Billy Taylor and Brook Harvey-Taylor, the husband-and-wife founders of Portland, Oregon-based vegan beauty retailer Pacifica, were named National Small Business Persons of the Year at the Small Business Administration's National Small Business Week awards ceremony in Washington, D.C. on Friday.

Scents and fragrances were always a passion for Brook Harvey-Taylor, who moved from Montana to Eugene, Oregon in the early 1990s to study aromatherapy. There, she met Billy Taylor, a photographer and filmmaker for the Discovery Channel and National Geographic, whom she would later marry. After a long drive home from a surfing trip, the two conceived the idea for Pacifica--a 100 percent vegan, gluten-free, and cruelty-free fragrance company.

In 1997, the couple decided to use some of the scents in environmentally-friendly candles. By 2008, Pacifica had surpassed $12 million in revenue, but the Taylors found they needed to secure more financing and reposition the Pacifica brand in order to sustain the business. With an infusion of capital procured with the SBA's assistance, they pivoted from selling only home fragrances and candles to offering a wide variety of products including beauty supplies and perfume. Over the five-year period ending in 2014, the company raked in $24 million in revenue and grew to 110 employees.

The SBA also honored two runners-up during the ceremony. Anita's Mexican Food Corp., a California-based wholesale food manufacturer, was the first runner-up. The family-run company, which makes about 1.5 million tortillas per year in its East Los Angeles plant, has grown its revenue by more than 100 percent over the last three years. 

The second runner-up honored was Jeni Merrill, the founder of Merrill, Inc., a Cheyenne, Wyoming-based general contracting company that has grown its revenue from $1.8 million in 2007 to $13.8 million in 2013. 

The Small Business Administration chose the National Small Business Persons of the Year and runners-up from among the award winners from each U.S. state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and Guam. The SBA's annual award, which has been given each year since 1963, recognizes how entrepreneurs and small business owners positively impact their state or territory.

Published on: May 16, 2014