While the recession may have officially ended, many small business owners, in particular minority business owners, are still reeling from the devastating effects of the recession that began in 2007. Larger firms and corporations were able to secure bank loans and investments to coast by during the recession; then they reinvented themselves after the recession. For small business owners, however, banks have dried up.
From this vantage point, I ask you, how does a small business owner, in particular a minority or woman owned enterprise, take advantage of our revived consumer marketplace if they are still paying off recession-related debts? Making matters worse, a woman owned small business owner is 15 to 20% less likely to earn loan approval.
Small business owner Joy Revels embodies this economic tension. As Revels likes to joke, she is Hillary Clinton's "Joy the Printer," a play on the moniker of "Joe the Plumber." Revels has owned and operated her screen printing shop Dragonfly Graphics since 1986. While hers is not the only screen printing shop in the busy college town Gainesville, FL, hers is the most renowned for community service. As she says "No one can put a price tag on twenty-nine years of good will." You can check out one of Revels' most publicized benevolent gestures here.
Though her sales continually increase due to her e-mail and social media marketing efforts, as well as her commitment to community outreach, Revels struggles to maintain a delicate and stressful balance between continuing to invest and grow her company, while still paying off her recession-related debts. In order to grow her business during the recession, Revels amped up her social media marketing, and then invested in two new automatic screen printing presses. While her sales have increased by 61 percent since 2011, she is without resources to keep moving forward, as she struggles paying off her high interest investment-related debt. At this point, if she does not secure a small business loan, her best case scenario would include selling her unique commercial property, and relocating her business. Her personal persistence and tenacity won't allow her to consider the worst case scenario: closing the doors to her almost thirty-year old business.
Revels has been in touch with Hillary Clinton's campaign, as she thinks if Clinton actually knew about "Joy the Printer," she'd certainly consider sending some campaign T-shirt orders to Revels' business. As an aside, Revels is an avid supporter of Clinton, and has donated to Clinton's campaigns (past and present) despite her personal financial struggles.
As Clinton herself said, she wants to be the "Small Business President." Clinton's father printed drapery fabrics, and then sold them, so Clinton not only theoretically empathizes with the small business owner, she knows personally the long hours, stress, and persistence it takes for a small business in America to succeed. That she is a woman assures me she will usher in an election era that is less about the Joe's we know, and turn more attention to the women who are facing even tougher odds, women just like "Joy the Printer."
Aimee Anderson does PR for Dragonfly Graphics. Aimee is also Joy Revels' partner in life, family, and love; however, Aimee does not have a controlling interest in Dragonfly Graphics.