Emily Church personifies the American Dream: a self-starter from a humble background who, at age 20, created a home-based business that grew into a multimillion-dollar company.
With $500, Church founded Everything Kitchens in 2002 as an online store for kitchenware and small appliances. A decade later, Everything Kitchens encompasses a 13,000-square-foot warehouse, a retail store opened last fall in the Brentwood Center, 19 employees and more than $10 million in annual revenues.
“By cultural standards, I was not a privileged child. I had no money for college and was the oldest of nine children from a very poor family,” Church says. “According to statistics, I should not have been unable to do what I did.
“However, I am not really all that special. Sometimes one’s best quality is just that they are the one who sticks with it the longest, and they just refuse to give up.”
There have been challenges along the way. About 90 percent of Everything Kitchen’s sales come from its Web site, EverythingKitchens.com. So when Google changed its search algorithm last year, Everything Kitchen’s site ranking immediately dropped about 40 percent. Church and her employees worked through trial and error for eight months to return the site’s traffic and sales to normal levels.
“During all that, I fought layoffs, and nobody was laid off for lack of work, with the exception of temporary workers,” Church says. “I have a good team of employees and am thankful to them for their efforts during that difficult time.”
She doesn’t hire from outside this area, and sales from all over the country enrich the Ozarks through the jobs she provides. And with an eye of paying it forward, Church has mentored two people during the past year as they started online companies.
As much as Church appreciates the opportunity to give back to her community, she is most enthusiastic about her involvement with World Vision and Healing Haiti. A portion of Everything Kitchens’ profits are donated to World Vision, a Christian relief organization that works to combat poverty.
Employees can contribute to an employee-matching program, and customers are able to donate during the checkout process online.
Additionally, Church’s company supports about 30 percent of the operating expenses of Grace Village Orphanage in Titanyen, Haiti, where Church plans to visit this summer.
When helping others, Church ascribes to a philosophy attributed to Mother Theresa: “If you can’t feed 100 people, then feed just one.”
“You don’t have to fix everything,” Church says.
“Break the big problem down into achievable goals and take the part that you can fix, and do it. Don’t let the fact that you can’t do everything stop you from doing anything.”Click here for full coverage of the 2012 40 Under 40.