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Mystic Knotwork owner named Small Business Person of the Year

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Mystic — The U.S. Small Business Administration has recognized Matt Beaudoin, owner of Mystic Knotwork, as Connecticut's Small Business Person of the Year.

Mark Hayward, interim director of SBA's Connecticut District Office, presented a plaque to Beaudoin on Tuesday morning at the Cottrell Street location of Mystic Knotwork. The location is primarily a workshop, and Mystic Knotwork also has a retail storefront at the corner of East Main and Holmes streets, which opened in 2017.

Connecticut Small Business Development Center adviser Matt Nemeth nominated Beaudoin last fall, after working with him to secure capital funding.

Beaudoin said he learned of the award in March and was originally supposed to be honored this week in Washington, D.C., where he was looking forward to networking. It's currently National Small Business Week, and because of the coronavirus pandemic, the SBA conference is instead being held virtually.

Hayward said Beaudoin "rose to the top" of the applications and met all the criteria: overcoming adversity, giving back to the community and exceeding profits.

One example of giving back to the community, which happened since Beaudoin was selected as the award winner, was donating 10% of website sales in April to the Pawcatuck Neighborhood Center.

"Your business is a staple here in Mystic. We talked to a lot of people," Hayward said. He noted that U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., said his wife ordered Christmas gifts for members of the Senate from Mystic Knotwork.

The business is perhaps best known for its sailor bracelets but also sells coasters, keychains, dog toys, wall hangings and more. Beaudoin's grandfather, Alton Beaudoin, started the family knot shop in 1957 under the name Beaudoin's Rope Locker. Matt Beaudoin left his corporate job in 2008 and relaunched the business as Mystic Knotwork.

In 2018, the Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut named Mystic Knotwork its Small Business of the Year, and Beaudoin received the Connecticut Governor's Award for 2018 Tourism Rising Star.

Beaudoin now employs 14 staff members. With the pandemic, he said Mystic Knotwork has focused more on retail, as the wedding business is down 95% and wholesale business was down, though it's been coming back up. He said the Paycheck Protection Program, a forgivable SBA loan, "saved our skin."

After presenting Beaudoin with his award, SBA representatives went to the Women's Business Development Council's Women's Business Center of Southeastern Connecticut, which was named the Women's Business Center of the Year.

"WBC-SECT has had an impactful record as a leading SBA Women's Business Center, championing the economic equity of women," Project Director Laura Stetler said in a news release. "Since opening its doors in April 2018, WBC-SECT has helped over 1,000 women achieve their dream of launching or scaling their business."

e.moser@theday.com

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