Sometimes a little bit of capital – somewhere in the range of $2,500 to $3,500 – is all a business owner needs to get started or to make a small change. This capital can help build a website, buy equipment, or – as the story of Ron Edwards will show you – open a quaint, Caribbean-themed café in Crested Butte.
Born in New York, Edwards’ journey to Western Colorado is a story of resiliency. He started in the Marine Corps in 1981, which brought him to Southeast Asia – a place that drastically changed his “relationship with food.” The unique cuisine of the region inspired him to “understand the connection between the entire process of cooking – the aroma, the smells, the looks, the natural fetish.”
An impromptu visit to Crested Butte on his 32nd birthday created a domino effect that established his roots in Western Colorado. On the fourth day of his visit, he signed on as day laborer hauling logs. Edwards was diagnosed with Multiple Scoliosis in 2006 and suffered a brain injury in 2010. Despite these hardships, he remained genuinely positive. His health situation inspired him “to love more despite how I feel.”
Based on his fascination with food and a local demand for his jerk chicken that he was serving at the local farmers’ market, Edwards decided to open a café. He found the perfect location.
Edwards’ natural entrepreneurial skillset took him a tipping point. He had secured private financing and successfully crowdfunded via an Indiegogo campaign, but it wasn’t quite enough to push his project to its ideal starting point.
A meeting took place that changed everything. Edwards met Linda Riba, Assistant Director for the SBRC, and their interaction led to a serendipitous realization: Edwards needed funding, and Riba recently spearheaded a new loan program designed specifically for projects like Edwards’.
“This was right on time,” Edwards referring to his introduction to the Small Changes program. “It’s such a niche lending mechanism. The SBDC has helped me also with breakeven calculations and I appreciate Marilyn Laverty’s wizardry with Excel spreadsheets. I have learned a lot from her accounting expertise.”
With funding secured though SBRC, Edwards moved forward with opening Heartsong’s Caribbean Crunchies. The quaint location – 403 4th Street in Crested Butte – a bright and vibrant tribute to Edwards’ Barbados roots.
His menu boasts an organic lineup, with the only exception being the meat, which is all raised locally. “We know exactly where all of our ingredients come from,” Edwards shares. Crowd favorites include crunchies, mango-ginger lemonade, jerk chicken, black eyed peas, and coconut rice. Heartsong’s mission statement is– “to provide a place of peace, to serve joy, love, and laughter with organic foods and drinks” – personifies the genuine, humble, and loving nature of Ron Edwards.
“When people eat my café, they get to understand what love tastes like,” Edwards beams.