Simple Pleasures

Choosing not to put her profits into one basket, an entrepreneurial gourmand is now savoring the sweet taste of success.

What: Home parties selling gourmet food
Who: Jill Blashack of Tastefully Simple
Where: Alexandria, Minnesota
When: Started in 1995

Want to know how Jill Blashack converted her gift basket business into a $100 million enterprise? She got rid of the gift baskets.

After realizing that the products inside her gift baskets were what really interested customers, Blashack, 43, decided to transform her existing business into a home party opportunity that specializes in gourmet food.

The idea sparked after Blashack participated in the Holiday Crafters Tour, a local event that opened the doors of fancy homes to artisans and entrepreneurs wanting to show off their wares. As soon as Blashack gave the attendees taste tests, orders for her products started pouring in.

An SBA LowDoc loan and a personal investment helped Blashack finance Tastefully Simple, which features a menu with everything from sauces and popcorn to beer bread and dips, most priced around $6.99. Many customers have become consultants for the company. Hoping to expand her roster of consultants to 10,000 nationwide by year-end, Blashack says, "The best people we find are the ones who have [experienced] a party and said 'Wow, this is cool. I could do this.' "

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This article was originally published in the September 2002 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Simple Pleasures.

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