A few months back, I planned a trip to visit my peers in the industry of gifting and gift baskets. We met last year at the LV Gift Market convention in Vegas (yes, believe it or not, gift and gift basket companies actually have conventions!). There were a few newer participants and some people who have been doing gifting for a while. It was incredible to hear all the different stories of how these women started and grew their awesome businesses. Some were stay-at-home moms, others knew that this is a great business and did not want to work a 9 to 5 job, and some were inspired for other reasons. Nonetheless, we all had some form of a gift business catering to either personal clients, corporate clients, or both like mine.
When I drove up to the first gift basket shop, Santa Barbara Gift Baskets, which is owned by Anne Bloodgood-Pazier, I just fell in love with the shop immediately. Anne’s shop is just like her: trendy and fun! It is full of wonderful and unique fair-trade gift baskets. I love her presentation and transparency about both the challenges of her company and the successful business growth she has had over the years. I left this store truly inspired and already missing our conversation and her darling assistant, Karuna.
My trip to see these colleagues was like a mini-vacation because I love central California, and I knew I could cycle during my visit, which is a motivation to travel in itself.
On my way up to San Francisco, I took a side trip and visited my awesome CTS cycling coach, Julia, who took me up Figueroa Mountain, which is a very challenging ride. I stopped in Paso Robles and visited some shops there, which were such a fantastic inspiration for new and fresh ideas.
As I continued on my journey, I arrived in San Francisco to see my next friend and peer, Mitra at the San Francisco Gift Basket company. Her store is located in the financial district of Embarcadero Center, San Francisco, and it has a completely different look and feel from the first shop I visited. Mitra has been extremely successful in her gifting, which is primarily corporate. Her style is very classy and well put together, and her gifts also include a lot of sports and location memorabilia.
We had a great time conversing and had dinner on the water discussing the industry, including websites and vendors. We had such a great time getting to know one another more. I appreciate her experience and expertise in bow making as well as wrapping for shipping.
It is amazing how different So Cal, Santa Barbara, and San Francisco are, and yet all of our companies truly have the same main goals. Our clients are so different, but each wants a beautiful gift, and each owner wants to provide the best service. I truly value collaboration and believe that, if we share each other’s wisdom and knowledge and help one another, we really can be effective.
These women brought me into their businesses without any hesitation and showed me how they handle their gifts. In return, I offer them whatever I can from what I have experienced. I was totally encouraged and inspired by both of them. ~Michelle