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October 05, 2023 | Shannon Smith

865 Opportunity Fund helps turn home business to storefront

865 Candle Company is now open in South Knoxville, thanks in part to the new 865 Opportunity Fund loan program.

The 865 Candle Company, specializing in soy hand-poured candles, started in 2018 as a home-based wholesale and online retail business. After encouragement from customers and help from Pathway Lending’s 865 Opportunity Fund, the owners were able to open a storefront earlier this month.

The 865 Opportunity Fund loan provided working capital and enabled owners Anjannette (AJ) and Torrie Dreier to purchase storage shelving, product displays, and raw materials to expand their retail inventory.

“We were referred to Pathway Lending by another local maker business,” Torrie told the Knoxville Chamber. “The process was easy. We received the funds about four weeks after we applied. We’re taking advantage of the free business coaching that Pathway provides because we like to learn and feel there’s always room for improvement.”

Located in South Knoxville at 6204 Chapman Highway, the warm and inviting store offers candles and other sustainable products made from essential oils, including refillable car fresheners, diffusers, incense cones, room sprays, aromatherapy inhalers, and roll-on perfumes. AJ and Torrie say the candles they developed have a strong scent throw, meaning the fragrance travels far and can fill up a large room. Customers can also shop for home décor from Wildtree Lane, which shares space in the store. Adjoining space can be rented by the hour for meetings or per student for classes.

Members of The Maker City, AJ and Torrie feel that Knoxville is a great place to start a business due to the availability of business support services and community spirit. Believers in giving back, they’ve helped organizations through candle fundraisers, including the Service Industry Coalition of Knoxville during the pandemic, Knoxville Gay Men’s Chorus, and Isaiah 117 House, a home for children waiting to be placed in foster care.

“The chamber is proud to be a part of a thriving community that is largely supported by small businesses,” said Nancy Nabors, Knoxville Chamber Director of Regional Enhancement. “We strive to partner with business support services such as Pathway Lending to address gaps in access to capital.”

The 865 Opportunity Fund is part of a collaborative effort aimed at expanding Knoxville’s small business ecosystem, with opportunities focused on minority- and woman-owned businesses in Anderson, Blount, Grainger, Jefferson, Knox, Loudon, Roane, Sevier, and Union counties. Rebranded earlier this year, the fund is a collaboration between Pathway Lending, First Horizon, Pinnacle Financial Partners, and Regions Bank with an emphasis on providing loans between $5,000 and $50,000 to eligible small businesses.

Businesses interested in learning more about the 865 Opportunity Fund can schedule an inquiry via Zoom or phone call with Vice President of Lending Aaron Owen here.

Pathway Lending is a nonprofit, mission-driven lending institution that serves Tennessee communities and small businesses and specializes in working with veteran, women, minority, rural, and low-income small business borrowers. In addition to the 865 Opportunity Fund, the organization offers a complete catalog of small business and commercial loan products, from $5,000 to $5 million, and a full range of learning programs, from classrooms to one-to-one coaching, to businesses at any stage in any industry.

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