Sugar Twist Bakery is an innovative, upscale bakery in Bakersfield, California. Located on the corner of a busy intersection, Sugar Twist is full service, offering a breakfast and lunch menu.

In addition to all of that deliciousness, Sugar Twist handles large company orders as well as custom cakes for special occasions. The clientele is as diverse as the donut flavors. Customers include people on their way to work, families who come in for a treat as well as corporations seeking special sweets.

Sugar Twist first opened its doors in 2011 with a 1,230 square foot facility and expanded to a 2,460 square foot location two years later.  The bakery is in its fourth year of operations with a second 2,400 square foot shop at another high traffic intersection.

Co-owner Ariya Burana secured an SBA loan from SmartBiz in 2016 to expand her business. We recently caught up with the busy professional and learned more about her path to small business ownership. “My sister and my mom wanted to have a donut shop – I partnered up with them back in 2003 and we’ve more than doubled our space since then. I was never interested in the bakery business, it just happened to be a good opportunity.”

Burana is a true multitasker. In addition to owning the bakery, she has a full-time career as a software developer. She spends 40 hours a week developing software and at least 20 hours a week on Sugar Twist business.

When asked about the best part of her entrepreneurial journey she says, “It’s being your own boss. I understand the customer’s needs and can work hard to satisfy those needs. I define my own path.”

What’s the hardest part of being a small business owner? “Everything,” she answers with a laugh. “For me personally and my unique situation, time management is the hardest.” It’s also challenging for her to juggle family time as she has three children ages 16, 12 and 1.

When it came time to secure funding, Burana knew that an SBA loan was the best bet for her business, offering long terms and low rates. The family used personal money to start up the business; the SmartBiz SBA loan is the first outside money acquired to grow Sugar Twist.

She first worked with a local bank. However, Burana didn’t have a good experience. “I tried to get funding locally at two banks and we were rejected. The third bank we tried approved us but the process took too long. It was a waiting game.”

She came across SmartBiz online on the financial site NerdWallet. While reviewing a comparison chart, SmartBiz popped up. “To be completely honest, when I first discovered SmartBiz Loans, I was a little skeptical and thought SmartBiz was going to turn out to be "just another gimmick," Burana says. “They are not a gimmick,” she writes in a TrustPilot online review. “It’s the real deal.” Burana received a $310,000 SBA loan from SmartBiz. She’ll use the funds to for working capital and to open a new location.

She was very happy with the SmartBiz process and customer support. “It was great, streamlined, easy and fast. Working with a SmartBiz Relationship Manager made everything easier than working with a bank. The cool thing about SmartBiz is how they worked with me when I needed to submit an official updated financial statement. I didn’t have to go back to my CPA. It’s customer service done fast and just plain right.”

In her TrustPilot review, Burana writes, “I'm very happy with their service and work ethics. Michael (SmartBiz Relationship Manager) was always prompt, honest, reliable, helpful, and even responded over weekends and at night. He went above and beyond the call of duty to ensure a smooth transaction with happy customers. Unlike working with your traditional bank, Michael's turnaround time for getting us through each step always put the ball in our court, always.”

In 2016, the bakery is now in its fourth year of operations. The planned expansion of the Sugar Twist Bakery is forecasted to increase revenue by 75%.

So what’s her favorite donut? Without hesitation she answers, “The baconator! It’s a glazed donut with maple frosting and freshly made bacon.” Her bestseller is a pastry cream cheese puff.

Drool, drool! Anyone up for a road trip to Bakersfield?