From Start-Up to Success: New Businesses Show Lasting Impact

It is always satisfying to reflect on the amazing growth of our 2016 start-up businesses. They are reporting new jobs, significant buildouts, and a growing impact on the local economy. We are proud to release updates on the progress and accomplishments of our 2016 entrepreneurs.

Ula Tortilla, Make Waynesboro, and the Faded Poppy were all part of a cohort of 2016 businesses that were vetted through a panel of local judges. While two-dozen entrepreneurs proposed ideas and received access to business training opportunities, these three businesses collectively received more than $21,000 in start-up grant awards. Looking back, their growth has been swift, and the entrepreneurs behind their successes continue to progress and develop:

Ula Tortilla

Ila Albert collects the baked tortillas as Craig Green gets ready to load dough into the tortilla maker at Ula Tortilla in Waynesboro. Photo by Norm Shafer.

Ula Tortilla’s founders, Stephanie and James, report that they searched far and wide for the perfect tortilla before founding Ula Tortilla. Today, they make local tortillas using organic, non-GMO corn and an ancient process called nixtamalization to produce more nutritious and flavorful products.

Ula Tortilla directed the majority of their Grow Waynesboro grant funds to complete a build-out at the Mill at South River, utilizing Waynesboro’s strong heritage of manufacturing and open-floor industrial space for their value-added food processing techniques. In addition to opening their doors and beginning to process, package, and distribute in Waynesboro, they received a 2016 Virginia Living Award for one of the best “Made in Virginia” products in the food category.

Stephanie Murray and James Price owners of Ula Tortilla in Waynesboro. Photo by Norm Shafer.


Make Waynesboro

Jake Johnson catches reconstituted clay from a machine that was bought with the money he got from a grant from Grow Waynesboro. Photo by Norm Shafer.

Make Waynesboro has joined Ula Tortilla at the Mill at South River, likewise utilizing historic manufacturing space to fuel a renaissance in local light- and artisan-manufacturing. Specializing in pottery and ceramics, they are installing kilns, pottery wheels, a clay trap, and a classroom studio.

In addition to coordinating with clay artists in the region to teach classes, its owner Jake Johnson has also partnered with the Shenandoah Valley Art Center to obtain retail space for Make Waynesboro products, demonstrating the power of entrepreneurial collaboration in growing and sustaining vibrant local economies. Like Ula, Make Waynesboro won a 2016 Virginia Living “Made in Virginia” award, this time as the category winner in Design. They also won the first-place award for pottery in the Shenandoah Valley Art Center’s Fall Foliage Festival Art Show.

Jake Johnson at his ceramic studio in Waynesboro. Photo by Norm Shafer.


 The Faded Poppy

Sara Kite, Creative Director of The Faded Poppy in her Rosser Avenue studio. Photo by Norm Shafer.

The Faded Poppy supplies flowers, planning, and day-of coordination services to weddings around the region. This past August, they celebrated their own big day when they opened their new storefront in the 220 Rosser Ave studios.

Receiving significant regional media coverage from both WHSV and NBC/Channel 29, they were also featured on wedding blogs including Style Me Pretty, Glamour & Grace, Chic Vintage Bride, Virginia Bride Magazine, and more. They received the Virginia Living award for the Best Event Planner of 2016, along with the 2017 Couple’s Choice Award from Wedding Wire.

Sara Kite, Creative Director of The Faded Poppy has a consultation with Kathy Hagy, a mother of the bride in Waynesboro. Photo by Norm Shafer.


The diversity, success, and public acclaim of or 2016 entrepreneurs is both exciting and promising. Their track record demonstrates how efforts to find, fund, cultivate, and grow the impacts of local entrepreneurs can be successful. We extend our heartfelt congratulations to them, and look forward to continued energy as we all work to Grow the Waynesboro economy.

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