A few years ago Willie Anthony was trying to make ends meet for himself and his two daughters by working the night shift at Waffle House. Money concerns were a constant stress, and Willie often sought support from others to stay afloat. He was fortunate to have a church pastor and the pastor’s wife to step in for family support. “They would babysit and help with the power bill when I was short [on money],” he says. Searching for a meaningful way to thank the couple, Willie went to a dollar store and created custom gift baskets for them. The baskets were so well received, he realized there could be something more to the baskets than a gesture of thanks.
Inspired by his mother who sold Avon makeup products when he was a child, Willie began creating gift baskets of beauty products and other treats to sell for a profit. He soon discovered a good product was not enough to sustain a budding business. Willie enrolled in the GoodBIZ! micro-entrepreneurial program to learn how to refine his business.
“I came to the Goodwill program and I think it was the best decision for me,” he says. “Before I came to the program I was selling my product here and there and running from the police. Now that I’ve cleaned up my act, things are a lot better.”
Willie got advice on all components of his business plan and quickly discovered where he was excelling and what needed improvement. While there are always opportunities to further perfect his business – Love Me Tender Gift Baskets and More – he has come a long way. “Since I entered the program I’ve actually had repeat customers,” he says. “I have a portfolio and business cards, and people take me seriously.” Aware of his humble beginnings but constantly looking ahead, Willie has clear goals for the future of his business. As he continues to learn and adjust, he is grateful for the coaching that set him in the right direction.