This article was originally featured in ColoradoBiz magazine. Click here to read the full feature.
Ship Sunshine started with the simple mission of bringing everyday joy and sunshine to people and organizations around the world. What started as an “eat, pray, love moment,” according to Ship Sunshine Founder Anna Costello has transformed into a company and service that delivers eco-friendly gift boxes designed to brighten someone’s day.
In addition to the company’s mission of activating thoughtfulness and spreading joy through functional, useful and cheery gifts, Costello has baked sustainability into the foundation of her business. Best for Colorado spoke with Costello to learn more about the 2019 Best for Colorado honoree and her sustainability journey.
Best for Colorado: Why did you start Ship Sunshine?
Anna Costello: I realized I wanted to start this company when I had a typical millennial eat, pray, love moment where I quit my corporate job and went to a yoga retreat in Bali. I was trying to figure out what to do with my life, and I remember just sitting there in the sun in this kind of trance because of how beautiful everything was. I was thinking that this feeling and appreciation is so special and so necessary, and so easy to take for granted in the everyday hustle and bustle. I remember thinking that I wanted to figure out how to spread that sunshine. I had always liked making care packages for my friends and family. I loved the idea of the surprise and delight of snail mail, so the idea came together.
[Ship Sunshine’s] goal is to spread a little sunshine to the people, organizations and causes that need it the most.
BFCO: How did you begin your sustainability journey?
AC: I filed all the paperwork to become a B Certified company, and the assessment is pending right now. There are so many companies using buzzwords as marketing ploys, and it was important for me to file the paperwork to get certified.
One of the reasons I wanted to start my own business was because I saw it as an opportunity to assert my own values into it. I didn’t want to be one of those companies that just says they donate or says they’re eco-friendly, but don’t back their words with action. From the start, it was so important for me to understand what all the B Corps assessment pieces were, because I wanted to incorporate them into the foundation of my business model.
I’ll admit, in the beginning, I got a little discouraged. There were questions like, “What percentage of revenue did you donate last year?” and I would think, “OK, I didn’t even exist last year.” However, I’m really glad that I stuck with it. A big part of [sticking with that] was working with The Alliance Center Program Manager, Anne.
BFCO: How did you first connect with The Alliance Center and Best for Colorado?
AC: I first connected to Best for Colorado through a partnership with the University of Colorado. I got involved with a program that assigns students to help companies score higher on the B-Corps assessment. From there, I was nominated for the Best for Colorado awards, and I won the Inspirational Leader award last year, which was such a surprise and honor. That’s how I first connected with Anne and the Alliance Team and have been in touch ever since.
BFCO: What would you say is one of the most rewarding aspects of your work?
AC: We hand write each personalized note [which are sent with each gift box] and reading them is just the best reminder of exactly why I started Ship Sunshine. I’ve honestly started tearing up multiple times reading these messages [that contain] all the reasons people are sending love and letting people know they are thinking of them.
BFCO: You work with a lot of women-owned businesses and different nonprofits. Can you speak to this?
AC: Right now, 60% of our products are from local and women-owned companies, and it’s incredible to see people who are doing exactly what they are meant to be doing. I find their products and stories fascinating, and it’s been a gift to be able to work with them and be inspired by them.
In terms of partnering with organizations, the community is really important to us. We work a lot with nonprofits like the Women’s Bean Project and Period Kits. Each month, we have a dedicated Cause of the Month. Next month our cause will be Teachers and Nurses, so we’re planning to send care packages and giveaways to show appreciation for their work during this time.
BFCO: Can you share any more eye-opening experiences that have come with being part of BFCO?
AC: One of the best parts has been being part of a community of people that share similar values. Surrounding myself with business owners and individuals that are working toward the same goals inspires me, elevates me and keeps me accountable. Getting to connect with all these different organizations and people has been a really special part of this entire journey.