After months of anticipation, Kitsap Bank recently announced the prizes for this year’s edition of the annual edg3 FUND Awards, a small-business competition the bank launched in 2014.
COVID-19 response and perseverance were two significant themes in this year’s selection process.
During a virtual ceremony on YouTube, the grand prize of $25,000 was awarded to the business deemed by judges to have best demonstrated a commitment to the triple bottom line business model — contributing to a community economically, socially, and environmentally. It was given to Campfire Coffee of Tacoma. Campfire also won the $5,000 Public Favorite Award for receiving the highest number of public votes.
Quincy Henry, who co-founded Campfire Coffee with his wife, Whitni, in 2019 after successfully launching a GoFundMe that May, said he and his wife were shocked when they discovered they had won two prizes.
“We did really good on social media, so we were kind of hoping to win that one,” Henry said of the Public Favorite Award. “(But we were thinking), ‘They’re not gonna let us win two awards’ — and then (Kitsap Bank) called us for the grand prize win. That was just a shock.” Henry said that with the $30,000, he and Whitni plan to increase Campfire Coffee’s capacity, either by building a new roaster or signing a lease for a larger supplemental location.
The Henrys expanded from an online-exclusive selling platform to a brick-and-mortar coffee shop in downtown Tacoma in August 2020, and since have partnered with local, youth-oriented outdoor-education nonprofits. Henry voiced an appreciation for the community’s support, noting that it had not only stood behind Campfire Coffee to help it win the Public Favorite Award but also in helping the business succeed in the first place.
“We endured a lot just to get open,” Henry said. “The community has rallied behind us, and it’s just been awesome to be a part of this community. I don’t think there’s a community like this.” Port Angeles’ Amma’s Umma received the $5,000 #causegood Community edg3 Award, given to a business deemed “most committed to making a difference in its community.”
Chelsea Dutta, founder of the lifestyle boutique, said she was “incredibly thankful” not only for Kitsap Bank but also for the opportunity to participate in the competition in general.
“We learned so much and have been inspired to seek more grants for our purpose-driven business,” Dutta said.
Since its launch, the boutique has made it a point to curate ethically sourced products from around the world. Fifty percent of its profits are donated to domestic adoption projects in India — something close to Dutta’s heart after learning, while spending time in the country, that many children living in orphanages have a family but have parents who have limited access to a living wage.
Dutta said the $5,000 is going to help keep her team on payroll “as we do everything we can to (get) up on online sales to get us through summer 2021.”
Poulsbo’s Sylling’s Elderberry won the new $10,000 Innovation Award, which goes to a company that most shows creativity and resilience.
“It took a second for it to set in that we won the Innovation Award,” recalled Lindsey Sylling, who co-founded Sylling’s Elderberry with her husband, Nate, in 2018. “The finalists each had their own unique qualities, and it was an honor just to be alongside them. So when we heard our name, we looked at each other in shock. It was a really proud moment for us, that we got so far in such a short amount of time.”
In response to COVID-19 limitations, the Syllings, who specialize in elderberry-syrup production, created a doorstep drop-off service, as well as DoIt-Yourself brewing kits for customers who have dietary restrictions, want to use an alternative sweetener, or simply prefer making their own syrup.
Sylling said that right now, a new facility for the business is mid-build. The funds from the award will go toward the cost of further construction and scaling the 1,800-square-foot building.
“We are just weeks away from being operational,” she said in late November.
Bremerton’s STREET|EATS, Port Townsend’s Camp N Car, University Place’s Aquagga Inc., Sumner’s Five12 Apparel LLC, and Port Orchard’s Unity Skate Shop rounded out the rest of the finalists. This year, Kitsap Bank awarded $1,000 to every finalist who had not received one of the major awards.
“We are gratified that so many quality companies participated in edg3 FUND,” said Tony George, Kitsap Bank’s president and chief operating officer. “We want to congratulate them all for the contributions they are making to their industries and communities, especially during this challenging year for many small businesses.”