Former teacher develops online marketplace

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SHERIDAN — While Bought Beautifully may be the culmination of a dream for Emily Betzler, it was by no means an easy road to get there.

“I have learned new things, like how to build webpages, about social media, about coding, while I am still not a coder I have a better understanding of how Web development works,” Betzler said.

Add a preschooler and an infant into the mix and things get a little more complicated. But, from conception to launch, Betzler knew Bought Beautifully wasn’t going to be easy.

Betzler left her job as a junior high school teacher two years ago to run the nonprofit.

“I loved my job,” Betzler said. “I cried when I left, but this is what I’m supposed to be doing.”

She said the idea came to her as she looked at her life and the things she had and realized she was blessed. She and her husband, Colin, decided to find a way to use their money to benefit others, to help spread their faith and to make an effort to end poverty. They just lacked direction.

“I would look online for ways to spend our money strategically, to help others,” Betzler said. “It was time consuming and often hit or miss to find a product or company that aligned with our beliefs, but they were out there. I remember saying, ‘why can’t someone just put these all in one place?’ That’s when I thought that maybe I was the one who was supposed to put them all in one place.”

Betzler said she realized other consumers also likely had a difficult time ensuring the way they spent their money benefitted the global community. She wanted to help consumers be able to go to one spot and know those vendors hold the same values they do.

“Think of Bought Beautifully as a farmers market,” Betzler said. “The vendors come with their product and control the prices, but I provide the venue.”

But putting up a website for others to sell from is not simple.

“Starting this business has given me a masters in experience,” Betzler said. “I am proof that you can learn almost anything from Google and YouTube. I also turned to Lynda.com and if I knew someone with a technical backgrounds I wasn’t afraid to ask for their help.”

And while she learned to build a website capable of the job she wanted it to perform, and gained status as a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, Betzler looked for just the right vendors.

“I wanted businesses or nonprofits that were going to help others rise from poverty,” Betzler said. “We have 12 vendors now, and we’ve accepted the applications for two more. And we have two more just starting the application process.”

The application process helps ensure that Bought Beautifully allows only the right vendors into the marketplace.

There is a set of criteria that each vendor must pass before being accepted. They must:

• know their supply chain;

• pay fair/living wages;

• prioritize safe working conditions;

• practice wise environment stewardship;

• make Kingdom Impacts.

“Kingdom Impacts are how each vendor shared God’s love through their work,” Betzler said. “Our mission is to build a Christ-centered economy, our vendors’ Kingdom Impacts and the fact that they are being the hands and feet of Christ around the world is what sets us apart from other online marketplaces.”

Betzler’s vendors come from places as close to home as North Carolina and California, to countries as far afield as Burundi, Uganda, Kenya, Haiti and Peru. And Betzler never sees the products herself, but allows vendors to act autonomously. The only thing Bought Beautifully takes from the process is 5 percent of every sale to help maintain the website, which she would eventually like to expand into an educational experience for her vendors.

“We want to help vendors take the next steps in their business development, by providing access to resources, education and connecting them to key professionals or mentors that will help them to grow and enhance their businesses,” Betzler said.

For now, though, she still needs to take the little steps in her own business — marketing and advertising.

By |Oct. 21, 2014|

About the Author:

Kelli Heitstuman-Tomko joined The Sheridan Press in the fall of 2014. She covers business, police and courts.

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