How a Microloan Transformed Sister Sage Herbs

July 17, 2018

In the fall of 2016, Jayne Simmons of Sister Sage Herbs, a natural remedies company, was turning away customers.

During the first nine months of the year, she produced thousands of bottles of herbal tinctures in a cramped, shared kitchen that had no storage or room to expand. Although she worked nearly round-the-clock, it was not enough. By September, her sales were booming but she could not take on new business because of her limited capacity.

Sister Sage Herbs sprang out of Jayne Simmons’ long interest in natural medicine. Jayne grows all the herbs for her products on a small farm on Vashon Island and she carefully develops each recipe for her artisanal tinctures. Jayne’s deep knowledge and passion for herbal medicine helped her grow Sister Sage Herbs from a small side project into a successful business. In 2013, she sold just over $9,000 worth of herbal tinctures at farmer’s markets on Vashon Island. Two years later, she had a booth at Pike Place Market and her sales topped $140,000.

“I was struggling just to keep up with the orders we had.”

Sister Sage Herbs
“Then I got stuck,” Jayne remembers. “People called to ask me about wholesaling every week, online sales were growing, and we were doing so well at Pike Place Market. I knew there were even more customers who could benefit from our herbs! But I was struggling just to keep up with the orders we had. I needed a way to produce enough product to keep up with demand while staying true to the handcrafted roots of our business.”

Jayne saw an opportunity for business growth. She believed that with a dedicated location, Sister Sage Herbs could increase revenue by $100,000 per year and decrease operating expenses by 20%. She found a location that met her needs but needed capital to transform the raw space into a functioning commercial kitchen. So Jayne reached out to Ventures for help. Ventures’ offers Business Builder loans of up to $35,000 to small business owners. Through the Ventures loan program, Jayne received a $33,000 loan to build out the new location, purchase equipment, and develop an inventory back stock.

Then Jayne received a $33,000 loan from Ventures.

Today, Sister Sage Herbs is operating successfully and efficiently out their own location in South Park. Sales continue to boom and Sister Sage Herbs now employs seven people. This year, Jayne’s business will exceed $300,000 in revenue. But for Jayne, that isn’t everything. “This is my dream business. My products help people on their journey to a healthier lifestyle. With the loan and supportive coaching from Ventures, I am able to do even more of what I love–handcrafting herbal remedies that enrich the lives of others.”

Find Sister Sage Herbs at the Ventures Marketplace, our retail store and business incubator in Pike Place Market.

Sister Sage Herbs, Jayne Simmons