WHITESBURG, Ky. – Innovation, at its core, is the desire to do something out-of-the-box and achieve an outcome that perhaps seems unimaginable.
That is the driving force behind Annie’s Frugal Finery and its owner Debbie Campbell.
Annie’s occupies a bright pink building in the county seat of Letcher County. It’s 5,000 square-foot consignment store featuring name-brand clothing and accessories. It is also ground zero for the company’s Instagram account which has allowed it to sell merchandise all across the globe from Letcher County.
SOAR Innovation Business and Innovation Champion Jeffery Justice met with Campbell after learning about the “big pink building doing big things in Letcher County.”
“It is remarkable to think about the innovation and the spirit of innovation that exists within so many businesses across Appalachia Kentucky,” said Justice. “Debbie and Angie’s Frugal Finery is a prime example of that.”
SOAR Innovation is powered by the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development’s KY Innovation Office. It is a program designed to assist innovation-driven or innovation-capable small businesses, startups, and entrepreneurs.
As Justice and Campbell began to talk, there were many ideas and ways to help, but the first step was personal for Campbell. She wanted assistance to provide health insurance to her employees. She had dabbled through the process before, but it was daunting.
Justice stepped in and connected Debbie with Sandy Penix, of the Benefits Firm, a Blueprint
Partner of SOAR. Campbell also learned about opportunities to network and collaborate through the Southeast Kentucky Chamber of Commerce. She also learned of a group insurance rate discount for its members through Anthem.
The pieces fell in place.
“It moved me to tears,” said Campbell. “My business was built on the idea of giving back. I believe that when you put good into the world, you’ll get good in return.”
In Campbell’s case, she has great employees. Her five employees range in pay from $10 to more than $21 an hour. The insurance provided through the Benefits Group and the Southeast Kentucky Chamber of Commerce group discount resulted in 100% employer-paid insurance.
“That’s the beauty of this work. It is about finding an opportunity and leveraging the SOAR network of partners to deliver,” said Justice.
Campbell and Justice are now working on ways to better leverage technology to expand Annie’s global reach through e-commerce and tackle more efficient ways to track inventory.
“There’s something incredible going on in that big pink building in Whitesburg, and it all starts with the Debbie and her team,” said Justice.
If your business needs assistance or you have an idea to start your own business, reach out to Justice at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (859) 779-8282.