Natasha McCrary

Natasha McCrary owns 1818 Farms with her husband, Laurence McCrary. The Mooresville-based business was recently named Woman-Owned Small Business of the Year as part of Amazon's U.S. Small Business Spotlight Awards.

A Limestone County business was placed in the national spotlight this week after winning a small business contest sponsored by Amazon.com.

1818 Farms, based in Mooresville, was named Woman-Owned Small Business of the Year as part of Amazon's U.S. Small Business Spotlight Awards. It was one of three businesses to be honored by the retail giant, and the only business not on the West Coast.

Nutpods, based in Bellevue, Washington, was named Small Business of the Year. Habit Nest owned by Michael Ahdoot and based in Los Angeles, was named Small Business Owner Under 30 of the Year. All three businesses sell their products on Amazon's stores.

Natasha McCrary, owner of 1818 Farms, said she was honored to be recognized. Amazon officials visited the business last week and shared the news with her, but it wasn't made public until Tuesday. Owners of the businesses, including McCrary, appeared on ABC's “The View” as part of the nationwide announcement.

“We're very busy at the office today,” McCrary said by phone on Tuesday. “We've had a lot of people call the office after seeing 'The View.'”

McCrary began selling 1818 Farms products on Amazon Handmade in March 2017. The Amazon store caters to the “Artisan-only community” and only sells handcrafted goods. Among the most popular items are shea cream, cuticle balm and an essential oil roll-on.

“The shea cream has been the number one; it makes up more than 50 percent (of our sales),” McCrary said.

The cream is a blend of shea butter and coconut oil and comes in scented and unscented varieties. The newest scent is called Southern Tea, which is a takeoff on traditional southern sweet tea.

“It's used for moisturizing, and it just takes a tiny amount,” she said. “You get a lot of bang for your buck.”

A true small business

The fact any business from Mooresville would be recognized by a company as large as Amazon was pleasantly surprising to McCrary. 1818 Farms is the true definition of a small business. It's operated by McCrary and her husband, Laurence, and 10 employees, only three of whom are full-time.

“The rest work anywhere from five to 30 hours (per week),” she said. “They are cross-trained, and a lot of them have been with us quite a while. When we started, we could only afford one employee.”

She hopes the recognition of 1818 Farms would benefit the little town of Mooresville, which was incorporated in 1818. The state of Alabama was incorporated in 1819.

“(My family) is the sixth generation, so we're deeply rooted in Mooresville,” she said. “Any kind of publicity and tourism is good because the town has a limited tax base.”

In addition to 1818 Farms, Mooresville's businesses include JaVa.Mooresville, a coffee shop; Southern Carnage, a bicycle repair shop; Lyla's Little House, a sweets shop; Mooresville Mercantile, a crafts and home goods shop; and Hen House Art, which spotlights the works of artist Sue Hensley.

“Athens has been one of our biggest supporters,” McCrary said, adding UG White was one of 1818 Farms' earliest champions. “They were the second or third company to carry our line, and they still carry it today.”

About the contest

The Small Business Spotlight Awards, introduced in September, honored and celebrated “inspiring, unique, and customer-obsessed small businesses selling in Amazon’s stores,” according to a press release.

More than 1,300 American small businesses nominated themselves for the awards, and on Oct. 15, 18 finalists — six per category — were announced. The contest was then opened up for customer voting to select the winners, and voting concluded Nov. 8.

Winners received a prize package, which included six months of Amazon Strategic Account Services, Sponsored Products advertising credits and promotion on Amazon.com. Winners will also travel to Amazon’s Seattle headquarters to meet with Amazon leaders and learn more about the tools and services Amazon provides to help sellers grow and scale their businesses.

“A huge congratulations to all three winners as well as the rest of the small businesses named finalists in our first-ever U.S. Small Business Spotlight Awards,” said Nicholas Denissen, vice president of Small Business at Amazon. “We are honored that inspiring and diverse small businesses continue to choose to sell in our stores in the U.S. and around the world. 1818 Farms, Habit Nest and nutpods exemplify what small business success in our stores looks like, and we celebrate them as models for other aspiring small businesses and entrepreneurs.”

On average, U.S.-based small- and medium-sized businesses sell more than 4,000 items per minute in Amazon’s stores. Independent third-party sellers — primarily small- and medium-sized businesses — made up 58% of all physical gross merchandise sold in Amazon’s stores in 2018, and their sales far exceeded $2 billion on Prime Day in July this year. These businesses have created an estimated 830,000 jobs in the U.S.

In October, Amazon announced Amazon Storefronts, its curated destination to shop exclusively from American small- and medium-sized businesses, has surpassed 2.5 million products from nearly 30,000 companies. In the last 12 months, U.S. small- and medium-sized businesses with products in Storefronts have sold more than 250 million items to more than 70 million unique customers.

To learn more about the millions of small- and medium-sized businesses selling in Amazon’s stores, visit https://www.aboutamazon.com/supporting-small-businesses.

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