Pandemic passion project opens the door to starting a successful business


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Cynthia Huhman has always loved crafts and sewing, but owning an embroidery business was never on her radar.

During the global coronavirus pandemic, Cynthia started creating graphic T-shirts as a way to relax while dealing with the stresses of the outside world. And, in January 2021, when a friend approached Cynthia about taking over her business, she thought carefully about the prospect of becoming her own boss.

“Making graphic tees was a creative outlet so I could keep my sanity,” said Cynthia. “A friend was ready to retire and wanted to see someone local purchase her business. She thought that since I was already dabbling in apparel that it would be a good fit for me. She wanted to pass along all the existing client files as well as their logos, and those valuable files would mean nothing to someone who was not going to continue to serve her clientele list.”

Cynthia began working alongside then-owner Deb Bryner to learn more about running the embroidery equipment, and after a few months, she was ready to take over.

“We moved the equipment on Thursday night, Feb. 25,” she said. “Deb worked right up until 5:30 that day, and her shop wasn’t open on Fridays, so the business didn’t even skip a beat.”

On the morning of Monday, March 1, 2021, Cynthia opened her business, Nebraska Pasture Door, outside Merna, Nebraska.

The smooth transition was possible in part due to Cynthia reaching out to the Center for Rural Affairs to help finance her business ownership dreams. She knew about the Center through its social media presence and news stories played on her local radio station.

“I applied for a business loan because I did not have the funds to purchase the business on my own,” she said. “I knew the Center could be a good resource for me.”

Howard White, loan specialist with the Center, helped guide Cynthia through the loan application process.

“Cynthia has the marketing and artistic skills necessary to make her business work,” said Howard. “She had researched the project in detail and had all the answers a lender would ask. She’s been a great client to work with who will be successful in any endeavor she attempts.”

At Nebraska Pasture Door, Cynthia offers customized and personalized apparel including shirts, jackets, and hats, as well as spirit wear and graphic tees. She works on apparel for businesses, schools, organizations, and reunions. Her website showcases boutique apparel purchased from several resources, which she eventually hopes to expand.

Cynthia is excited to see how far her entrepreneurial efforts take her on this journey. She recently joined the Broken Bow Chamber of Commerce and celebrated a ribbon cutting at her business.

“I love being in my hometown, and I’m thankful for the outstanding support I’ve had so far,” Cynthia said.

And, Nebraska Pasture Door has already outgrown its first location. Although Cynthia is the only employee, she hopes to add another person to her staff and move to a larger building better suited for her business.

Cynthia knows the Center will be there to help with expansion whenever she needs assistance.

“The financing [from the Center] let my dream of owning my own business become a reality,” she said. “I’ve been a single parent most of my adult life, so I never imagined that owning my own business would be possible. The staff has been very kind and helpful, and I’m thankful for the opportunity that this loan has given me.”

At a glance

Nebraska Pasture Door
Cynthia Huhman
80428 Road 433, Merna, Nebraska 68856
Hours: Monday through Thursday 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.; Friday and Saturday by appointment