After two years spent researching shoe design and materials, Missoula native Maren Lorenz has gone all in on her new fashion business, Bean-An-Ti. The upstart venture specializes in trendy wood-bottom clogs with hand-dyed leather uppers.
As a startup, she wasn’t able to get a loan because most banks require businesses to have at least two years of profitable operating history. Maren’s friend Aimee McQuilkin, owner of Hip Strip boutique Betty’s Divine, told her about Montana & Idaho CDC, a local nonprofit that provides loans to entrepreneurs and businesses, including startups, who do not qualify for traditional bank financing. McQuilkin worked with Montana & Idaho CDC on the launch of her boutique, and she urged Maren to reach out to see if they could be a resource.
“Not only did Montana & Idaho CDC provide a loan that allowed me to purchase a leather-cutting machine and order the Spanish-made wood clog bottoms in bulk, they also guided me through the all the ins and outs of starting a business,” Maren said. “They made the experience of borrowing money and starting a business not scary.”