“What if you could triple profits by paying employees more?”

“You cannot tell me that your business model relies on paying people below the poverty line.”

Will Spoon You For Money

A woman opens up the world’s first professional (and platonic) cuddling parlor. It’s in Portland, of course.

How to Make Your Own Shoe Line

In my quest to become MacGyver (the short, Asian female version), I plunged into the shoemaking world a few years ago and took classes in the New York City area. I made some very nice shoes: black leather mules, brown boots for the hubby, summer toe ring sandals for me, and black dress shoes for the hubby again. These really nice dress shoes made me puff up in pride as many Facebook friends liked photos of the finished product—shoes I made with my tired, sore, little hands in a hot, dusty studio in Brooklyn.

A Chat With the Women Who Started ‘Rice Paper Scissors,’ A Vietnamese Restaurant in San Francisco

We’re Valerie and Katie, the founders of Rice Paper Scissors, a Vietnamese restaurant based in San Francisco.

Inside ‘The Scratching Pad,’ a Cat Shelter Run Out of One Man’s Apartment

If you’re a New Yorker with a beating heart, you probably remember the subway kittens that shut down the MTA last summer in the most adorable way possible. If you’re a cat lady like me (which oh praise is now a badge of honor, thanks New York Times), then you might already know Steven Liu, the guy behind the Scratching Pad, who took in the tiny bandits and fostered them through their eventual adoption. In July of last year, Steve found a duplex apartment in Bushwick, moved in with two roommates, and started taking in cats—current total eight.

Making Paper in a Paperless World: An Interview With Pulp and Deckle

Earning a Living as a Floral Designer: An Interview With Ladybird Poppy’s Sarah Tedford

I first heard about Sarah Tedford of Ladybird Poppy when I started dating my husband in late 2008. The two were friends from high school, and he hired her to design a floral arrangement for me when he asked me officially to be his girlfriend. Sarah was just on the verge of starting her own business as a floral designer at the time and now, more than five years later, my husband and I are happily married and Sarah’s business is thriving.

We Bought An Ice Cream Store

Maybe We’ll Soon Have Our Very First Cat Cafe

Back in the fall of 2012, Maggie Hamilton wrote a piece for us about how she felt like she was stuck in a career rut, and that perhaps her dream career would be running some kind of bakery where there were a bunch of cats around to hang out with. Cat cafes are huge in Japan and in some European cities, but food service regulations in the U.S. have made it impossible to have animals around where people consume food. Our American dreams of the cat cafe are constantly being dashed.

Owning an Old-Timey Store is a Dream—Until it Becomes a Nightmare

The Times’s small business blog has begun to document the story of Caroline Scheeler and Joe Vajarsky, a husband and wife team who decided to buy an old-fashioned general store in their small town that had sat vacant for several years and turn it into a new business. They spent a ton of money on gutting and designing the store and now are facing a lot of financial issues.

The Cost of Operating a Hot Dog Cart

You may not think that it could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to operate a hot dog cart, but there you have it.

Messy Man Starts Cleaning Business

DNAinfo has a story about a one-man cleaning service called “Maid Men” which is funny to me because so far the service includes just one man, part-time rapper Chuck Bennet, who says he’s hoping to hire another staffer—likely a woman. “I guess I’d call it Maid Men and Women,” he acknowledges later. Other fun tidbits in the article: Bennet’s mother helps him advertise by making flyers for him, and his cleaning experience includes being part of the staff at the the Hotel Elysee, which was used in the most recent episode of Mad Men. Bennet charges $25 an hour for his services.

Pirate Joe’s: Canada’s Bootleg Trader Joe’s Store

There are no Trader Joe’s stores in Canada, but there is a Pirate Joe’s store. Canadian Michael Hallatt loved Trader Joe’s products so much while he was living in San Francisco that he decided he wanted to buy a bunch of products at regular retail value in the U.S. and resell them in Vancouver. He’s now being sued by Trader Joe’s.

Raising Money to Keep Selling Books

To stay in business, some independent bookstores are using sites like Indiegogo to raise money from regulars and neighborhood locals—as much as $60,000 in some campaigns. It’s really great to see that kind of support for small business owners, though probably not sustainable. The Times story mentions Book Court in Brooklyn as one of the indie bookstores that have managed to thrive and expand, though it doesn’t say how it has done so. It should! Those kinds of stories are always worth sharing.

How Two Friends Turned Their Online Shop Into a Brick and Mortar Store

High school friends Yoko Kumano and Kayoko Akabori started Umami Mart as a food blog in 2007 and now have a brick and mortar store in the San Francisco Bay Area. Here’s how they got to where they are today.