Winner: Ana Apple, 2014

In 2014, Ana Apple was selected as the grand prize winner of the Calling All Dreamers business competition from a field of 33 contestants.

We caught up with first-time entrepreneur Ana Manzano, the owner of Ana Apple, to learn how the competition helped her jumpstart her business.

Ana Manzano, owner of Ana Apple

Ana Manzano, owner of Ana Apple


Why did you enter the Calling All Dreamers competition?

I’ve had the desire to pursue my bigger brand vision for a few years now, but knew it would take a significant investment of time, capital and courage. Calling All Dreamers was, at the core, the catalyst for finally dedicating the attention to those ideas that they deserved. In all honesty, I approached the competition process with the outlook of gaining heaps more business experience at every round. I ended up with a solid business plan, presented my ideas to panels of experts and shared my vision with the public; I equate it to an accelerated course in entrepreneurship.

What was the most surprising aspect of winning this competition?
I’m completely in awe of how much support I’ve received from the Sacramento community and beyond. From working with the sponsors to fellow business owners who have shared advice to the dozens of people across the globe that contributed to and shared our crowd-funding campaigns, everyone has been incredibly generous in cheering my team and I on to the finish line.

How has made a difference for your business?
Overall, Ana Apple has gone through a rapid growth spurt over the last year. In anticipation of our store opening and launch of the new workshop model, I’ve built a strong, passionate team, diligently created systems for efficiency, and greatly expanded the collection. I’ve been able to embrace the CEO role and lead my company with confidence and enthusiasm.

What can we expect from the Ana Apple brand, now that you have your own storefront?
We finally have a place to put roots down and deliver more than we’ve been able to online, in a temporary event setting or on the shelves of other retailers. Not only will we be showcasing the growing Ana Apple product line, but proudly featuring a handful of other California-made products for children of all ages that share our elements of positivity and whimsy. There are several surprises up our sleeves and it’s going to be fun unleashing them to our valued guests!

What advice can you give someone who is thinking about entering the calling all dreamers competition this year?
First of all, congratulations on putting your business ideas out there! Get crystal clear about WHY you want to open your own space. How will it enhance the character of downtown Sacramento? Focus equally on the strategic details (financial projections, market research) as well as communicating your passion for bringing this project to life.

Why is it important to dream when you are a business owner?
I’m a person that just can’t sit still. There’s always something more to do, someone else to serve. Dreaming keeps your business evolving and pushes you to think beyond the here and now. Taking action on those dreams, even baby steps, is the real key.

Want to learn more about Ana’s path as an entrepreneur? Ana was recently featured on the Creating Your Own Path podcast. Listen to the show