There’s a moment of risk that many entrepreneurs have experienced – the decision to leave a full-time job to pursue a small business. For Danielle McLaren, that moment came in 2018, when she decided to go all-in on her small business, The Craft Loft.

Danielle knew that she wanted to excel in entrepreneurship, but needed some guidance to help get started in the right direction. Danielle started her journey with the Michigan SBDC in January of 2019, and began by attending our Starting a Business, Writing a Business Plan, and Marketing Your Business in-person training sessions. These courses gave her a strong foundation to grow her business.

“At the end of 2018, I left my full-time job and knew that if I wanted to turn my side hustle into full-time work that I needed some guidance,” said Danielle. “So I signed up for all of the SBDC courses offered near me. I had the chance to talk one-on-one and was the only one to show up for one of those classes so it turned into a one-on-one session with Shannon and the rest is history!”

The Craft Loft, located in St. Clair, is built on in-person gatherings, so the pandemic created several challenges for Danielle. Prior to the pandemic, The Craft Loft occupied a small space in the upstairs of another business. She could host 10-12 people and while the quarters were tight, it was a cozy atmosphere. When the shutdown came, Danielle knew she needed to pivot in order to keep her business alive. With everyone staying at home, she came up with the idea to start offering DIY home craft kits. From kid’s crafts to adult art projects, she kept her creativity going by bringing her business to customer’s homes. Not only has her small business survived the shutdown, but her 2020 sales have exceeded previous years.

With the help of the Michigan SBDC and consultant Shannon Schwabe, she was awarded an MEDC Patronicity Grant which helped her to move into her new location. Now she can safely host 20 people while maintaining social distancing and complying with the health department guidelines. She also received a branding package with Blended Collective through the Michigan SBDC statewide services and a website through the network’s regional services.

“The guidance, resources and encouragement my SBDC consultant has provided me with have really helped me along my entrepreneurial journey.”

Learn more about The Craft Loft by visiting

Published: February 22, 2021


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