Tools For Building Their Dream - Little Tokyo Service Center

Tools For Building Their Dream

When Carol and Keith married 17 years ago, they shared a dream of retiring to own their own business. However, it wasn’t until a few years ago that inspiration hit. One Christmas, Keith designed and built a handmade wooden ukulele stand for Carol that could be folded to fit in the instrument’s case. Upon receiving the gift Carol thought, “This is it! This is what we can build our business on!”

They enthusiastically committed to the idea, but quickly realized that it took more than an amazing product to run a successful enterprise. “There were times we wanted to give up,” admitted Keith. “As seniors, we didn’t have that energy and drive to keep on going on our own,” added Carol. They needed guidance but did not know where to go.

One lucky day, the two were out for a walk when they saw a flier for an entrepreneurial workshop hosted by LTSC’s small business counselor, Mariko Lochridge. The workshop proved to be exactly what they needed. They learned essential skills like writing a business plan, marketing and applying for small business loans, but more importantly they found a network of support and resources.

“Without the workshops, we wouldn’t be here today talking about our business,” said Keith. “Having Mariko’s support gave us confidence and kept us going. We didn’t want to let her down,” remembers Keith.

In 2021, Carol and Keith received a patent for their original wooden music stand, known as the K-Stand. With Mariko’s guidance, the couple is exploring ways to expand their business, by adding a lower cost plastic version of the K-Stand. Though their business has continued to grow, they are most proud of their granddaughter who was inspired by them to start her own business. “When we give her advice, we have confidence that we’re telling her the right things,” Carol said with a laugh.

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