Lovely Hollow Farms
Running a business

Success was in the cards for these small businesses. See them blossom in our small business success scrapbook

National Small Business Month is recognized every year in May to celebrate a cornerstone of our economy: small businesses and the people who run them. After all, two-thirds of consumers say small businesses are the lifeblood of their community, according to recent QuickBooks data. And 7 in 10 say they want their local small businesses to get more recognition. 

Starting and running a business is no easy feat. For the 80% of new businesses that continue on after their first year, success means providing for their families by doing what they love, building a good reputation among consumers, and making a difference to their communities. 

Success looks different for every small business, but every small business owner can agree that part of being successful is having enough confidence in your vision to work through obstacles like accessing capital, managing inflation, and improving cash flow. These financial challenges are top of mind for today’s small business owners, and more than half of small business owners (56%) say good financial management and access to capital is their secret to success. 

But don’t take our word for it. Check out the following small business success stories and flip through the scrapbook of small business success to see how these business owners survived and thrived beyond year one. 

Lovely Hollow Farms cultivates success

Meet Nicole “Nikki” Van Lith, the founder of Lovely Hollow Farms, a you-pick flower farm located on Chicken Dinner Road in Caldwell, Idaho. Nikki is about to embark on her fourth flower season with Lovely Hollow Farms—and she expects to serve thousands of customers this summer. The live music and food trucks she hosts every Wednesday night are a far cry from the quiet, intimate season of flower picking she launched with in 2019, but she wouldn’t have it any other way. Providing the people of Idaho (and beyond!) with flowers, food, and entertainment is Nikki’s definition of success. This is her story.

July 2020: Hiring a team.
July 2020: Hiring a team.

Why did you start Lovely Hollow Farms?

I started Lovely Hollow Farms because I wanted to create a place where people could come together, forget their busy lives for a few hours, and get lost in nature and farmland. 

I have always known I wanted to be an entrepreneur, and I really enjoy being around people and serving the community. I saw that the Treasure Valley [where the farm is located in Idaho] did not have anything like it, and I knew that I could create it.

How did you grow your business?

When I opened in 2019, it was a quiet season of flower picking. The next season was the opposite. The pandemic shut down many recreational activities, and my flower farm was one of the few places one could go and enjoy in 2020. I grew 80% in sales, brought in food trucks and entertainment, and Lovely Hollow became somewhat of a novelty to the Treasure Valley. 

What’s one lesson you learned along the way?

Get organized and ask for help. I used to try to do it all on my own, but that’s not possible anymore. The art of delegation is something to master! I love my Lovely Hollow team and am so thankful for their hard work.

What are some obstacles you had to overcome? 

My first location was 25 miles from town, in the middle of nowhere. I didn’t own the land; I didn’t like the parking setup; and I was limited to what I could and couldn’t do. In October 2021, I moved the farm. It was the toughest decision I have ever had to make, but it had been a long time coming.

The farm is now located on the road I grew up on—much closer to town and in a more central location. I expect many more events and collaborations with local businesses to take place because of the centrality of the location.

Did you need an initial investment or start-up capital?

Starting in 2019, I invested some money from a stock account I had grown. It paid for my irrigation system, seeds, and my little flower shed. In the following years I used cash flow from each previous year to fund new projects—a barn, a fence, landscaping. 

Moving the farm location was a different story. I have had to secure a farm loan through a local credit union, and take big risks on myself and this farm. Moving and rebuilding the farm is quite an expensive project and it will take me several years to pay back the loan. But it’s so worth it.

What’s it like to turn your passion into your business?

I am extremely grateful to have stumbled into flower farming and that it gives me fulfillment as well as financial support.

But also, it’s a lot of risk. If I don’t dedicate 100% it shows on the business front. Sometimes it’s easy to get distracted by the massive to-do list, delegating, and coordinating. So it’s all about balance and making sure that I am not setting myself up to burn out. 

But all in all, turning a passion into a business is the best thing that has ever happened to me. 

Learn more about Lovely Hollow Farms at or @lovelyhollowfarm on Instagram and Facebook.

Curiosity Lab finds success and happiness

Michael Tennant, the founder of Curiosity Lab, is a writer and movement builder dedicated to spreading tools of empathy and helping people find their purpose. Founded in New York City in 2017, Curiosity Lab is a creative studio built on empathy and inclusion that supports the culture in organizations, building trust, connection, and well-being through consulting, workshops, and experiences. Curiosity Lab is the company behind the popular conversation card game Actually Curious, which helps people strengthen their empathy skills and build trust. This is their story. 

The second deck of questions: Actually Curious Happy Hour Edition
The second deck of questions: Actually Curious Happy Hour Edition

Why did you start your business?

Curiosity Lab started as a purpose-driven marketing services agency. We helped businesses identify their values, and created purpose-forward strategies and marketing campaigns. In 2018, we created a campaign to fight divisiveness in this country leading up to the midterm elections. Grounded in our own values, we set out to create 100 decks of Actually Curious as a test, and it sold out really fast. We knew we were on to something.

In 2021, we created—a free, digital tool to help individuals form a clear articulation of their values. Today, we create products and experiences that can help people live happier, healthier, and more inclusive lives.

Did you need an initial investment or start-up capital?

Because we were still doing the agency work at Curiosity Lab, we were able to create those first 100 decks without any outside investment. But after some personal hardship in 2019, I took out a personal loan just to survive, and took Actually Curious on the road to find values-aligned independent shops in the hopes of spreading this empathy movement. Connecting with shop owners and other people along the way has been so important for the growth of Actually Curious, and taking that leap of faith wouldn’t have been possible without the security that the loan provided at that time.

How did you grow your business?

We went all-in and decided to go on a road trip across the country, looking up the cutest values-aligned retail shops in each city, and that’s really when the movement to spread empathy took off. 

During the rise of the social justice movement in 2020, Actually Curious was often featured in the media as a Black-Owned Business to support, and was even featured on Beyoncé’s Black Parade list. On the one-year anniversary of the death of George Floyd, we released the Actually Curious Human Rights Edition, curated alongside 35 thought-leaders within social justice, environmentalism, mental health, and LGBTQIA+ and women’s rights. These milestones definitely had a big impact on the growth and success of Curiosity Lab and Actually Curious. 

What’s one lesson you learned along the way?

Since we don’t have a physical store for Actually Curious, we do our best to nurture the relationships we have with our retail partners, as well as meet new, values-aligned shop owners across the country. We prioritize going to the New York-based tradeshow, Shoppe Object, to connect with retailers in person. While it’s hard work being at a trade show, especially as a small team, it’s definitely worth the time and financial investment for us.

What are some obstacles you had to overcome?

As we’ve grown, one of the biggest obstacles has been to be really thoughtful about how we spend our time and what partnerships to prioritize.

In 2020, we started doing empathy-building workshops with businesses, brands, non-profits, and within education. It’s been crucial for us to find the balance between doing the workshops and running a consumer brand.

What’s it like to turn your passion into your business?

It’s like having a dream come true. Every day I go to work feels like going out to recess to play. Even on the hard days—because it’s never easy running a small business—we feel grateful and privileged to be in a position to work on something we truly believe in and love. It is definitely rewarding, even though it can certainly also be difficult to fully unplug and recharge.

Find Actually Curious at or @actuallyc_rious on Instagram.

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