Made In The USA – How The PPP Allowed Penelope Wildberry To Continue Manufacturing In Nevada
A true American manufacturer, Penelope Wildberry, has been in the business of producing apparel and accessories in the Las Vegas, Nevada area since 2008. What started as a small family-owned and operated passion project, Penelope Wildberry quickly evolved into a sprawling wholesale manufacturing plant that has seen great success over the years. In its early stages, the business outsourced some of the operations to help with cost and staffing. However, as ownership was transitioned over to Josh Mejia, he had visions of taking his mother-in-law’s vision to new heights.
In 2018, Josh transitioned all of the outsourced operations in-house and transformed the manufacturing plant into a fully one-hundred percent internal operation. With state-of-the-art manufacturing equipment, Penelope Wildberry was experiencing incredible growth. 2019 was their best year in revenue and performance, with booming online retail sales and an established presence in over 200 stores nationwide. This increase in operation also provided room for staff growth, allowing it to double in size.
Penelope Wildberry was on track to be wildly successful in 2020. However, COVID-19 had other plans in store. From one day to the other, the pandemic hit the east coast and forced the shut down of 90% of the stores where their product was carried. This loss of revenue immediately impacted production along with job stability at Penelope Wildberry. Josh was faced with enormous problems that he had never had to deal with.
Canceled orders and halted production caused Josh to make the heartbreaking decision to shut down completely and furlough staff. This was both professionally and personally difficult for him as they had built a tight-knit family culture. With no end in sight, Josh began to research different resources that he could tap into. Through his research, he found information about the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL). His initial application was rejected, but it is not in Josh’s nature to give up. He submitted his application again and received the funds. Shortly after, the Payroll Protection Program was announced, to which he also applied. However, this process proved to be even more frustrating than the EIDL.
Initially, as many other business owners did, Josh applied with his established business financial institution. He was sure that having been a loyal customer for years, he would receive excellent customer service, as he had previously experienced. The reality proved to be very different. Josh was almost immediately placed on a waitlist due to the overwhelming response. With no time to sit around and wait, as he had done before, Josh submitted his application to additional institutions. He reached out to two more well-known financial institutions, including an online payments system administrator. All these roads led to a dead end.
Just as he was about to give up seeking out help in securing the PPP, he began talking to his mother about the situation. That is when she connected him to Noe Gonzalez, Business Advisor at Prestamos CDFI. Months before the pandemic, she had met Noe at a community networking event and recalled that he had talked about Prestamos providing loans to small businesses. This ignited the fire in Josh, and he immediately reached out. Noe advised him to apply for the PPP and assisted him in gathering all the proper documentation required.
Josh immediately experienced the difference in the process with Prestamos. From the individualized service to the online application portal, everything felt uncomplicated and straightforward. “Noe was a tremendous help. It didn’t matter what time or day of the week it was he would respond and help.”, says Josh of his experience with Noe. Shortly after submitting his application, Josh received the highly anticipated news that he had been approved. The news of the approval from Prestamos lifted a massive weight of his shoulders. He felt like he could once again breathe and focus on getting Penelope Wildberry up and running again.
Immediately, Josh brought back all his staff and pivoted his production. With many of the stores carrying their product still closed, Josh and his team began producing face masks. This has helped ease the financial burden the company was in and allowed Josh to give staff their jobs back. Thinking back on his experience with Prestamos, Josh feels very grateful to have had Noe on his side. “Noe is on it! He knew exactly how to help. He is amazing and helped in every way. You can tell he genuinely cares about people, which makes the biggest difference.”, says Josh.
Although he may be uncertain about the future, Josh is ready to keep pushing forward. This experience taught him a lot about the business and forced him to think outside of the box. He will now start putting a stronger focus on the direct to consumer. This will allow him to have more control over the product and less reliant on outside vendors. Josh believes that the help Prestamos provided with the PPP has made an immense impact and has allowed Penelope Wildberry to stay in business. Without help from Prestamos, he is unsure about where the company would be currently. Most of all, he is grateful that he could keep his staff, his family employed through this trying time. Josh is proud of having a manufacturing company where all his products are 100% made in the USA by the hard-working people of this country. He is looking forward to continued growth and is hopeful that he will move forward with expansion plans.
Prestamos CFDI continues to work and impact small businesses in our market communities of Arizona, Nevada, and New Mexico. We exist to help nurture and grow entrepreneurs through their journeys. We are a mission-driven entity that operates under the non-profit Chicanos por La Causa, which provides communities with resources ranging from health, education, financial services, housing, and advocacy. Prestamos continues its efforts to advance our work to provide high-quality financial products and services for small businesses that lead to impactful economic development projects. We invite you to visit our website to find out how you can be part of this impact.