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Ground Floor: Cedar Rapids startup builds a better basket

BasketCase gets ready in time for the holidays

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CEDAR RAPIDS — Sometimes great ideas arise from mundane circumstances.

That was LaNette Faaborg’s experience.

Early last year, after the holidays, Faaborg was making the long drive home from her son’s house in northwest Iowa. Riding next to her on the passenger seat was a gift basket from her son’s in-laws.

“It was a wicker basket,” Faaborg recalled. “I love giving and receiving gift baskets, but it’s always a struggle to find the right container. As I looked over at this basket, I kept thinking it’s too bad there’s not a less-expensive alternative that you could recycle.”

By the time Faaborg arrived home, the idea behind BasketCase LLC was born.

Faaborg’s concept was to develop a corrugated cardboard product that started out flat and folded into a container — similar to a grocery store tote box. The next step was to make her vision a reality.

“The actual design proved to be quite a challenge,” she said. “I thought it would be the simplest part, but it wasn’t. I almost gave up a couple of times.”

Nights and weekends found Faaborg and her husband in the garage cutting and gluing cardboard into different configurations. She finally found a custom packaging company in Des Moines that helped her perfect the design and manufacture the containers.

She received her first shipment of containers in August.

“There’s a big market for gift baskets at holiday time,” Faaborg said. “But you have to get places on board by July or August.”

While working full time as an oncology and hematology nurse in Cedar Rapids, Faaborg spent much of her free time marketing BasketCase containers to local boutiques and other businesses. She said one of her most successful efforts was with a local Hy-Vee store, which used the containers to create holiday food baskets for a corporate customer.

In addition to the gifting containers, which hold up to 30 pounds and come in three designs, BasketCase also offers custom filler and stickers to mark the occasion or event. Faaborg is working with wholesalers and local businesses to develop an inventory of gift items for fully customizable baskets.

“Going forward, I would like to expand into eco-friendly wrapping paper and other green gifting products like gift bags and cards,” she said. “I have a lot of ideas.”

Faaborg said it was her passion for local businesses and the environment — as well as the support of her family — that helped her move forward with her original idea despite the challenges she faced along the way.

“This is my creative little dream,” she said. “I never did anything like this before, but once I got the idea in my head, I just kept going with it.”

AT A GLANCE

Owner: LaNette Faaborg

Business: BasketCase LLC

Email: lanette@iabasketcase.com

Telephone: (319) 560-3532

Website: www.iabasketcase.com

If you know of a business in operation for fewer than 12 months that would be idea for “The Ground Floor,” send an email with some details to michaelchevy.castranova@thegazette.com

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