The SCORE Lancaster-Lebanon office gets dozens of requests every week from individuals who are seeking a mentor for a new business that they are in the process of forming. But we can honestly say that Bethany Smith was the first one that had a chipmunk as a business partner. Not just any chipmunk either, Bethany’s partner was named Pearl and she was the principle subject and model for Just Because, a line of greeting cards with a cause.
Bethany launched Just Because on social media as the perfect platform to showcase the ever-growing catalog of fanciful images of Pearl in all manner of settings.
“Just Because marries my life-long love of little critters, my new-found joy of photography and my passion for social justice.”
~Bethany Smith, founder of Just Because
The greeting cards that result from these images show Pearl at work, at play, at teatime, on a motorcycle, among other poses. The settings seem limitless given Bethany’s fond affection for her tiny partner and her boundless imagination. Pearl and her stories have become so popular on social media that Bethany no longer has to hunt for the miniature treasure used as props in the chipmunk photos. She now finds them left many mornings as tiny offerings on her doorstep, Just Because will market these greeting cards with a portion of the profits benefiting a variety social justice causes. They include: Hope International, International Justice Mission, Preemptive Love, and Samaritan Safe Places.
SCORE mentor Jim Frey has been working with Bethany now since January of 2018. He has been delighted to support her efforts to launch this Just Because endeavor and pleasantly surprised at how engaged he has become in the process.
“In these past months working with Just Because we have set out to first test the concept to ensure there is a market for her business model. We also used the Business Model Canvass to develop and refine her business plan, strategies. and delineate strategic partners for success. We worked on product development with a reliable high-quality printer with reasonable costs. All of the usual strategies that a mentor would employ to support a new client. But one of the benefits of becoming a SCORE volunteer mentor is the very fact of getting to meet and know someone like Bethany Smith and to become invested in her success. The richest reward by far is not only to have an exciting new client but to make a real friend in the process.”
~Jim Frey, SCORE Lancaster-Lebanon volunteer mentor
Bethany and Jim continue the process of laying the groundwork for the new venture that is Just Because and she looks back on her decision to seek the guidance of a SCORE mentor as one of the first steps she took on this journey.
“Without my SCORE mentor, I would not have gotten Just Because off the ground. After working 35 years in the not-for-profit world, I knew I was ready for a change, and it took encouragement from a whole lot of people to even consider starting a small business. Once I finally crossed that threshold, two friends shared their experiences with SCORE mentors, and I knew that was the best possible first step that I could take. I'm still working my ‘regular job’, so Just Because is moving along slowly - but steadily, thanks to Jim's guidance and direction. “
~ Bethany Smith, founder of Just Because
Bethany is in a strong partnership with her SCORE mentor and believes that others entertaining the dream of owning their own small business or even already established in one would benefit from making the same call.
“Call today and make an appointment, you have nothing to lose and so much to gain. Talk with Jeanne and share your needs and preferences regarding a possible mentor. I asked her in our first conversation to please keep in mind that my business partner is a chipmunk when assigning me a mentor, and her choice was a perfect fit for me. There is so much collective experience to tap into at SCORE... not only has my mentor provided the basic business information that I needed, made great suggestions, asked helpful questions and connected me with other experienced professionals, but he also made sure that I was aware of SCORE workshops and learning opportunities that he knew would be beneficial. “
~Bethany Smith, founder of Just Because