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Small Business Success Story: Past Lives

Posted by PCC Small Business Development Center on October 19, 2022

Past Lives is a 26,000 square foot maker-space located in Eastside Portland. Inspired by a life-changing accident and time spent in prison, founder Brandon Morlock created Past Lives to change the way work is done and provide second-chance employment for people coming out the prison system. Unlike any other maker-space in Portland, Past Lives offers a wood shop, metal shop, machine shop, screen-printing machinery, fabric arts shop, stained glass shop, tech hub, electronics fab bench, art framing area, common work areas and private studio spaces to their members. After working with Bruce Melzer, SBDC Capital Access Team expert, Morlock secured an investment to open Past Lives' new location and grow his business. This is Morlock's story. 

Read more about Morlock's entrepreneurial experience below!

Thank you for sharing your inspirational story with us, Morlock. Tell us more about your business.

The accident that sent me to prison inspired me to pursue this business. My friend Ryan, who passed away in the accident, was trying to help me build this, and he paid for his association with me with his life. The fact that I survived the car accident reflected as a second chance for me, and I’m not going to waste it. The most exciting thing happening in my business right now is seeing how many people are inspired to collaborate and build something amazing together. How many skilled, talented individuals have converged in one spot... I’ve never seen anything like this in my life. It’s amazing!

Since working with the SBDC, what business milestones have you achieved? How has your business changed?

Brandon Morlock and Glenn DahlWe secured an investor, financing, and a guarantee on the lease of our new building. I’ve also stopped panicking about whether or not we’d be able to attain certain goals, such as getting our new space. I have different things to panic about now! Lastly, I feel that we deal with problems and challenges in a more organized fashion. We focus more on the present and our goals for the future, while using our past mistakes as guidance and learning opportunities.

Pictured: Founder Brandon Morlock (left) and business partner Glenn Dahl (right)

What's going on in your business now? 

On September 24th, we celebrated the grand opening of Past Lives’ new maker-space,
which included a designer showcase, an art gallery with pieces contributed by our
members, space tours throughout the day, and live music. The grand opening coincided
with my “gate day,” which was the day I was released from prison two years ago. To others thinking of working with the SBDC, I'd say: Build a very large team of mentors; the right ones will stick around.

Want to learn more about how the PCC SBDC can help you start or grow your business?

Start here.


SBA logoBusiness-Oregon-logoPrograms 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 sbdc@pcc.edu, 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.

The Oregon Small Business Development Center Portland Community College has  helped thousands of businesses over the past 40 years. We combine one-on-one  advising with programs taught by business experts, giving our clients the  resources they need to grow their businesses. We’ve celebrated many successes  with our clients. We'd love to celebrate your success. 

Topics: Small Business, Business Profiles, Business, Starting a Business, Growing a Business, Capital Access Team

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