Saturday, March 8, 2014

Windham company wins QVC Sprout contest - By Michelle Libby

Entrepreneur Shelly Afthim is not afraid of the word “no”. Perhaps that is why she has gone from cooking for her friends to selling her three varieties of meatballs to a national audience through QVC Sprouts program.
“I’m just not afraid of the word ‘no’. I have nothing to lose. If you want it you’ll find a way to make it happen,” she said. 

For two weeks, Afthim competed through a public vote to beat out two other companies for the honor of being the “best up-and-coming products from inventors and entrepreneurs,” according to a QVC Sprouts press release. Gourmet Passionista won with 2,500 votes, Afthim said. 

My friends and family in the community are generally happy for me. They’ve been behind me from the start. There were my taste testers and helped pick my logo,” she said. 

The biggest perk for her business is the relationship she now has with QVC. “QVC does $8.6 billion in business and has $1.6 million homes it reaches in the US. If you’re gonna do it, aim high,” she said. 

“I can’t even believe it’s my story. It’s a great story, but when it’s yours it doesn’t seem like it was that bad, but it was bad,” she said. Afthim spent time in the hospital with heart issues and chronic illness caused by Lyme disease and has spent a lot of time recovering from that. 

She also gives credit to her husband Phil for taking that initial leap contacting QVC. “He’s been there through sickness, physical, emotional strain and financial strain,” she said. She wouldn’t have done this without him, she added. 

Another first for Afthim and her one-woman company is that Gourmet Passionista was the first gourmet food company to compete in and be selected for the Sprouts Program. The other products that week were a bag designed for girls that had swappable panels on the outside and a tooth timer used to time how long a child is brushing his or her teeth. 

“It was a win. No one can take that away from me,” Afthim said.  No matter what happens, Afthim knows she started and finished her quest to be successful. “There are two ways of looking at it. You can see the bad or the good. It’s a teaching moment for (my children),” she said. The children are 13 and 11. 

Now, Afthim is licensed to sell the meatballs out of her home in Windham and has started testing the next flavor, a bacon cheddar southern-barbeque sauce meatball. “I’m growing the business on a small scale,” she said. 

Her long term goal is to bring manufacturing from Bangor to Windham. She’d like to hire five to 10 employees, “which will give me more control and provide jobs for the community,” she said. 

The Sprouts Program is very nurturing, Afthim said. She hopes that sales will be strong enough so that they can be sold on-air soon. 

The Meatball Lady as she is more often known as is looking to develop local markets to sell the products as well including restaurants and caterers.  

For more information about Afthim visit To learn about QVC Sprouts, visit

No comments:

Post a Comment

Your Comments Help Improve Your Community.