2014 Calling All Dreamers: And the winner is…

The Downtown Sacramento Foundation (DSF) selected Ana Apple as the the 2014 Calling All Dreamers Competition.

Grand Prize winner Ana Apple will receive a business start up package valued at $135,000. The quirky, eco-friendly line of apparel for infants, youth and adults will open its first retail store at 1200 2nd Street in Old Sacramento in time for the holiday season. The 1,000 square foot storefront will house Ana Apple’s retail experience, production studio, and a community workshop space for youth ages 5-18. The company mantra, “small actions add up to make a significant impact,” embodies the entrepreneurial spirit and philosophy for growing small businesses in which the competition was created to cultivate in Downtown Sacramento. Ana Apple will be a perfect complement to the historic Old Sacramento district’s retail mix and its diverse community of local entrepreneurs.

“One of my favorite quotes is ‘Goals are dreams with deadlines.’ I’ve had this huge dream for the next phase of my business for a while, but no concrete plan for how to execute it. By entering Calling All Dreamers, I invested the time and energy into figuring out how to bring my vision to life,” said Ana Manzano, owner of Ana Apple. “It’s an honor to have been chosen among such talented, passionate fellow entrepreneurs who put their dreams onto paper. Putting roots down in Old Sacramento gives us the chance deliver a full guest experience, showcase our growing product line and execute the ideas that will enhance our brand’s impact.”

Ana Apple was selected from a field of 33 contestants, ranging from a diverse mix of restaurant, retail and service concepts. Businesses were evaluated based on creativity, owner experience and passion, and the viability of the business and strength of the plan.

“It wasn’t an easy decision. This was a strong pool of finalists,” said Ali Youseffi of CFY Development and Calling All Dreamers selection panel member. “The future is bright for all of the finalists, not only because they all have viable business concepts that would likely succeed in downtown, but more importantly because they are all driven entrepreneurs who are motivated and ready to open new businesses. All five finalists might end up with businesses in Downtown Sacramento in the near future, which is a huge win for our city.”

Economic development and small business growth is a top priority for the Downtown Sacramento Partnership (DSP), a Property Based Improvement District (PBID) focused on Downtown Sacramento and sister organization to the DSF. Several years ago, the DSP dedicated a staff position to recruiting and retaining small businesses into the urban core.

“Through our work with local entrepreneurs, we found that first year is the most difficult for small businesses. Many startups struggle with capital, overhead expenses, public permitting processes and the details of actually managing a business,” said Valerie Mamone-Werder, DSP Sr. Manager of Business Development. “We designed this competition to help entrepreneurs navigate those challenges with the intent of helping all contestants open storefronts Downtown.”

The Calling All Dreamers grand prize was specifically designed to provide the winner with the essential resources and tools needed to successfully open a business. The total prize package is valued at $135,000 and includes a cash prize of $10,000 in matching funds. As grand prize winner, Ana Apple will will also receive a year of free rent from AKT Investments at 1200 2nd Street, up to $10,000 in labor from MarketOne Builders, Inc. for space build out, advertising space in Sactown Magazine, Inside Publications and Sacramento Magazine, web design and creative services from Vision Launchers, branding strategy from MeringCarson, a year of free voice and internet service from Consolidated Communications, an interior design consultation from LJ2 Interiors, up to 15 hours of accounting consultations from Brown Fink Boyce & Astle LLP, a year of service with Big Hairy Dog for a POS system, up to 10 hours of legal services from the Law Office of Kristina M. Reed and printing services from T. Dogg Studios. The program was also made possible by the generous support from The City of Sacramento Economic Development Department, SMUD, Sacramento State and Wells Fargo.

Last year, the inaugural Calling All Dreamers generated interest from entrepreneurs, created demand for downtown retail space, and generated leads for new businesses.

“This competition is the essence of economic development,” said Youseffi. “Calling All Dreamers is in a very focused and direct way enhancing the retail and business environment in Downtown Sacramento and encouraging an increasing number of entrepreneurs to choose downtown as the home for their businesses.”

The two winning businesses from 2013 – Andy’s Candy Apothecary and The Dailey Method, opened their doors in downtown in less than one year, creating 3 new full-time jobs and 11 part-time positions. The Calling All Dreamers winners now occupy a lively block.

“The competition gave me a much needed boost and provided me with the foundation and knowledge and expertise in every area imaginable to start my business,” said Andy Paul owner of Andy’s Candy Apothecary and the 2013 Grand Prize Winner. “It was the perfect opportunity for me – my business concept was half-formed. I just needed some momentum to solidify it.”

For more about the competition, visit www.callingalldreamers.org. To learn more about grand prize winner Ana Apple.