BYOB Be Your Own Boss: Funding Your Dream with Kiva

by Ari Takata-Vasquez

If there’s anything I’ve learned from being an entrepreneur it’s that you need to always be on your hustle. As a small business, with a very small team, there are never enough hours in the day, accessible resources, or money in the bank. But, what we do have are ideas, goals, and dream and those things keep us going through long hours and sleepless nights.


My vision for Viscera, has always been to curate and create beautiful things that are more than just objects that allow for and inspire creativity. What I mean by that, is that I want the products you get from us to mean something to you and also allow you to fulfill your creative potential. Even if it’s just a simple t-shirt, I want it to be a shirt you’re proud to say is made ethically in American and an article of clothing you feel confident wearing.


A part of fulfilling that vision is growing Viscera not only as a boutique, but as a brand. We design all of our 3D printed jewelry in house and proudly do all of our own photography, graphic design and styling. Every piece of the Viscera brand has been thought about and I want to offer a unique product with attention to detail. To grow our brand, I’m venturing into selling our jewelry wholesale to other boutiques across the country that share our ethos and put quality and design first.

3D printed Setae Rings 


Now, I’m sure you’re like ,“that’s a nice idea, Ari, but how do you pay for that growth?” While there are a number of different ways to fund your boss-hood, the latest I’ve gotten into is crowdfunding. I just finished running a Kiva crowdfunding campaign and raised a little under $10k in just over two days.  If you aren’t familiar with Kiva and you have a small business dream, you should definitely check them out.


Basically, you ask family and friends to help back you with a little as $25 then your campaign is posted on the Kiva network and people from around the globe can back your loan. It is a loan so you repay everything contributed to your campaign over x-amount of years.  It’s a great way to raise money because it's a 0% interest loan, unlike big banks that will charge 15% or more (and that’s if they’ll give you a loan). Beyond the financial benefit, I found Kiva gave me an emotional boost. Those of you who are self-employed know how lonely it to work for yourself and how challenging it can be to stay positive through the ups and downs of business. It feels good to have my community support me and put their own hard-earned money to help me and my business. It had me feeling like Sally Field saying, “You like me, you really like me.”


So if you’re thinking about doing a Kiva loan here are a few tips I can offer:


Like most things, preparation will make or break you. Prepare a list of people who you can contact to contribute to your campaign. Without this, you’ll be scrambling at the last minute to find that second-cousin-on-your-mom’s-side-best-friend to get funded. It doesn’t have to be elaborate, but have a plan and set goals for each day. Kiva provides an awesome day-to-day calendar to help you stay on track.

Be Genuine

Make sure you’re passionate about your project. People can tell if you’re sort of wishy-washy and honestly if you don’t believe in yourself then who else should? There are tons of other very worthy campaigns on Kiva so make sure your heart is really in it.

Tell Your Story

People want to hear your story, so make sure you can tell it. Tell them why this loan is important to you and how to you plan to use the funds. Update people on your campaign progress and let them be a part of the process. People are rooting for you, so let them into your world.

Express Your Gratitude

Saying “thank you” costs nothing, but means everything. Let people know you appreciate them and their support. If you express how much it means to you, they’re more likely to share it with friends because they can see how passionate you are about your project. Back to #2, this has to be genuine gratitude. No one wants a half-hearted “ty” in exchange for going out on a limb for you. 


So, what’s stopping you from getting on Kiva? Not sure you’re ready to post your own campaign? Then help support one of the many loans up there and see what the backing process is like. Have more questions? Email me! I’m always into helping other people becoming their own boss and following their small business dream.