LESTER PRAIRIE, Minn.— Kelly Brinkman has made it her job to pamper pooches of all sizes by opening Back Forty Grooming with help from Southwest Initiative Foundation’s (SWIF) Microenterprise Loan Program. The full-service dog grooming business opened in January and is located at Back Forty Kennel near Lester Prairie.
A professional communicator with experience in marketing, sales, business development, public speaking, writing, blogging and events, Brinkman has a wide variety of career experiences. But working day-to-day with dogs is shaping up to be her favorite.
“I can honestly say I have never felt like I had an occupational calling until now. I absolutely love working with every dog and striving to thrill their owners with their fresh looks,” Brinkman said. “I know I’m not changing the world, but each client is changing mine.”
Most recently, Brinkman volunteered on staff at Warrior Dog Rescue in Savage where she helped with cleaning, animal care, onboarding new volunteers and improving the health of the organization. When she relocated to Hutchinson, she decided to start her own business. She connected with Cindy Ardolf and Nicholas Buytaert, the business partners behind Back Forty Kennel. They opened in 2019, also with help from SWIF’s Microenterprise Loan Program. Sharing a location made great business sense for dog boarding and grooming.
Loan funds from SWIF helped Brinkman purchase equipment, inventory and supplies and provided working capital expenses. Loan programs have been a key function of SWIF since its inception to support communities and businesses throughout southwest Minnesota. In 2001, microlending was added to existing programs as a tool to support small businesses and people looking for self-employment opportunities.
“We’re happy to help Kelly get started. Pet grooming is a growing industry and there is a strong market in the area,” said SWIF Economic Development Officer Jackie Turner.
Microloan clients receive free technical assistance from SWIF staff to improve their business management skills. Areas of support include business planning and financials analysis, QuickBooks training, marketing assistance and other training opportunities for the life of the loan.
This microloan program receives funding assistance from the U.S. Small Business Administration and U.S. Department of Agriculture. For more information, contact SWIF at (800) 594-9480, (320) 587-4848 or send us an email.
About Southwest Initiative Foundation
Southwest Initiative Foundation (SWIF) is a nonprofit community foundation connecting people, investing in ideas and building communities to create a southwest Minnesota where all people thrive. Since its founding in 1986, SWIF has distributed more than $107 million through its grantmaking and business finance programs.