SCORE, mentors to America’s small businesses, recently announced the winners of The American Small Business Championship, a program supported by Sam’s Club that provides expert training, resources and networking opportunities to small business owners. A total of 102 winners from 47 states were chosen based on written, video and photo entries that detailed the sacrifices each has made to achieve small business success. Winners were determined by online voting and a panel of judges comprised of small business experts.

Creative Cottage in Merrimack won the award for New Hampshire. Thanks to a $700,000 grant from Sam’s Club, Champions will each receive a $1,000 Sam's Club gift card, an all-expense-paid trip to one of five SCORE training events, SCORE mentoring for one year, and promotion throughout the year to showcase each Champion’s story.

Creative Cottage reproduces the world around us in miniature using polymer clay and other natural materials. Founder, Michelle Landry notes, “I've been creating my own miniature worlds as long as I can remember. Growing up, I spent hours in the woods near my rural home in Connecticut looking for gnomes and critters. That wonder and curiosity has stayed with me my whole life and is reflected in my artwork, gardening, photography and attention to detail.”

Landry applied to SCORE in 2014 for mentoring to assist in growing the business. She was matched with mentor Ron Weiss, a member of SCORE’s Merrimack Valley Chapter. According to Landry, “Ron was instrumental in helping me focus on the business side as opposed to the creative side of Creative Cottage. He gave me homework, kept me on track and helped me focus my time on things that needed doing to attain my goals.”

The partnership has reaped results in that Landry has seen month-over-month increases in revenue after their initial sessions. And mentoring continues on a less frequent basis, with Ron checking in periodically and handing out homework assignments when necessary.

For more information about how SCORE can assist small businesses grow and help grow ideas into businesses, go to www.merrimackvalley.score.org. For information on Creative Cottage and its range of miniatures, visit creativecottagenh.com.