Upon the approval of an Accion Texas Inc. loan, Mark treated his four sons to a company dinner at Denny’s to celebrate. Through two decades, Mark worked various jobs to support his family. But when he and his wife divorced 12 years ago, he had to work harder as he became a single father.
“One day I was sitting down and I noticed for 20 years, I was working so much and I never made more than $20,000 a year,” he said. “I’ve always done side jobs and one day I was thinking about how to make more money.” That’s when his son suggested entering the music industry.
SolFear Records and Productions of McAllen, Texas, is a record label targeting musicians looking to sign a contract and produce music. In its two years of business, Mark and two of his sons have worked out of Mark’s bedroom with at least 80 bands and created shows to raise awareness of McAllen’s talents.
Mark recalls: “My son, who we call Fuby, said, ‘You’re not doing one thing you love: your music. You should be around what you love, before you think about what you make.’”
Thereafter, Mark opened a recording studio in his home. “I had the magic wand in my hand, which was my guitar and my talent, and honestly, everything fell in place. I felt accomplished,” he said. “We don’t just record; we copyright every song. Our label is trademarked so we don’t have to worry about anything; we protect your music.”
Mark began his musical journey when he was nine. His grandfather noticed Mark’s interest and handed the guitar to him, and since then, guitar playing has been his passion.
When first seeing various TV commercials and web ads, Mark was skeptical about Accion because he has a negative relationship with banks. But when he learned Accion is a non-profit organization, he decided to apply for a loan. Mark said the loan helped him gain financial security. “I know how to make the loan work for us,” he said. As a natural hard worker, Mark said, “When you can’t do it yourself, you have to lean on something, and this Accion loan is what I have to lean on.”
Uncomfortable with investing large amounts of what little he could spare, he said, “Accion is helping me get past those fears of risk.”
“Accion has helped me beat my two-year business goal,” he said.
Mark will use the loan for his grand opening. He purchased advertisement, including banners, food, and paid for live music to raise community awareness about the studio. The rest of his loan will go towards working capital. “Honestly, now that we have this, I expect my business to increase 35 percent. People felt uncomfortable in our home. It’s going to help a lot. And we also purchased a coffee pot and microwave for the longer nights.”
“As far as money goes, I feel I make more than I ever would as an employee,” Mark said. “Sometimes I still can’t believe it.”
Mark wants the business to be known as the SolFear Train. He said, “Those who want to be a part of the SolFear Train, it doesn’t mean you’re a musician, just that you’re a music lover, supporter, or one who uses music as a tool in life. As we move forward, you’ll learn more about our label through news feeds. But like a train, we only move forward.”
LiftFund. (www.liftfund.com) is an award-winning nonprofit organization (previously known as Accion Texas) with a mission to provide credit and loans to small and start-up businesses that have limited or no access to credit from commercial sources. Established in 1994 in San Antonio, LiftFund has helped Texas and Louisiana entrepreneurs strengthen their businesses, stabilize and increase their incomes, create employment, and contribute to the economic revitalization of their communities. Learn more at www.liftfund.com.