Gravel & GoldGravel & Gold’s founders had worked with Pacific Community Ventures to fund and grow their company years ago, and through Pacific Community Ventures’ loan program we helped the new owners keep their growth keep apace.
Since 2008, Gravel & Gold has been supporting artists, initially through the sales and promotion of their work in a community retail setting. Gravel & Gold has been featured on the front page of the San Francisco Chronicle, were winners of SF Magazine’s Best of the Bay for “Best Gift Store,” and is continually recommended in prestigious publications such as Monocle, Goop, Time Out, Mother Mag, and Sunset Magazine.
In 2015, employees Holly Samuelson – who brought knowledge of textile manufacturing – and Tomra Palmer– who had been hired to grow their online and wholesale channels – purchased Gravel and Gold from the original owners. Gravel & Gold now designs original textiles in-house, which are then made into unique clothing and home furnishings. The Gravel & Gold retail store also sells the work of local artists, hosts art and food events, and holds workshops ranging from perfume making to pregnancy health. They sell their products at their flagship brick and mortar store, online and wholesale via high-end boutiques in the US, Japan, Canada and Germany.
In April 2018, Tomra and Holly sought a loan to purchase inventory and make business improvements, and despite the success of Gravel & Gold, as new owners they couldn’t get approved by a traditional bank. Gravel & Gold’s founders had worked with Pacific Community Ventures to fund and grow their company years ago, and through Pacific Community Ventures’ loan program we helped the new owners keep their growth going apace. Tomra and Holly were also paired with pro-bono advisor Anastasiya Rutus — Senior Lead Auditor at Wells Fargo. Anastasiya’s skills in internal financial controls, auditing and optimizing operations are playing a large role in Gravel & Gold’s success. Anastasiya says, “Management is working hard through understanding what is driving the sales of their main product, as well as spending time developing a long-term business strategy.”
This new strategy includes adding features to their website such as re-ordering capabilities for wholesale customers and investing more time and resources into direct online sales using various digital marketing tactics. Today, Tomra and Holly are also working on improving the quality of the jobs they offer. They provide 10 days paid leave annually, and give employees scheduling notices at least two weeks in advance – neither of which are common retail practices. They are committed to doing more and Anastasiya has been helping them use Pacific Community Ventures’ Good Jobs Good Business toolkit to identify where and how to get started. Based on their business goals, they chose to work on “Employee Compensation” and “Professional Development”. They have developed a performance review process for employees that have been with the company for at least six months and are offering hourly wage increases based on performance.