By Kent Larsen
LDS Entrepreneur's Mission Leads To Nativities.com
WASHINGTON, DC -- Kurt Holmgren's LDS mission to Poland started him on the
road to his business, Nativities.com, a website that sells unique nativity
sets from all over the world. Kurt and his wife Erica started the site last
year after developing the concept as a side business, and it has since grown
into a small business that may now lead to their operating the site full-time.
While in Poland, Holmgren met a Polish LDS Church member, Waldemar
Rudziecki, and agreed to stay in contact with him after returning to the
U.S. Enamored of the idea of international trade with Poland, Holmgren
studied the subject at UVSC and at BYU, while maintaining his contact with
Rudziecki. At UVSC, Holmgren met his wife, Erica, a returned missionary who
served in Japan, and together they started importing the Polish crafts that
Rudziecki found, selling mainly to gift and craft stores in Utah county and
in Utah state.
Since their imports included nativity sets, the Holmgrens soon noticed a
demand for the nativities among collectors, who easily paid $300 each for
the sets. So Kurt decided to sell nativity sets around the world, and
scoured the Internet and the couple's contacts for unique sets unavailable
in the U.S.
Last year, they put up a "brochure" site that included their phone number
and contact information, but were disappointed with the number of sales
compared to the number of visits. "It was discouraging," Erica Holmgren
says. "We had 120,000 hits on our site the month before Christmas last year,
and maybe sold to 10 people."
This year, the couple has changed the site completely, putting up
full-fledged e-commerce site that allows visitors to order online. Sales are
up and the Holmgrens expect to book $18,000 of orders for the Christmas
season alone. The workload has made them even consider hiring additional
help to meet the site's demands.
And now the site has the couple thinking this might be a full-time business,
but they are nervous about taking that step, "It was always meant to be
something we did on the side," Kurt says. "We haven't thought a ton about
what's going to happen. Frankly, it's taken off more than we expected."
Still, they believe that this could also fit their personal goals, "I would
love to be my own boss forever," says Kurt. "That would be ideal."
Christmas Spawns Web Sites
Washington Post pgE07 11Dec00 I2
By Margaret Webb Pressler: Washington Post Staff Writer