The service the SBDC continues to offer us has been an integral part of our success and growth,” she wrote. “It has allowed us to see the opportunity that awaits by taking the steps necessary to prosper.”