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By Lorraine Sanders
Running a business out of the home often comes with perks, such as low overhead, independence, and flexible hours. But the lower visibility that goes hand in hand with these advantages can leave small businesses in a bind. So what's an eager home-based entrepreneur to do to reach local customers?
Take it to the streets, suggests the Noe Valley Merchants and Professionals Association. Just in time for San Francisco Small Business Week (May 16-23), the neighborhood group is planning an event to highlight home-based and other small businesses in Noe Valley. The association is inviting local entrepreneurs to set up shop on sidewalks along 24th Street on Saturday, May 16, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
"Our biggest challenge is who are the professionals in home-based businesses and how do we reach them," says Association President Gwen Sanderson.
In recent weeks, Sanderson and Noe Street resident Carol Hornibrook, an at-home entrepreneur who creates video family histories through her company So Tell Me More, have been reaching out to Noe Valley business owners and encouraging them to get involved in what they hope will become an annual event.
"What we're trying to do is help people who have their businesses at home or professionals who work out of the home to get some visibility in the neighborhood," Hornibrook explains.
Businesses of all types are welcome, including dog walkers, massage therapists, home repair specialists, accountants, artists, musicians, photographers, and graphic designers. The goal this year is to attract between 15 and 20 businesses. To learn more or get involved, call Carol Hornibrook at 415-699-1045 or Gwen Sanderson at 415-509-6261 or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com by May 12.
GirlBiz Showcases Handmade Art
Deayn Boger is another entrepreneur promoting home-based businesses this month, but in a different way. On May 2, Boger held the third GirlBiz sale event she's organized in Noe Valley at Bernie's Cafe on 24th Street. The sales, which Boger has held about every three months since launching GirlBiz last December, feature accessories, jewelry, and edibles made by women in the Bay Area.
At the most recent event, Boger showcased items made by 10 women. Priced from $7 to $125, items ranged from homemade jams to handmade barrettes, gemstone earrings to hand-dyed silk scarves, and vintage-inspired aprons.
"I definitely promote them and their story. I have a sales background, and it's pretty easy for me to communicate about the products that are made," says Boger, who hopes to continue the events in Noe Valley at regular intervals throughout the year.
To learn more about GirlBiz and participating designers, visit www. girlbizshop.com. For more information about Small Business Week, go to www.sfsmallbusinessweek.com.