Fairfield, Iowa might seem like just another small town in Middle America that’s surrounded by rolling farmlands and cornfields. But it’s been known as the “Silicorn Valley” because the economy thrives largely on its abundance of entrepreneurs and start-up companies.
20190922SmallTownSpotlight_blog_11.JPGTahmi DeSchepper displays a pair of her handmade, woven metal earrings sold in Amazon stores.Photo by MEG COYLE
Why would entrepreneurs be interested in the middle of Iowa? Some of the creative thinkers are followers of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the leader of the Transcendental Meditation movement, who purchased the campus of a bankrupt college there in 1974 and turned it into Maharishi University of Management.
“It’s always surprising to see what interesting businesses on Amazon are hidden in all the different nooks and crannies around town,” said Tahmi DeSchepper, one of more than a dozen Fairfield business owners who sell their products in Amazon’s stores.
DeSchepper worked the craft show circuit for years before listing her handmade, textile-inspired woven metal and glass jewelry on Amazon Handmade in 2015. “I sent in my first batch of inventory to Fulfillment by Amazon, immediately had sales, and it’s been off to the races ever since.” DeSchepper predicts revenues for her company, Tahmi will be three times higher this year than her last full year of doing craft shows. Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) stores products in Amazon fulfillment centers, where associates pick, pack, ship, and provide customer service.
Jill Taft moved her family and her business to Fairfield in 2018 from New York City. The former fashion model was inspired to develop a line of non-toxic lice elimination and prevention products after her daughter came home with head lice. “I wanted to find a way to provide parents like myself with a safe, effective option to eliminate and prevent head lice.”
20190922SmallTownSpotlight_blog_08.JPGJill Taft and her husband, Joel Roodman, moved from New York City to Fairfield, Iowa to grow their business and raise their family.Photo by MEG COYLE
Taft launched LiceLogic in 2012, and listed her products on Amazon. As demand grew, she launched more lines of eco-friendly products. Logic Products’ success on Amazon meant her husband Joel Roodman could join the company fulltime. No longer tied to New York and craving a quieter, simpler life for their two children, “we decided to take a chance, go on a family adventure, and relocate here,” said Taft. “And we are really happy that we did.”
Logic Products, not too far down the road from Tahmi, is also among more than a dozen small businesses in Fairfield selling in Amazon’s stores and featured on Amazon Storefronts. On average, U.S.-based small- and medium-sized businesses sell more than 4,000 items per minute in Amazon’s stores.
Amazon opened Amazon Storefronts in 2018, a curated destination to shop exclusively from American small and medium-sized businesses like Logic Products and Tahmi. In the U.S., Storefronts has grown to feature over 2.5 million products and deals from roughly 30,000 businesses across a variety of product categories.
Amazon continues to help independent small and medium-sized businesses grow their sales online. The company has released more than 150 tools and services in 2019, which is part of the $15 billion that Amazon is on track to invest this year in the success of selling partners—which are primarily small and medium-sized businesses.
20190922SmallTownSpotlight_blog_19.JPGAndrew Voskov, founder of Tasty Superfoods.Photo by MEG COYLE
Nicholas Denissen, vice president of Small Business at Amazon, runs a team that is focused on the success of small business selling in Amazon’s stores. “Small businesses across America and around the world are both our partners and our customers. They are at the heart of our business and key to our success, which is why we continue to invest billions in the infrastructure, tools and programs, such as Fulfillment by Amazon, Amazon Storefronts, and Amazon Handmade, to help them reach more customers and grow.”
Andrew Voskov credits Amazon’s Subscribe and Save program for helping grow a loyal customer base for his products. Voskov’s company, Tasty Superfoods, sells Ayurvedic coffee and ghee, a variation of clarified butter that’s used as an alternative to cooking oil. “Our small business has been able to prosper and thrive because of Amazon,” said Voskov.
With a business that’s gone from her kitchen sink to a global brand, Taft continues to scale, relying on Amazon services like FBA, Sponsored Products, and Amazon Lending. “Just the simplicity of being able to control our own brand, control our pricing, control our product detail pages,” said Taft. “And we're able to change our product detail pages, reinvent them, enhance them. Often there are new tools that become available to sellers and we always take advantage of those when they come out.”
Logic Products’ headquarters is on Main Street in downtown Fairfield. Taft is grateful to be part of a growing community of entrepreneurs, and to create jobs in her new home town she’s come to love. “Our business has grown year over year significantly. It started just with myself in my house, in my kitchen sink. Now it’s grown to three full-time employees and many part-time employees, and we are continuing to grow. We are really happy to be in a small town, in a small community. And we're really proud that we were able to move our business here.”