As a small business owner, Rodney Anderson always had a strong commitment to the community. He started Earth Beauty Supply in Waterloo 18 years ago to the fill the void of personal care products for the black community. The business quickly established a loyal following, with customers driving from as far away as Rochester, Minn.
Known for its wide variety of products and outstanding customer service, the retail business consistently grew over the years and Anderson decided to take the next step and invest in the redevelopment of Waterloo’s East Side within an Opportunity Zone. He financed the development of a 20,000 square-foot shopping plaza with an SBA 504 loan through Blackhawk Economic Development Corporation.
Today the plaza includes an expanded Earth Beauty Supply, along with Anderson’s second business, 2 Scoops Ice Cream Shop, and a local Mexican restaurant. The beauty supply business now features thousands of hair care, skin care and other personal care products for customers of all genders and nationalities, including several hundred varieties of wigs and weaves for women. The business is also an important resource for many Iowa salons and barber shops that rely on Earth Beauty Supply for their local business needs.
Anderson scored yet again with his second business, 2 Scoops Ice Cream, knowing that customers always want a second scoop. The neighboring business is popular among his Earth Beauty Supply customers and locals in the East Side community. Its homemade treats include Superman ice cream, a huge hit with the kids, and the adult preferred This Jus Got Serious flavor.
The businesses are a family affair with Anderson’s son and daughter-in-law managing Earth Beauty Supply and 2 Scoops Ice Cream Shop, respectively. The COVID-19 pandemic impacted their families and employees especially hard due to mandated business closures. Thanks to SBA-backed PPP loans through Farmers State Bank in Waterloo, the businesses were able to cover the payroll of their six employees, along with utilities and other expenses. Anderson also benefited from SBA’s Debt Relief Program that makes six months of payments on his existing SBA loan.
As Iowa begins to recover from the COVID pandemic, entrepreneurs like Rodney Anderson are getting back to business meeting their customers’ needs. More importantly, the recovery keeps the entrepreneurial dream alive in Waterloo’s East Side as Anderson partners with other black entrepreneurs to start and expand local small businesses and works on his next project – opening the All in Grocers store in a local food desert. “This Jus Got Serious” in Waterloo.