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When Patti Hughes began Natural Life in 1996, she could not have predicted it would become an international sensation with products in more than 5,000 retail establishments.
Hughes’ initial home-based hobby has grown into a Boho Chic artisan market offering everything from blankets and boxes to mugs and magnets, towels, tees and more adorned with the company’s signature bright colors and inspirational sayings.
“From the top down, Patti’s optimism and positivity has set the tone for the entire company, which has an effect on all the work and relationships here,” said Natural Life’s Import and Compliance Specialist Pat Garst.
A sharp focus on brand awareness has helped propel company growth, and Natural Life’s creative team – headed by Hughes as Chief Creative Officer – has a knack for consistently finding new “treasures,” as they call their products, which they often grow into full collections with various themes. For example, the introduction of simple travel cups grew into a “hydration” line with more than 20
different kinds of tumblers, bottles and drink “cozies,” their version of a koozie.
In 2015, after outgrowing its original office and distribution center, Natural Life moved its headquarters to Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, and its warehouse operations to West Jacksonville.
“One reason for our success is a constant energy of improvement that is shared by everyone at every level of the company,” said Ally Schultz, the company’s Supply Chain Manager.
Natural Life also transitioned from importing products through out of state ports to using JAXPORT, finding enormous benefits streamlining operations closer to home. Moving product through JAXPORT has allowed the company to enjoy enhanced logistics and form valuable business relationships with port officials and U.S. Customs officers, ultimately benefiting the customer, said Schultz, with
Natural Life imports more than 90 percent of its products from places such as China, India and Guatemala. In 2017, the company received 41 percent more shipments than the previous year and it is on track for another 40 percent plus increase this year.
“For the past three years, we have had consistent double-digit growth overall, and exports to international customers have been up 21 percent so far this year,” said Garst. “We have also had better-than-expected growth in our customer base and conversion with B2C. It has been an exciting few years for us.”
Natural Life has one signature flagship store in Jacksonville and three partner stores in Nashville, Tennessee; Grand Traverse, Michigan; and Nags Head, North Carolina. The company’s future growth plans include the rollout of a new web platform to bring more efficiency to operations and continued growth of products.
Story by Laura Jane Pittman
This article appeared in the Fall 2018 issue of JAXPORT Magazine.