A Custom Gift Basket Designer's Lessons Learned

FILED IN: Behind-the-Scenes, Education

Posted By: Jamie Kutchman, Founder


Taking a break from curated gift boxes and custom gift baskets to share some thoughts on running an artisan gifting business. Each new year is an opportunity to celebrate accomplishments of the previous year, but let’s face it. You can often learn more from what didn’t go according to plan. Here are mine…

Creative entrepreneur lessons learned

Always do the Right Thing

Knock on wood, we’ve been blessed with virtually no major issues with gift deliveries over the last couple of years. But there’s a first time for everything and we had our very first incident this year. And it was major. A huge custom gift order was shipping across the country and a good portion of the gifts showed up terribly damaged. While the issue was definitely the fault of UPS, our client needed corporate welcome gifts the NEXT day for a huge corporate retreat they were planning. We ended up spending couple thousand dollars overnighting replacement pine boxes and hiring two people to go to the venue across the country and re-assemble the gifts that were damaged so our event planner clients were inconvenienced the LEAST amount possible on the day of their event. As a result, we were absorbed additional product costs, overnight shipping costs and labor costs. But you know what? It didn’t even matter because it was the right thing to do. The client ended up praising us for how we handled the situation and has vowed to use us again in the future. We took a VERY bad situation and turned it into a good situation simply by treating the client right and viewing the client relationship as a long-term one rather than focusing on the loss we were taking in the moment.

Even Loyal Employees Don’t Stay Forever

Just prior to opening the new gift studio, my first-ever full-time employee resigned to pursue other create interests. It came as a total shock to me and I took it pretty hard. But not soon after, I regrouped and have ended up better in the long run. The current team has learned to operate more efficiently and I now utilize subcontractors to fulfill some of the previous tasks which is better for the business as we scale for the future. Though I was sad to see her go, choosing to view it as a benefit to the business and adjusting quickly, rather than taking it personally, made all the difference in the world.

Small business lessons learned Marigold & Grey

Calculated Risks are Necessary

Most people ask how I knew it was the right time to move the business out of my home and into a commercial studio space. My answer has always been pretty simple. At the point where I could no longer take on any additional simultaneous projects due to lack of space, I knew it was time. However, making this move cost money and I couldn’t be 100% sure that the amount of projects were were getting would continue. So, it was definitely a risk. But I knew that if I wanted to really scale the business, I had to do it because we were at capacity. It’s more pressure on me with the additional overhead but it’s also allowed us to take on larger projects and more of them. While risky, I do believe it was the right decision.

Done is Better Than Perfect

In early November, it was time to finalize our holiday gift collection for our online shop. In addition to the traditional curated gift box designs, I also had my heart set on a festive, black and white New Years-inspired gift! We tweaked and tweaked the design and it just wasn’t working. I was almost tempted to delay our scheduled photo session in order to perfect this one design. Thankfully, I realized that I should ditch it and go with the gift box designs that we had finalized and felt great about. In the end, our collection sold out completely and we exceeded our goals for the holiday season. Sometimes done is really better than perfect.

Creative entrepreneur small business lessons

Anyone relate to any of these scenarios? If so, please share in the comments. We always love to get feedback on our behind-the-scenes blog posts! Happy New Year everyone!

All images: Renee Hollingshead Photography
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