Bundling the idea of buying local, Michigan made products and employing workers with special needs, Bundled is a gift that keeps on giving.
By Suzanne Chessler
Just for fun, Chelsea Gheesling and Courtney Taylor started a blog in 2014. The two, friends since their early teens, went to places around the state and wrote about them for the website they titled “Chick in the Mitt.” Part of the fun was discovering and researching all the products made in Michigan — food, clothing, stationery, novelties.
Gheesling, a marketing specialist who has worked for Quicken Loans and Everest Collegiate High School and Academy in Clarkston, and Taylor, a special education teacher in Livonia, were so impressed with what they found that they combined their creative talents in 2015 to start a business that showcased Michigan products and employed workers with special needs. Calling the business Bundled and renting office space in Livonia, they put together gift packages to please people of all ages and to celebrate special times — giving each recipient more than one item according to themes and special interests.
Birthdays, graduations, weddings, anniversaries — and holidays — are occasions to receive packages mailed, at no cost to the giver, from Bundled. When large numbers of bundles are prepared for business or party distributions, they can be delivered. Just as set combinations are available, so are custom-prepared alternatives. All are bundled by individuals participating with Services to Enhance Potential (STEP), where employees are scheduled according to orders and where Bundled offices are housed. After eight months of building a customer base, Bundled reached profitability.
“We source our bundles from about 50 Michigan vendors,” says Gheesling, who lives near Taylor in Commerce Township. “Orders are generally handled through online contacts [bundledmi.com], and we’ve had customers from outside the state. This is our busiest time of the year as people prepare for holiday activities.”
Among the many featured products are Sanders’ milk chocolate sea salt caramels, various farmers markets’ floral arrangements, Cellar Door’s candles, Elliton Crossing’s decorative magnets, Whimsy & Wild’s notepads and Lola Marie’s baby hats. The special holiday bundle includes Lush Gourmet’s cinnamon spice nuts, June & December’s boughs & berries tea towel, JKM Soy’s Holiday Cheer Candle and Elliton Crossing’s Michigan home ornament.
“Besides building a business from ground up with my best friend, my favorite thing about owning Bundled is the impact we have on the small business economy in Michigan and the awareness we are bringing to the importance of employing individuals of all abilities,” Taylor says. “I just love working with individual customers to help them curate the bundles of their dreams. We did amazing bundles for a large corporate event at Cobo Center in Detroit. Each bundle was gigantic and stuffed full of Michigan-made goodies. We got to deliver them and see the look on the faces of winners. That was priceless!”
Gheesling remembers a specialty euchre bundle that held a deck of cards, a euchre cube and a supply of snacking peanuts. “We try to use items from small businesses, but when we think packages are enhanced by specific items, we get them from larger firms,” Gheesling says. “We’ve included Better Made chips and Faygo pop.
“We want people to see the great productivity in our state and encourage other people to support small businesses. Bundled also shows the great work that can be done by adults with disabilities, and that’s so important in any community.”
Follow Bundled on Instagram to see the great work they do, along with new bundles @Bundledmi.