In 2008 Kristi Banwart started making hair bows for her daughter and even sold a few of them at craft shows. She soon found that there was a big need for quality ribbons and other supplies for her projects. Eventually she purchased a large supply of good ribbon, but it was much more than she could use on her own. After listing for sale online, she found there were a lot of people looking for the same thing and the ribbon sold quickly.
There are probably thousands of hairbow makers across the US, who have run into the same problems locating good ribbon making supplies. Most people just stop at this point and make do with what they can get, but Kristi’s entrepreneurial streak kicked in. She began researching global suppliers and looking for manufacturers who could make high quality ribbon.
Finally she sat down with her husband, Trent, and asked, “How much do we have on our home equity line of credit?” And that is how Hairbow Center was started.
With the line of credit, the Banwarts were able to order a shipping container full of high quality grosgrain ribbon, hair clips, and all the other supplies that you need to make hair bows.
As the first container crossed the ocean on its way to Fort Scott, Trent mentally calculated how long it would take to sell the inventory based the bulk products they were splitting up and selling. The answer was measured in decades.
When it arrived, the inventory filled their garage. With an online webstore to sell the product, sales exploded. People all over the world discovered that www.hairbowcenter.com in Fort Scott Kansas was the place to go for quality ribbon and quick shipments.
Trent didn’t have to worry about his garage being stuck with the original inventory, but it wasn’t long before the garage couldn’t fit all the product they needed to inventory.
Eventually they built a warehouse on the East side of Fort Scott. They now have 7 employees working out of the 6,500 square foot, high efficiency facility where they ship an average of 100 orders each day and maintain an inventory of over 3,000 items.
The Hairbow Center is now creating ribbon with custom printed designs and even a custom line of specialty ruffled ribbon. So some of the products shipped from their warehouse aren’t available anywhere else in the world except Fort Scott.
Rural Kansas isn’t usually the first place businesses think of to build a large online business, but Haribow Center is finding a lot of advantages in Bourbon County. Land, electricity, construction and labor are all relatively inexpensive. By selling on the Internet, the Banwarts are able to stay a part of the community they love while tapping into a global demand for their products.