...Vanessa , love having you share your insights with us. Before we ask you more questions, maybe you can take a moment to introduce yourself to our readers who might have missed our earlier conversations? I’m the owner of a gift shop offering professional gift wrapping. After having my son 4 years ago, I planned to go back to work once he started kindergarten but the more I was away from working in a clinical setting (I have my Master’s in Counseling) the less desire I had to go back. Two moves later and a pandemic, we were brought to Memphis, TN. What started as a gift wrapping service as a way to connect with my neighbors, quickly turned into a small business (a bespoke gift wrapping service and curated gift shop). When I gift wrap, I feel pure joy and pride. I take a different approach to my gift wrapping; it’s custom and unique to each recipient. Many of my individual customers come to me because they care about the presentation and want to present something beautiful. Before I wrap, I talk with my clients about the gift recipient, their personalities, favorite colors, background, etc. I want to make the gifting experience personal. This is one of the biggest elements that sets me apart from other gift shops, I listen and infuse my desire for connection into the curated items I carry in the store and the way I wrap.
Any stories or insights that might help us understand how you’ve built such a strong reputation?
As a small business, especially a creative one, you are often the face of your brand; I dove heavily into this, and still do (albeit unintentionally at first). My personality is infused into my business from the products I carry in my small shop to my gift wrapping service. I think the act of gift giving lends itself to some transparency, vulnerability, and genuineness and I also feel consumers deserve that so I have built a reputation with my market by showing them those qualities in myself.
Have you ever had to pivot?
I love reading about women who know what they wanted and went for it – my story is not that clear-cut. During undergrad, I always had a desire to be an interior designer or gift shop owner but talked myself into counseling being the better career path because it felt more “professional.” Fast forward 15 years later and a toddler and I no longer had the desire to continue down that career path. In hindsight, I recognize my core was always being pulled in a creative direction, however, I would often silence that part of myself and do what I felt was the more logical path...What that lead me to was ultimately opening my own gift shop in a traditional brick and mortar location. I feel some pivots are from necessity and others, in the case of this example, is pivoting from societal stigma, perceived norms, etc. and how that can result in the adage of following your gut.
You can read the full article here. for the Memphis small business interview