When Angeline Rosing's son, Alfredo, was born, the Weston mom received a cookie bouquet from a well-wisher. Rosing, a pastry chef, was so taken with the gift that she began experimenting with putting together her own.
Over the next few years, as a stay-at-home mom to Alfredo, now 9, and Sebastian, 8, Rosing developed the idea of creating her own gift basket business. "But I wanted to do something different. Other companies offered baskets where you picked out a model," she said. "I wanted to do something with a personal touch, where you could choose and make whatever you wanted."
Rosing opened Expressions Gift Factory, an online gift marketplace with customizable baskets, in the spring of 2010. Here is her story:
The big idea
Expressions Gift Factory assembles customized baskets and ships them all over the United States. Customers can choose themed cookies, candies and stuffed animals or personalized infant onesies and T-shirts and group them as they wish. They can also pick the containers and stuffing. Prices range from $4.50 each for cookies and $3.50 for candies to $27 for large stuffed bears.
A pastry chef who has worked at the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables and Oceana in New York City, Rosing said she has always had a passion for cooking and art. Her husband, Alfredo Rosing, a marketing consultant who works from home, handles advertising and promotion for the business.
Research and development
About three years ago, Angeline Rosing began traveling to food shows around the country, looking for products to put in her baskets. She spent a year ordering samples and finalizing the inventory. "That was the most difficult part because the product itself is the most important thing," she said.
Though she does not make the cookies and candies herself, she said she loves putting them together in unique combinations. "It’s a beautiful way of expressing what’s in your heart by putting your personal touch on a gift," she said.
Rosing said she had about $50,000 in start-up costs, which included sampling, travel and website development. Advertising is conducted strictly online, through Google networks.
In the spring of 2010, Rosing began a trial run by assembling baskets for friends and family around the country. Her base of operations was the air-conditioned garage at her home, where she stored inventory and assembled and packed baskets.
The situation was not optimal, Rosing said. She needed a commercially cooled space to store the food items and she had to hand deliver orders to UPS daily. But her biggest challenge was that her sons were eating all the cookies.
"Having work and family in one place is not healthy," Rosing said. "I wanted to do something more professional."
In August 2010, Rosing moved operations to a 15,000-square-foot warehouse in Sunrise, about 10 minutes from her home. She employs a woman part-time to help keep inventory, assemble and ship baskets. Sales average 100 to 200 baskets a month, and Rosing began turning a profit a couple of months ago.
The biggest challenge?
A stay-at-home mom and avid runner, Rosing said she found it hard to balance everything. "But that’s my passion, and I think if if comes from the heart, you can overcome," Rosing said. "I’m very organized, and that’s how I came through."
A typical day
Rosing drops the boys off at the school bus and goes running to clear her head. By 9 or 9:30 a.m., she heads to the warehouse with printed orders from the previous day. She fills orders and has boxes ready for the UPS pickup at 1:30 p.m., then picks up the boys at school. After a snack, it’s time for soccer practice. Sometimes Rosing’s husband will take the boys if she has orders backed up.
"I really try to finish before they come home from school, so I can help them with their homework and be there for them," Rosing said. "For me, that’s the most important thing."
In the evening, Rosing heads back to the warehouse to print orders, check inventory and call suppliers. Then it’s back home to cook dinner.
On Saturdays, Rosing will bring the boys to the warehouse, where she pays them to help stock inventory.
"I want them to know what earning money is like," she said.
Rosing would like to expand her product line, but she wants to take it slow. "I want to wait to get more customer reviews," she said. "I don’t want to rush."
Advice for other moms?
"Everybody is always scared. You just need to set your mind and do the first step, even if it’s a little one," Rosing said. "And when you make it, organize yourself and get as much help as you can from people you love."