Start-Up Spotlight: Wilma and Rose - UNeTech Institute

DeAnna Williams is a woman of many talents. She loves theatre, experiencing new things, and is a mother of three. Not only that, but she owns and operates a business all by herself. Wilma and Rose is a gift concierge business based in Omaha. DeAnna named the business after her grandmothers to honor their legacy as well as establish one of her own.

Wilma and Rose creates curated gift boxes for any occasion. They have premade boxes to fit everyone’s needs, such as the Beard Box, which includes beard balm, oil, brushes and combs, and scissors, or the Bask Box, which includes a candle, toffee, bath bomb, and matches. Wilma and Rose also offers custom gifting as well as corporate gifting.

All of the products in the gift sets have been vetted by DeAnna herself and are typically made with local products from other small businesses. “I love helping other makers and other creators who are working on their own thing and being able to put it into a box that I’ve already put so much thought into, and I know they’ve put the same love and care into,” she said. “It makes it special to me.”

DeAnna has the drive and passion that successful entrepreneurs possess. She has always loved gift giving and was the one who did all the shopping at holidays. “That’s always the goal as an entrepreneur,” she said. “I enjoy this, can I make money off of this or is it just a hobby?” For her the answer was yes, I can make money off of this. She started her journey in January of 2019 and by September of 2020, she said it really hit her that she had her own business.

DeAnna Williams

Wilma and Rose really came to fruition when COVID-19 hit. Once the pandemic started, she stopped posting for a while. It felt almost inappropriate to promote her brand and ask people to spend money in a time of crisis, she said. But then she was approached by someone asking her to create a gift box for a friend’s event that she wasn’t able to attend because of COVID, and DeAnna realized her business could bring a sense of connection that had been so needed. Around Mother’s Day, business really took off. Everyone wanted to make their mom feel special, while still respecting social distancing and limited gathering restrictions. Companies reached out for corporate gifting options, to help their employees still feel connected while working from home.

COVID propelled Wilma and Rose much faster than DeAnna anticipated. Her business has been helping people feel the human connection that’s been missing. “I just want to provide a sense of connection and thoughtfulness that is lacking right now,” she said. “We don’t always get that comfort from a hug, maybe we can put that hug in a box for you.”

DeAnna is the definition of a “girl boss.” She runs Wilma and Rose out of her basement, all by herself, while still making time for her kids. DeAnna’s business has become very successful, but that didn’t happen without lots of hard work, time, and money. Finding funding for startups is always a challenge. DeAnna funded her business the good ole’ fashion way: bootstrapping. Bootstrapping means using your own resources, which is debatably one of the toughest parts of launching a startup. DeAnna said that having to use her own funds has made her more mindful and strategic with what she does.

DeAnna didn’t rush into this project without thought, but as it is with start-ups, you eventually just have to go for it. As time has passed, she said she’s learned that things don’t always go right, but that gives the opportunity to learn. Whether it’s sticking to budget or getting everything right for inventory, things won’t always be perfect. Throughout those mistakes you learn your lessons and develop new skills, she said.

DeAnna’s passion has given her the opportunity to be her own boss and do what she loves, every day. Wilma and Rose goes to show that if you put in the work, you can turn your hobby into a career. Isn’t that every entrepreneur’s dream?

You can find them on Instagram @wilmaandrose or at https://wilmaandrose.com/.