Taking the plunge from a comfortable corporate lifestyle into the entrepreneurial unknown takes courage, and sometimes a calling. For Kristen Meeter, her heart was pulling her in the direction of big dreams.
Kristen started her career in the fashion and retail industry, working for Maurices for 11 years. Her job with Maurices led Kristen to Spencer, Iowa, to manage a store. There Kristen met her future husband, Eric Meeter, through their local church. But while Kristen was falling in love with Eric, she was falling out of love with her corporate job.
“I had the epiphany that the corporate world was not where I wanted to be for the rest of my life. I had too much entrepreneurial blood in my veins,” said Kristen.
With the support of her friends and family, Kristen quit her corporate job to pursue her dream of owning a business. She didn’t know exactly what her entrepreneurial life would look like, but she did know that she wanted to put a product out into the world that would enrich people’s lives.
After considering multiple business ideas, Kristen and Eric landed on a hand-stamped and hammered metal jewelry business. And in 2015, Pressed was born.
“As soon as Pressed came to life, you could just see Kristen’s spark, said Eric. “It was really where her heart was being called.”
From big dreams to big business
This calling was connected to overcoming a personal struggle. In the midst of an identity crisis, Kristen was drawn to jewelry that possessed a special meaning. By wearing these pieces, she was constantly reminded of truths she needed to believe.
With Pressed, Kristen felt called to create a line of jewelry inspired by the truths that guided her. “My hope was that the jewelry I made would help others through their pressing seasons,” said Kristen.
After lots of patience — and lessons from “YouTube University” — Kristen developed eight necklace designs to sell at the local farmers market.
After a year of selling at farmers markets and other outdoor venues, the couple received the news that they were accepted as exhibitors at the Clay County Fair in Spencer. The nine-day fair presented an opportunity to gain more exposure than ever before.
To take advantage of the opportunity, Eric and Kristen decided to expand their business into apparel design. With Eric’s basic computer background and a few more YouTube lessons, the couple launched seven T-shirt designs at the fair.
From farmers market to downtown storefront
As Pressed continued to grow, the couple began to realize that the next step in their professional journey needed to be a storefront. With the number of product offerings rising with demand, the two were running out of space.
Eric and Kristen began a nighttime ritual of walking around downtown Spencer and examining available buildings. After talking with Spencer’s Main Street coordinator and local representatives, they were asked to create a video explaining their passion for Pressed and their desire for a space downtown.
The couple sent their video to local bankers, and Northwest Bank responded immediately. Paul Daniels, a commercial lender at the branch in Spencer, called Eric a week later and said, “I saw your video; how can we help?”
Furthering financial relationships
Eric knew through previous experience the benefits of partnering with Northwest Bank. After returning home from college, Eric had dreamed of buying a home. When he found an abandoned house in Spencer, he worked with Northwest Bank to acquire a construction loan to buy the house and remodel it.
“I remodeled the house with my parents, and Northwest Bank made it possible. I already had a really great relationship with the bank, so it was natural fit,” said Eric.
After a space that met the business’s needs opened up for sale, Kristen and Eric worked with Paul to acquire two SBA loans: one to buy the building and make improvements, and the other for initial equipment and inventory.
In addition to the SBA loan support, Eric and Kristen regularly take advantage of the convenience of Northwest Bank’s Business Online. Using Business Online allows them to quickly make ACH and wire transfers right from the homepage. They can also view recent transactions and statements on their desktop. This means they spend less time on banking and more time making the products they love.
“It’s been a really amazing relationship,” said Kristen. “We’ve really enjoyed working with Paul; he has been so helpful and gracious to us.”
As Kristen and Eric continue to spread the word about their new retail store, they hope expand their business on multiple fronts: create a product line of letterpress greeting cards, establish relationships with retailers to sell Pressed products in regional and national boutiques, develop a photography and recording studio in the upstairs of their store as a creative resource for the community.
The future is both exciting and unknown, but one thing Eric and Kristen have learned for certain is that with the help of Northwest Bank — anything is possible.
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