Every small business has a story. From the conception of an idea, to the struggle to find lending, to the joy of a first sale, the path for small business owners is rarely smooth.

That’s why, to celebrate Small Business Saturday, we’re highlighting several of the thousands of small business owners in our communities who we work with every day.

As Chicago’s Bank for Business® and Wisconsin’s Bank for Business®, Wintrust is proud to support small businesses in our communities. After all, as a financial institution that began with one community bank in 1991, we understand what it takes to build a business in this area. And, we’re proud to play a small role in helping others achieve their dream.

During this holiday season and every season, we hope you not only support your local small businesses with your dollars, but, like us, are inspired by their stories.

From home baking to small business owner: Sophie Evanoff and Vanille Patisserie

Growing up, Sophie Evanoff’s love of pastries was about more than a simple sweet tooth. It was about spending time in the kitchen with her mother and grandmothers baking for family gatherings and church events.

Those hours Evanoff spent in the kitchen created more than lifelong memories. They also represented the beginning of a successful career that would eventually lead her to Vanille Patisserie, which specializes in French pastries, desserts, and cakes, in 2011.

When Evanoff took over Vanille Patisserie, it had two locations. Now, Vanille Patisserie can also be found in Hyde Park, where she also banks with Hyde Park Bank. Read more >

How Verlissa Schrepfer transitioned from employee to owner of Kitchen & Bath Authority

Verlissa Schrepfer has long been a part of the Wheaton community. Her association with Wheaton began nearly 15 years ago when, after working in retail for more than three decades, she switched careers and was about to earn a bachelor’s degree in interior design from Chicago’s Harrington College of Design.

Needing on-the-job training to finish her degree, one of Schrepfer’s instructors got her a job at Kitchen & Bath Authority (K&BA), a full-service home renovation and remodeling company in Wheaton that specializes in design solutions and installation services. It was a fit, and Schrepfer has been at the company ever since.

Schrepfer’s roll at K&BA greatly shifted in February, when she purchased the company from her former employer. The process wasn’t quick, however, so she turned to Glen Ellyn Bank & Trust for help. Read more >

Hermila Solano Diaz refuses to give up, achieves dream of opening her own beauty academy

Hermila Solano Diaz was ready to take the next step in her cosmetology career.

After getting her cosmetology license and working for others, Diaz decided to branch out and open her own cosmetology academy. She knew it wouldn’t be easy, even Diaz couldn’t have anticipated just how difficult it would be.

Diaz struggled with financing and couldn’t find lending. She couldn’t find a suitable location for her dream business. And, even Diaz’s children encouraged her to do something else.

Nevertheless, she kept going, confident not only in her ability to teach, but also believing that what’s meant to be will find a way. Read more >

If you’re a business owner looking for a bank that knows this area and understands what it takes to grow a business here, we’d love to hear from you. Click here to learn more about our business solutions, or find a Wintrust Community Bank near you.