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Lori Miller, Interior Designer

New York City Interior Designer Refinances Predatory Loans with CDFI Financing

Financial and Social Impact

  • Refinanced $68,000 of unaffordable business debt

July 10, 2019

From dedicated mental health professional to award-winning interior designer, Lori Miller understands firsthand that it’s never too late to pursue your passion. Initially starting out with a master’s degree in counseling, Lori covered the full spectrum of the mental health profession before rediscovering her childhood love for architecture and design. In 2000, her pursuit of this passion eventually led her to open LGC Interior Designs, a full-service interior design firm that serves residential and commercial clientele throughout the New York City metropolitan area.  

When Lori needed financing to expand from a home-based business to a business with an established office space, she sought out a loan through traditional financing.  Lori was denied a loan through her bank after unsuccessfully searching for affordable and trustworthy financing, and as a result, turned to predatory lenders for funding.  

In 2018, with high-cost debt repayments and a business still in need of expansion, Lori was introduced to a broker at Rodino Associates who pointed her in the direction of Excelsior Growth Fund (EGF), where EGF Assistant Vice President Aissatou Bah met with Lori and helped her prepare everything she needed for an EGF SmartLoan™.  

With her $90,000 EGF loan, which closed in August 2018, Lori was able to refinance her existing business debt of $68,000 and lower her high-cost, monthly debt repayments from two predatory loans. In addition, Lori used her EGF loan to rent a new office space.

“The overall process of working with EGF was so easy…The financial side of running a business is not my expertise, but EGF makes it easy and fast to apply. Really, if I can do it, anybody can do it,” Lori shared. 

In addition to financing, EGF also provided technical assistance to Lori. Two of the biggest challenges Lori faced while running her business were managing her finances and her schedule. EGF connected Lori free of charge to their Quickbooks consultant, who worked with Lori on a weekly basis. Through the sessions, Lori learned how to use QuickBooks and efficiently track her time so she could charge her clients accordingly. 

Lori’s story embodies EGF’s mission. Like many small business owners, Lori faced barriers in accessing capital. After turning to a predatory lender for financing, Lori struggled to meet her business goals. That is, until she found EGF, who provided the affordable, flexible, transparent funding she needed to refinance her existing debt, as well as the extensive advisory services she needed to help further grow her business.