Gypsi and The Wholesome Basket, Burlington

The Iowa Small Business Development Center at Southeastern Community College helped Doreen Roy with payroll, accounting and human resource issues so she could combine her existing home-based business with a new retail business in a storefront in Burlington.

Doreen Roy began making natural goats’ milk soaps for her family in 1999. Experimenting further using natural oils and emollients, Doreen introduced new products such as skin creams, lotions, lip balm, and deodorant to her family and friends. With their encouragement, The Wholesome Basket was born.

In the early days, this home-based business sold products through craft shows, local farmers markets, and via the Internet. Demand for the natural goats’ milk products grew, and Doreen found herself needing help managing the growth of her business.

Doreen had attended many of the workshops sponsored by the Southeastern SBDC and Southeastern Community College, such as Marketing 101, Branding Your Business, and Facebook for Business. Doreen has a solid background in marketing, but wanted to make sure that she was utilizing all the marketing opportunities available to continue growing her business.

In 2011, Doreen approached the Southeastern SBDC about the possibility of opening a new business in downtown Burlington. The new business would carry trendy accessories, jewelry, purses, and scarves, as well as her line of Wholesome Basket products. The timing of this new business opportunity was perfect; Doreen’s family was growing up, and the popularity of her products was skyrocketing. Doreen had many questions about combining the new venture with her already-established Wholesome Basket business.

Together, Doreen and SBDC Regional Director Janine Clover worked through the legal organization of the business, the pros and cons of combining the businesses, getting an Iowa Sales Tax permit set up for the new venture, and more importantly, the hiring of employees. Up to this point Doreen had made and sold her products, plus managed the business, with just the help of her family and children. With the new store front, outside staffing would now become necessary. Janine walked Doreen through all the paperwork needed to set up payroll for the new employees, as well as employment applications, the employment tax process, and helped her put together an employee handbook.

Doreen stated, “I could not have set up the employment taxes and accounts needed for employment taxes without the help of the SBDC. There is a lot to be aware of when hiring employees. The Iowa SBDC offers great workshops and personable business advice.”

In May 2012, Gypsi opened on Jefferson Street in downtown Burlington. Utilizing her Business/Merchandising and General Textile degree, Doreen tastefully and attractively displays both Gypsi and The Wholesome Basket merchandise in the store, including purses, scarves, jewelry, accessories, soaps, lotions, lip balms, candles and home décor.

Gypsi’s part-time staff of five is always helpful and friendly. “Business has been very good, and we have regular shoppers from as far away as Navoo, Illinois,” says Doreen. Heavily involved in Burlington Downtown Partners, a Main Street Iowa group, Doreen is also a strong advocate and mentor for downtown businesses.

You can visit Doreen’s website at, or read the latest about what is happening with the business on Facebook at

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