Here at Cayan, we work with a lot of small businesses, and we never cease to admire their dedication and creativity. That’s why today, we’re joining companies across the nation in celebrating National Mom and Pop Business Owners Day.

We spoke to six businesses about their stories, their hopes, and what keeps them going. They work in different areas and have different strategies, but they do all have one thing in common: passion. Below are excerpts from our conversations with each store.

Oregon Du Drops
Oregon Du Drop is a unique business based out of Rockaway Beach, Oregon. Run by James S. Du Bois and Cathleen Freshwater Du Bois, the owners collect and store each day's rain and dew. As a memento, here you can find the water from a meaningful date in your life, encased in glass.

James explained their process and said that, for the two of them, one of the major attractions of running their own business is the freedom:

"We collect our Oregon rain right here on the Oregon coast, maybe 100 yards from the surf line of the Pacific Ocean.  We are not limited to rainy days, for we also collect dew when the rain refuses to fall.

“Opening my own business was a means to sell my artwork, and since 2001, Cathleen’s music. Having a business allows one more liberty and freedom of expression than working for someone else. Freedom of expression is very important in art.

“Having our own business affords Cathleen and me the opportunity to work 24/7 with no vacation in sight, yet every morning we wake up with a smile at the prospects of the day ahead and wouldn’t have it any other way.

“Consider the alternatives: making someone else money by the fruit of our labor and having no freedom of expression while doing it.”

Pets Earth
Pets Earth is a pet store in Papillion, Nebraska, that sells natural and organic pet food as well as other pet services. Run by the local Bishoff family, they started their business when they realized there was a need in the area for a wholesome and healthy environment where pets could be fed, washed and groomed. In fact, that local-minded spirit leads them to host events throughout the year:

“We support all aspects of our community.  Every Saturday we have local rescues at the store to promote the animals that have to be adopted.  So many animals want to find their fur-ever home!  We also get involved in local functions and fundraisers, varying from donations to setting up a booth at an event. 

“Everyone in the area is so loyal and caring about their community, it would make it hard to not want to be involved.

“When we hear positive feedback from a customer, it makes us happy to know that not only did the customer receive a great experience but also our staff had great care for their needs.  The care and well-being for our four legged friends keeps us going.”

Hathorne Dental
Hathorne Family Dental is a dentist’s office in Danvers, Massachusetts, that works with patients of all ages to keep teeth healthy. Owner Dr. Linda Vaka worked as part of a larger practice for 15 years and then, in her words, “figured it was about time to venture off on my own!” Her story illustrates the unique difficulties that face the wide variety of small businesses in America:

“Using the right marketing techniques to bring in new patients has been a challenge. When starting a small business, you are inundated with phone calls, so sifting through that and figuring out what is the best fit for my business has proven to be a challenge. 

“Running a business can be hard, but my children keep me going. I want to make sure I am successful so I can show them that no matter how old you are, you can go out and make it on your own."

Duddy’s Liquors
Despite their youth (they’re both in their twenties), Christopher and George Diantgikis have already been running Duddy’s Liquors in Peabody, Massachusetts for two and a half years. When they decided to start their business, they knew they had a passion for the industry, but they found out along the way all the obstacles they’d have to overcome:

“We've had a whole bunch of challenges along the way from staffing, to banking and accounting—you name it. The hardest challenge was not being in the liquor industry prior to starting the store, and only having knowledge of the items we would have to drink on occasion. Learning hundreds of new wines, umpteen different craft beers and topping it off with a vast collection of spirits—it became a whole new world to us. We’d take a risk on a product and see if it would sell, and if it didn't we needed to find ones that would.

“Still, after a few years of doing this and growing the wine, liquor and beer sections, sometimes the hardest challenge is picking out a bottle of wine for someone. Finding the flavors they like, the grape, white or red, dry or sweet—there are so many factors that go into it. On top of that, once they leave it has us sometimes thinking ‘I hope they enjoy it,’ or if it’s a gift I hope the person likes it, if it’s for a celebration you hope they're having a great night. All of that is a challenge. Giving these people that come into our business a great experience, great products at an affordable price—that’s what we strive to do.”

Owens Flower Shop
Some people have always know they want to be a business owner—but Kristen Spacek has a different story. Kristen owns Owens Flower Shop in Lawrence, Kansas, but when she started there she never thought she’d be the owner. Instead, she was working there as a designer, and when the owners decided to retire, they asked her if she’d like to take over the 70-year-old flower shop. With the support of the former owners and her passion for flowers and design, Kristen said she’s going strong:

“My advice to other small business owners: Have patience! There are always bumps in the road and obstacles to overcome. Try not to get discouraged when things don’t always go the way you want them to. These are just growing pains, and learning what works best for you and your business. Don’t go into business just for the money. Make sure you have a little love for it as well!

“We donate flowers and permanent botanicals throughout the year to various charity events and auctions. We’re involved with the St. Patrick’s Day parade flowers and also make hair pieces every year for all the girls attending our local Parks and Rec Daddy-Daughter dance.

“The local community is why we are still in business after 70 years. Lawrence is such a wonderful place to live and full of the best people. This town is all about shopping ‘local,’ which is great for any small business. We received great support from our local Chamber of Commerce with a ribbon cutting ceremony for our recent expansion and also our local funeral homes do a great job of referring both local and out of town inquiries to us.”

k colette
k colette is a store in Portland, Maine that sells artisan-made goods sourced from around the world, but owner Karen Burke hasn’t always been running businesses. Instead, a few years ago, she was inspired to try something new, and Karen said she knew what she wanted to sell:

“After years of being a teacher, a hands-on mom, and an active member of the local community, I was ready for a total change of pace. I had always been interested in owning my own business, and I had always been very drawn to artful, one-of-a-kind products like textiles and ceramics. I have artists in my own family whose work I’ve always championed and who gave me a special appreciation for craft. It felt like a natural extension to support the work of a wider community of creatives by opening this type of store, that’s dedicated not only to supporting our local artisans and makers but bringing the work of more far-flung, even international, artists, into the fray. I feel lucky to have landed on a business that brings all of that together.

“I love a challenge and I have a great desire to succeed, but what truly keeps me going is our mission: when I first started doing this, I did it with the intention of supporting artisans, wanting that to be sustainable for us and them. I don’t want to give up on that. I think we are making a difference in a small way by helping these incredibly talented artists become more financially viable. I feel that we’ve created something really symbiotic and I want that to last—for the craftsmen and women as much as for the company.”

​​Spotlight on National Mom and Pop Day