FAIRFAX, Minn. – Tina Castillo is expanding her smalltown bakery in Fairfax with help from Southwest Initiative Foundation’s (SWIF) Microenterprise Loan Program. Castillo purchased the Sweet Spot Bake Shop LLC from a previous owner in 2016 and has made a name for herself with whimsical cakes, delicious donuts and cupcakes.
Following a career in broadcasting and banking, Castillo studied for a degree in culinary arts from Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Minneapolis and then spent five years as a baker and cake decorator in Stillwater and St. Paul. She worked her way up from a bakery assistant to assistant manager for cake decorating.
“Once the bakery I was working at closed, I decided it was the right time to open my own bakery. The first time I came to Fairfax to look at the bakery, I fell in love with the town. Having never lived in a small town I wasn’t sure what to expect, but the people and community welcomed me with open arms,” Castillo said. “After closing for a short period of time during COVID, I was amazed at how much support this community gave me once I opened back up, and that support continues to this day.”
At Sweet Spot Bake Shop, Castillo’s skills are on display in cases of donuts, cookies and cupcakes. She also specializes in custom cakes and cupcakes. Currently, the bakery has a staff of three, including Castillo. She’d like to expand her team and be open longer hours. Loan proceeds from SWIF will go toward working capital for the bakery’s expansion.
As part of the loan program, Castillo is also enrolled in Startup Reinvention, which leads a group of hardworking, passionate entrepreneurs through a hands-on process to help them assess today’s challenging business landscape and create a new vision for the future.
“Tina’s talents and hard work are creating new opportunities and adding something unique to the community. We’re proud to support her and her small business,” said Jackie Turner, SWIF Economic Development Officer.
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.
Microloan clients also 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 [email protected].
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 $97.8 million through its grantmaking and business finance programs.