Global Logistics Firm Grows By Leaps and Bounds in its Portland Home
UTi Worldwide grew from 14 employees to more than 230 in just 18 months thanks in part to a $250,000 loan from Business Oregon.
Naturally Knotty Designs was started at the beginning of the 2008 recession, which forced the company to streamline all aspects of its business to achieve maximum efficiencies. Within one year, the company's scarves, handbags and other women's accessories could be found in more than 200 boutiques, and now four years later, they are sold in more than 1,200 stores globally, including retail giants Costco, Whole Foods and the Wegman's chain of stores. The company also plans to expand into the Costco International stores in the United Kingdom, Australia, Taiwan and Korea in 2013.
Since being distributed by Costco, Company CEO and founder Jasmine Fullman has graced the cover of their 20-million-member mailer and created a Costco exclusive gift pack. Fullman also supplies many well-known exclusive and specialty spa and hotel chain gift stores.
The company's sustainable style has meant huge success for company founder, a former kindergarten teacher, who reuses all manners of scrap material to create her products. She sources factory seconds, scrap, over stock, eco-friendly, cruelty-free and/or recycled materials wherever possible to create her line of scarves, handbags and other women's accessories.
In 2011, Business Oregon assisted the company in contracting the services of a lean manufacturing consultant who helped the company grow while preserving its dedication to sustainable practices. This approach has become an everyday principle that Fullman describes as at the very core of the company's existence.
"The company emerged out of the opportunity to use scrap materials in Shanghai, and at each stage of our developmentfrom relocating from China to Oregon, to partnering with major retailers like Costcowe've had to find new ways to make beautiful wraps and bags sustainably," said Fullman. "Sustainability is part of our daily life, right down to the fact that we continue to operate a family-run, paperless business without a central office."
Oregon's energy costs are among the lowest industrial rates in the U.S. averaging fewer than 5 cents per kilowatt hour in some areas. This is about half of the industrial rates in California.