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Savage Designs awarded top small business in the county

Chamber to award locals at 100th anniversary event

Savage Designs owner Shannon Imbronone was the recipient of this year's Small Business of the Year award presented by the San Benito County Chamber of Commerce. (Photo by Juan Reyes)

Shannon Imbronone started designing custom made apparel in her own garage a little more than five years ago. 

The business slowly started picking up and by the time she knew it, Savage Designs needed a bigger spot and moved to their current location at 1700 Lana Way in 2018. 

Since then, they’ve been the go-to spot when it comes to sporting someone’s name brand or school spirit on a banner, hoodie sweatshirt, sticker, hat and sometimes even a pair of spandex.  

Plus, the 51-year old San Benito County native has been there when the community needed her the most—whether it’s selling apparel to San Benito High slightly above cost or donating a raffle prize. 

“We grew up here, this is our hometown, this is where we lived most of our lives and I want to see our community do better,” she said. “I want to see everyone improve.”

For that, she was awarded the Small Business of the Year by the San Benito County Chamber of Commerce. 

The award is part of the Centennial Celebration that will take place Sept. 12 at Leal Vineyards, 300 Maranatha Dr., to celebrate 100 years of service in the county. 

The chamber and its members will be honoring several businesses and individuals for impacting the community in a dynamic way.

Mickie Solorio-Luna is recognized as Woman of the Year and Jim Gillio, former San Benito County Supervisor, was named Man of the Year. 

The Lifetime Achievement Award honorees will go to Graniterock, McKinnon Lumber and Tiffany Ford.

“It’s just really cool to see these really impactful businesses with such deep roots and amazing legacy in San Benito County to be celebrated,” Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Michelle Leonard said.  

Other recipients include Teknova for Large Business of the Year, Pinnacles Recreation Co. for Green Business of the Year, Enterprise Academy of Martial Arts for Service Business of the Year, Calavera Coffee for Entrepreneur Business of the Year, B&R Farms for Agriculture Business of the Year and Community FoodBank for San Benito County for Non-profit of the Year.

Leonard said in the past year alone they’ve seen small businesses step to the forefront in being a leader for their employees and securing jobs for families that were struggling.

“We’re just really excited to be able to celebrate everybody,” she said.

The event will feature an awards ceremony, music, plated dinner, custom desserts, silent auction and raffle, signature drinks and a centennial champagne toast.  

It will also be the largest fundraiser for their scholarship program, which helped 16 youngsters this past year.  

Leonard said she’s thrilled to be able to have the outdoor event despite some hesitation.

She mentioned that they were cautious about scheduling an event because they want to be sure a good amount of prominent business people and elected officials will attend. 

“It would’ve been super sad if we weren’t able to have our Centennial Celebration because of Covid,” she said. “Being able to have it in itself is definitely something to celebrate.” 

The way the nomination process works is that all community members are invited to submit nominations to the chamber of commerce. Then the board of directors reviews all of the applications.

Leonard said they take note of businesses that are innovative, thoughtful and overcoming obstacles. She added that they also look for businesses that continuously invest and are involved in the community. 

One of the things that stood out about Savage Designs was, as a family owned business, they kept operating as best they could while supporting other businesses that rely on them. 

“There is this amazing sense of local support and hospitality with Savage Designs when you work with them as a customer or engage with them as a community member,” she said.

Imbronone used to work in apparel manufacturing in San Jose and traveled a lot for the job. She eventually got tired of traveling but she still liked what she was doing. 

“So, I just quit my job and I decided it was going to be a part-time thing,” she said. “It ended up being beyond full time.” 

Now she runs the shop with her husband, Matt, who quit his job as a heavy equipment mechanic for 28 years. She handles most of the assembly and orders, while he designs logos using state-of-art laser printers and software.

“I didn’t think it was going to be as big as it was. I thought it would just be something small I can do to keep money coming in and within months it grew,” she said. 

Within three months she went from a section in the garage to half of it in less than a year.

The next goal for Imbronone is to open up a 10,000 square foot facility to have more laser printers and equipment to custom make even more unique items. 

“Ultimately I’d like to buy a piece of property,” she said.