Appoints President, Posts Record Sales Appoints President, Posts Record Sales

Madison, Wis. – By embracing a unique combination of art, the Internet and business savvy, is continuing to gain momentum. The marketer of home furnishings and artisan gifts recently reported a 23-percent revenue increase in 2003 and has appointed a new president.
Michael Baum, formerly chief of operations for Wisconsin Rapids-based Renissance Learning, was appointed to the newly created position of president of The move will allow founder Toni Sikes to focus on the company’s long-term growth strategies as the company seeks to diversify its direct-to-consumer business.
During 2003,’s technology platform put new power into its no-inventory business model by automating everything from point of sale to fulfillment. The result was a reported a 10 percent decrease in operating costs from 2002.’s IT systems are designed to deliver an efficient distribution channel for the company its artist suppliers. has undergone a unique transformation, sustaining the dot-com bust and an unsuccessful merger that eventually allowed Sikes to reclaim the company in 2001. was founded in 1985 as The Guild, an art publishing business that offered art books and resource guides for professional-building interior design and was later launched as a Web site in 1999. The move online was aided by a $25-million venture capital investment. The site, like many other dot-coms at the time, was unable to attract enough customers to sustain its growth, which led to the business being sold to a Houston-based company. Sikes has said her focus is now on growing the company slower.
“Growth can clearly come through e-commerce, but that will take time. We are now relying on areas that we know while we’re learning about online business,” Sikes told the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Business.