No doubt about it! There is a dramatic increase in home-based businesses over the last decade! Why? Self-Independence? High cost of daycare? Or, maybe we just want to truly be in charge of the direction of our lives.
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A Gift Basket Business the "Punkin" Way!

No doubt about it! There is a dramatic increase in home-based businesses over the last decade! Why? Self-Independence? High cost of daycare? Or, maybe we just want to truly be in charge of the direction of our lives.

Many people are trading in their corporate hats and venturing into the small home based business world. reports "...currently about 50% of the 10 million (primarily) self-employed are home-based; thus, there are already about 5 million home based businesses ... Home-based businesses will continue to increase ... Much of the increase, however, may be secondary self-employment businesses rather than home-based businesses relied upon for primary income..."

Jennifer Powell, owner of Punkin's Gift Baskets and Boxes, is no stranger to working at home. She telecommuted for a NJ company as a government mortgage processor. How did she end up starting her present business?

"...My partner moved his business here, from NJ and took a building with extra space & asked me if I wanted to use the space for a business. So, I opened a gift shop business in the fall of 1999. I also started an online gift store at the same time. I don't really know how it happened. I just kind of fell into it" (mistake number 1).

When interest rates were on the rise in mid-1999 I was laid off, within two months of moving. My income was immediately reduced by two-thirds. Mortgage processors in my area make only 25 to 35% of what I earned. So I decided to take my chances and threw myself into the gift business full-time. The name of the business is Punkin's Gift Baskets & Boxes. (Punkin is my nickname.)"

Why a gift basket business?

"I have always liked coming up with 'the right gift'. Christmas is my favorite time of year and I'm the one, of 4 sisters, who can really wrap a gift. I like the creativity of it, combining ribbon and paper; patterns and color. I offered free gift-wrapping in the gift shop, year-round just because I like to wrap gifts. The gift baskets kind of grew out of that."

For example: you have a friend who likes teddy bears. So you look for a teddy bear address book and maybe a pen. I just took that a step further and combined an address book, blank journal, pen note cards and coordinating envelopes and a porcelain hinged box all in a teddy bear motif and pre-wrapped it. I thought, "Hey, this is fun! I'll be up and going in no time."

Facing challenges and obstacles in the beginning, Jennifer tells us:

"It was a "learn as you go" situation. I didn't have the time to do proper research on the demographics of the area or the industry in general" (mistake number 2).

I no longer had the income to fund this adventure so each mistake, they are unavoidable, was costly. I didn't know how to price a basket, didn't know what made them stay together, how to shrink wrap, etc."

Researching a small business idea is essential!

"The most important thing anyone who wants to start a gift basket business can do is RESEARCH! Learn everything you can (while you still have another job). Go into stores and look at their gift baskets not only the price and products but also the mechanics of it. Use the web to see what's out there. Learn to make a hand-tied bow. Go to the Library and check out books or industry periodicals. The biggest obstacle in any gift business is competition. There are tons of places to buy gifts: card and gift stores, online shopping, chain stores, drugstores, etc. You need to set yourself apart somehow. Whether it is hand delivery to the local hospitals or some specialty item or niche product. People need a reason not to just go to Wal-Mart and get a gift."

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