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Cedar Mill News
Volume 6, Issue 7


July 2008
Giftique sisters
Leona and Jeanne work at the large custom table in the garage, which is their basket assembly area.

Featured Business

By Virginia Bruce

When most people envision a home-based business, they picture perhaps a bedroom-turned-office with a computer. Well, there is a room like that in Leona Bolton’s house, but it’s only a small part of this gift basket business. Baskets, gift items, ribbons, packing boxes and more fill most of the rooms in the home in an area west of Murray that used to be considered Cedar Mill until Highway 26 split it off.

Sisters Leona Bolton and Jeanne Liberty started Giftique in 2006. They had been working with a friend who made jewelry—filling orders, packing and shipping, but, says Leona, “that venture didn’t pan out the way we hoped it would, so we thought about expanding into a more hands-on home business. We did a lot of research and decided to start a gift basket business.”

baskets in the shed
Baskets and other inventory that doesn’t need temperature control are kept in their new storage shed in back of the house. They plan to install more chains to hold baskets suspended from the ceiling.

They spent many months planning and designing the physical parameters for the business in Leona’s home, setting up the office, workshop, and storage areas. As Leona is still working full-time, she became the financial manager for the company (a job that can be done evenings and weekends). They knew that another person available on a day-to-day basis, in addition to Jeanne, would be needed to run the business. Their sister Lynne became their full-time employee in October 2006.

As part of their research, they discovered a software company that provided a complete solution for the gift-basket industry (who knew?). “Baskware” provides a package that creates orders, tracks inventory, calculates shipping, and is integrated with their online ordering system. They also get web hosting and an online store. “We get about 25% of our business from internet sales,” says Jeanne.

But it’s the quality of the baskets, and the personal attention to customers that is responsible for their success. The first six months of 2008 showed a 900% increase over the same period last year!

Last May they acquired another gift-basket company, Creative Northwest, when the owner decided to sell her business due to medical problems. “The most important assets were her phone number and website, which we integrated with our own, as well as her corporate client list,” says Jeanne. 

giftique living room
There’s a living room under there somewhere! They'd eventually like to move the business out of Leona’s home.

Their best clients are corporations who order baskets for customers and employees. Port of Portland, PGE, US Bank, Wells Fargo Bank, and the new downtown Hotel Modera are some of their notable corporate customers. Gift baskets for these customers are often custom-designed and may include ribbons with corporate logos or branded gift items. They are happy to make presentations to potential corporate clients including samples of some of their gourmet food products.

They find their gourmet and specialty food products from many sources around the country. “We want to offer items you can’t buy in a store,” says Leona. “That’s what makes the baskets special.” They also have Northwest specialty baskets that include such yummy-sounding treats as Rainy Day Chocolate rain drops, Oregon Berries jelly candies, and Huckleberry Old-fashioned Salt-water taffy.

They hand-deliver orders in the Portland area, and ship baskets to destinations all over the US.  Leona says, “Last year, we received a call from a lady in Indiana wanting one of our on-line baskets to be shipped to Denver. We know there are gift basket companies in Denver, so we asked this lady why she decided to order from us instead of a local company in Denver.   She said that our baskets were so much nicer than anything else she had seen on the web that she was willing to pay the additional shipping costs from Portland to Denver.” They’ve also received several international orders for delivery in the US.

Giftique-photo setup
When they create a new basket design, they take photos for their website

They advertise in local phone books, and belong to a number of networking groups to get the word out about their products. Their website gets good exposure, and they’re also part of the Telegift Network (the FTD of gift basket companies). “We’re always looking for new customers and corporate clients,” says Jeanne.

The sisters grew up in southern California. Leona joined the Air Force in 1973 and was away from the family most of her adult life, except for visits. She became disabled, left the Air Force, and moved to her current home in 1990. In 2003 Jeanne retired from a Court Reporting career and moved to Beaverton. In 2004, sisters Lynne and Joanne also moved to Beaverton. Jeanne says, “I don’t think we would have started a home business if it wasn’t with family members. We know each other’s strengths and weaknesses and we each care deeply about making this business a success.” One of their business goals is to allow Leona to retire from her full-time job within five years.

The company slogan is “Affordably Elegant Gift Baskets,” so they try to accommodate everyone’s budget. Their on-line baskets range from $16.50 to $95.00. Some of the custom baskets they have done for corporate clients have ranged from $50.00 to $200.00.

Visit their website at giftiqueoregon.com, or reach them by phone at 503-643-2153. You can see some of their baskets when they’re at the CMBA booth at the Cedar Mill Farmers’ Market this summer. They will also be providing baskets as prizes for the Kids’ Passport contest at the Cedar Mill Park Concert in August (see CMBA Meeting Notes)



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Published monthly by Cedar Mill Advertising & Design
Publisher/Editor:Virginia Bruce
12110 NW West Rd
Portland, OR 97229