Small Business Dreams; Vision of Community Take Root

Community Ventures and the U.S. Small Business Administration continue to have a hand in new business development in Central, KY, as the two organizations have teamed up through the SBA Prime grant to provide direct support to small businesses.

Carla Fortner, a Tennessee native and military wife that has settled in Kentucky believes that one’s ‘diet’ includes everything that goes into or onto one’s body—and yes, even what enters the mind. That belief became a dream that culminated in Appalachian Root Works, located at 109 Joe B. Hall Court in the small town of Cynthiana, Kentucky. Appalachian Root Works’ aspirations of a brick-and-mortar storefront came to fruition in early 2021, due in large part to the abundance of sales ARW achieved at the 2020 Christmas Market at Mustard Seed Hill.

“Shawn Burns of Community Ventures was my connection for the Christmas Market,” Fortner remembers. “It was a fabulous event, and Shawn made it so easy for the vendors! The tables he provided, covered with linens…the signs were pretty and tasteful and there was no charge for any of that. The tent was fabulous! The event boosted my sales tremendously, and that’s what allowed me to open my store.”

Shawn also provided business training and support to ARW to help move her business in the right direction. Thanks to a funding from the U.S. Small Business Administration PRIME Grant, Community Ventures can provide one on one business training to entrepreneurs like Carla to get their business started.

And in the spirit of paying it forward, ARW is now helping a variety of budding entrepreneurs achieve dreams of their own. What started as an all-natural, holistic approach to soaps and lotions born of necessity has become a multi-faceted business.

“Appalachian Root Works is about community first,” notes Fortner. “A lot of people have amazing talent but don’t have money for their own place. We can give them that place to start.”

“My father was diagnosed with lung cancer and became super sensitive to fragrance oils and even some essential oils,” Fortner explained. “I began creating products that he could use, and that the rest of the family could use in his presence.”

When her creations became popular among family, friends and beyond, Fortner started operating ARW from her home. She quickly outgrew that space following her incredible success as a vendor at the Christmas Market.

Because a large part of Fortner’s vision focuses on community and giving back, Appalachian Root Works is now an outlet for other artists, makers and teachers. On any given day, those who wander in may find yoga or other classes or events in session. Fortner strives to make those activities affordable so that more people can participate. The work of other makers includes candles, jewelry, prints, macrame, tee shirts and even dream catchers. And Fortner plans to add more artists to the mix as space allows.

Truly a case of a businesses’ dreams taking root.

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