Aimee and Nathaniel Brigham own Aluma Aesthetic Medicine in NE Portland -- a physician-owned aesthetic medicine practice specializing in FDA-approved prescription injectables to smooth wrinkles, volumize depleted facial areas, enhance features, and smooth skin texture. Aimee attended the PCC SBDC Business Builders program in the fall of 2019. She believes that the program has helped their business thrive, even during the COVID-19 pandemic. This is their story.
What inspired you to start Aluma Aesthetic Medicine?
The practice of aesthetic medicine has been around for years. Lately, there has been a significant increase in the use of injectable cosmetic treatments to treat facial aging. Recent medical techniques provide a more comprehensive understanding of aging processes and advanced treatment techniques than we had in the past.
Inspired by a negative personal experience in this arena, where I wished I had done my homework before the consultation, Nate and I were encouraged to open a clinic and bring professionalism, integrity, and expertise to aesthetic medicine while specializing in natural and pleasing results.
Our injectors are experts in their treatment areas, combining knowledge and experience to create consistently natural and harmonious results. Clients visit us wanting to look and feel better. We opened our practice to bring expertise, safety, and consistency to the aesthetic medicine arena.
Before coming to the SBDC what challenges were you facing in your business? Since both Nate and I have healthcare degrees (not business degrees), we had little idea how much was involved in running a business. We had the business concept underway and were working towards excellent client relations; however, we needed help with financials (balance sheets, profit margins, cash flow) and our business organization (legal issues/questions, business processes, and employees). After the first class, I realized I needed more help than I thought. I needed help with marketing, understanding our clients better, branding, our elevator pitch, our market position. . . the list goes on. In class we were introduced to a tool called "The GrowthWheel," which I often revisit. It's a super handy tool to gauge your strengths and weaknesses as a business so you can focus on doing the work.
What types of services did you receive and in which programs did you participate? I attended the Small Business Builders course and did not miss a class. The instructors were knowledgeable and fun. I enjoyed meeting other entrepreneurs and having that space to realize we were all beginners (which is an enjoyable thing to be). Honestly, we would not still be in business without the classes and the advisors. The most beneficial thing for us was the advising help - each advisor is a specialist in an area of business - from marketing to financials to funding. They helped us organize and execute.
How have the services or programs helped you overcome those challenges? Currently, we are trying to purchase a building and are working with a member of the Capitol Access Team ("CAT team") to help us seek funding for it. This involves having a comprehensive business plan, current P&L's, and operating statements. The tools given to us to use for this have been monumental in this process. Again, if I had not gone to the Small Business Builders class and obtained advising, I would not have had my financials organized and likely would not have seen the customer growth we have experienced. I still have so much to learn and feel thankful my advisors are willing to help me along the way.
What have you been doing to innovate your business through the adverse conditions surrounding the Coronavirus pandemic? We feel fortunate that we did not have to pivot a ton. We did close down for three months during the initial lockdown stages, and we saw a stall in growth. Instead of sitting idle, we decided to update our website and brand. We used the time to build customer engagement and enhance our business procedures. As things reopen slowly, we have changed our operations to have minimal patient-to-patient contact. Currently our clients wait in their cars for the provider. When the pandemic is over we look forward to having reception and a full waiting room.
What would you say to other small business owners thinking of working with the SBDC? The SBDC is a lifeline, a gift. The classes and advising are worth every minute.
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Programs and services are provided to the public on a non-discriminatory basis. Language assistance service are available for limited English proficient individuals. Reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities will be made if requested at least two weeks in advance. Please contact us at 971-722-5080 or email@example.com, to request accommodations. Oregon Small Business Development Centers are funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration, and the Oregon Business Development Department.