Today we’d like to introduce you to Anna Costello.
Anna, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I grew up in the Sunshine State (Florida) and now live in one of the cities with the most sunshine (Denver). Clearly, this has shaped me so I have a sunshine-state-of-mind!
My high school had a great tradition where you’d get a laundry basket full of goodies on your birthday. I used to love coordinating these baskets and thinking through items that would make people smile. When it was my birthday, my friends crushed it, and I felt really loved and touched by the items they selected for me – which, in turn, inspired me to pay it forward and try to give others that same feeling, too!
For most of my career, I worked with newspapers, and I was drawn to the impact they have on a community. And, I then transitioned to a team where I was building a product from the ground up, making me realize how much I loved creating new products and services while pushing the status quo. Then, I had a total “Eat, Pray, Love” moment. I quit my corporate job, went to a yoga retreat in Bali, and realized that I wanted to use these previous experiences and do something to make a big, positive impact. I wanted to make people happy! Thus, Ship Sunshine was born.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
A smooth road? No way! I’d love to know if anyone has experienced this with a start-up because I need their help! There have been days where I’ll think I need to hire a team of people, and other days where I think we should just sell our house and move in with my mother. (That would be okay, right, Mom?)
The biggest challenge for me is finding a balance of items that are cheery, useful, support my company’s values – yet are cost effective. The balance is key, and I don’t want price point to be the entry barrier if you want to let someone know you’re thinking of them and want to send a little sunshine!
In terms of advice – I’m still figuring it all out myself. And, maybe that’s the point. You have to start somewhere – whether it’s making a list of things you know you want (or don’t). Any progress is progress! Your business will constantly evolve, so… jump in!
Please tell us about Ship Sunshine.
Ship Sunshine offers a collection of gift boxes designed to brighten someone’s day. We have gifts for little and big life moments from thinking of you care packages to a wedding or corporate gift and you can customize your own.
One of my main goals is to make sure that my values play a front-and-center role in my business. I want to make the concept of “be kind” into an actionable mindset, while having a strong community presence, support local, minority, and women-owned businesses, and also be eco-friendly. (Sounds… easy, right?)
My entire life, I’ve heard of people who want to help a friend who’s going through something good OR bad, but they don’t know what to do… so they do nothing. My goal is to change this. Let’s start speaking up and spreading sunshine! Whether a friend has a heartbreak or an exciting moment, there’s something delightful about sending (and receiving) a surprise in the mail. Simply put, Ship Sunshine makes sure that you acknowledge life’s moments, big or small.
And, from this, I’m also taking aspects of this business and expanding to other areas. I started Dropship Like It’s Hot (order fulfillment and custom printing), Gather Networking (a group for entrepreneurial women, in partnership with Denver’s Jen Morris), and am about to launch Can Cooler Club (a subscription service where you can pick a favorite theme and receive a can cooler each month).
Who have you been inspired by?
My mom has been the biggest inspiration in my life. I was adopted when I was three and just won the lottery with her. She has such a big heart and is always thinking of others and ways to help people. She has an insane amount of energy, passion, and creative ideas. I’ve also had some amazing mentors, co-workers, and friends in my life – there are too many to mention them all, but I have to give a shoutout to Deb Dreyfuss-Tuchman and Michelle Mitchell.
- Ship Sunshine gift boxes ranges from $20-69 (or you can build your own custom box).
- Website: www.shipsunshine.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: instagram.com/shipsunshine
- Facebook: facebook.com/shipsunshine
Headshot credit: Krissy Blackband Photography