Like lots of moms, Anji Cozart was torn between the desire to contribute to the household income and the desire to stay home to care for her young children. So in 2000, while Anji's husband, Bill, worked full time, she started a small business that she could run from home. Her vision for the business was simple: offer beautiful, high-quality gift baskets at an affordable price. She called the business Art of Appreciation and built it from scratch, putting each basket together herself and selling them at a few local shops in Seattle. For the first several years the baskets sold slowly and steadily, but she didn't know how to get "Mom's little business" to really take off. "My boys, along with my husband, were my greatest cheerleaders through those years. When orders weren't coming in, they were always there saying 'You can do it Mom' followed by 'How can we help?'"
Finally, in late 2004, Anji had her first breakthrough. A representative from Amazon noticed Anji's unique and gorgeous gift baskets and asked if she'd like to try selling them online through another local retailer: Amazon.com. She began offering her gift baskets on the site, and by the end of 2005 her sales had doubled. Anji even had to hire four staff to keep up with orders. In 2006 sales doubled again, and by 2007 Art of Appreciation was so successful that Anji's husband decided to quit his job to help her out full time. In 2009, with nine employees, the company finally moved out of the house and into its own warehouse in her hometown of Arlington, WA.
For Anji, the best part of her success has been the ability to run her business according to her "family first" philosophy. "Not only did I have the opportunity to spend those precious years with my children when they were young, but now that our business has grown, we make sure to provide a family-first workplace and offer flexible schedules for our crew. In today's world, it's increasingly difficult to find a job, any job, for a lot of people. We can provide an ideal solution for many moms, so they can be home when their children come home from school. We also work around college students' schedules, so they continue to strive towards their educational and future goals."
Job creation in the community is something we are very proud about, especially in the down economy!
"Today, our gift basket company employs 40 to 60 full- and part-time employees, depending on the gift-giving season," says Anji. "We've grown from a small loft to 40,000 square feet of warehouse space, with a steady sales growth that significantly increases each year." Not only has Anji's own family reaped the financial benefits of her "little business," but Art of Appreciation has also helped the local economy. "Job creation in the community is something we are very proud about, especially in the down economy!"
"I'm convinced that small businesses like ours are where most new jobs will come from as the country recovers," continues Anji, "and Amazon helped us reach the customers we needed to really get going. Because of that open door they gave us, we were able to grow and keep hiring during one of the hardest economic times in recent history. All we needed was that opportunity. We wouldn't be where we are today without them."
Art of Appreciation is one of thousands of small businesses thriving because of Amazon customers, visit Art of Appreciation's store on Amazon.