“The gift is in the giving” is a sweet sentiment, and although it feels great to see someone’s face light up when you give them something from the heart, the process of picking out those gifts can be grueling and time-consuming. Gifted RVA, a new business headed by Noelle Parent, aims to take the guess-work out of this process.
I first heard of this business from a friend of mine who works at Think 804, a local advertising agency that assisted Parent in the branding of her business. There was a launch party celebrating the establishment of Gifted, and I am never one to miss a party with free hors d’ouvres. A few of the snacks provided were local products featured in the boxes, like Capital Chips and Gunther’s Salsa Fresca. Attendees got to sneak a peek at some of the new boxes and meet a few local business owners, and I found myself really impressed at the amount of local products being utilized and supported. So, I reached out to Noelle to hear a little bit more about her business.
Parent has been working in the hospitality business for over thirteen years. Most recently, she worked at Quirk Hotel.
“People asked me all the time to help me with their welcome bags and gift baskets,” Parent told me. “They specifically wanted products from local businesses. I realized there was a demand for it.”
What is it that’s important in a gift? Almost everyone wants to get something that shows that someone was thinking of them. Something personal and thoughtful. “For me, I like something that’s meaningful and useful. I hate getting something that I’m just gonna put on a shelf or re-gift,” Parent said. “If it has special meaning, that’s important. It’s always great if they have an inside joke. One man gave his wife the Good Morning Box, which features maple syrup, pancake mix, coffee, because her nickname for him was Pancake.”
Handpicking the right local products was a learning experience for Parent. Not only should it be a product that her clients will enjoy, but she has to make sure the business is fully established, so the product is consistently available. They have to be willing and able to provide a product in large qualities. Additionally they have to find things to fit a theme. For their Unicorn Box, they had to find all unicorn products, in the thin pool of Richmond businesses.
“We got really lucky and found Gypsy Stars RVA, I found them on Etsy and they are all made by people with autism. The woman who runs it is very high-functioning, but some of the people she works with are not so high-functioning, so it’s nice that she provides this for them.”
Their top-selling box is the Chic Box, which features all woman-owned businesses. “It’s nice to be able to call these local businesses and say, ‘hey I need fifty orders of your product.’ It was great to make such a huge order to a local business,” Noelle told me.
One of the most glaring traits of Richmond is how supportive its residents are about supporting local businesses. Be it coffee, food, clothes, or hot sauce, we Richmonders tend to lean towards our own. Gifted RVA not only helps people buy gift boxes using primarily local products, but also helps to expand awareness and revenue to great lesser-known small RVA businesses.
Gifted RVA is as much about giving back to the community as it is giving to a loved one. Their Give Back Box does just that. Every product featured in the box gives some portion of its profits to a charity. Each stoneware mug in the box, from Mudlove RVA (a family branch from a business in Ohio, handmade) gives back to Water For Good, which gives clean water to people from the Central African Republic. Each mug is named after different extraordinary people who are working with the recipients in Africa to better their lives. There’s a business called Doo Bead Dooby Doo which makes aromatherapy bracelets, this box features a bracelet that gives ten percent of its profits to the Yeshua House, a transitional home for women and children in Petersburg. Each product of the box gives back in this way.
With every purchase of the Give Back Box, Gifted RVA provides a care package to Safe Harbor, who support the survivors of sexual and domestic violence.
Noelle has really proven that the gift is in the giving, because her business helps people give love to their friends and family, give to local businesses, and give back to their community. And that, truly, is something I can get behind.
*This article is NOT sponsored and I received zero gifts. I just like to highlight local entrepreneurs who are doing exciting things!