Episode 120

Episode 120: The Power Of Strategic Gift Giving with Jennifer O’Hare of Belle Box Co.

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What you’ll learn in this episode:

For those of you that have been listening to the podcast for a while, you know that gifting is one of my love languages. I truly believe that when gifting is done right, especially for our clients and colleagues, it can be one of the most powerful tools in your business for growth, loyalty, and retention (and a win-win-win experience every time).

In today’s episode I sit down with Jennifer O’Hare, the President & CEO of Belle Box Co., a corporate gifting company that helps businesses and organizations build meaningful connections and create memorable experiences, to talk about her experience as an entrepreneur and how she helps her clients utilize gifting as a powerful part of their business strategy.

Gifting can be one of the most powerful strategic assets in your business approach, serving to nurture customer relationships, bolster brand recognition, and foster employee loyalty. By incorporating thoughtful gifts into your strategy, you can express appreciation to customers and employees, strengthen partnerships, and elevate brand visibility. This can be achieved through customer appreciation programs, personalized gifting, and corporate social responsibility-driven initiatives. To maximize the impact of gifting, it’s crucial to measure outcomes and adapt your strategy accordingly.

Take a listen to this powerful episode with Jen, and if you’re looking to make gifting a part of your strategic plan, make sure you check out how to connect with Jen in the show notes!

In this episode, you will learn to:

  • Gifting can enhance customer loyalty, employee engagement, and brand awareness.
  • Personalization and data-driven approaches are essential for effective gifting.
  • Having a plan and making it a part of your business strategy and plan (and not an afterthought or something just thrown in), is essential for effective gifting.
  • Measuring the impact of gifting initiatives is crucial for ongoing strategy refinement.

Mentioned in this episode:

Jennifer O’Hare on LinkedIn

Belle Box Co. on Instagram

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About Jennifer O’Hare

Jennifer O’Hare is a multi-passionate entrepreneur with 18 years of experience as a retail & merchandising expert and strategic gifting partner. She spent 14 years mastering merchandising & strategy development at the TJX Companies, sourced over $700M worth of product, and has worked with hundreds of clients on developing bespoke gifting and retail strategies that elevate brands and align with business goals. She is currently a retail industry consultant to fortune 500 companies and the founder of Belle Box Co, a corporate gifting company that helps businesses and organizations build meaningful connections and create memorable experiences.

Jessica Miller (00:01)

Hey Jen, welcome to the show, we’re so excited to have you here.

Jen (00:04)

Thanks Jess, it was great to be here. Excited to share with your audience today.

Jessica Miller (00:09)

Yes, they’re going to love this. For the audience, can you introduce yourself, tell them who you are, what your business is?

Jen (00:15)

Sure. Hi everybody, my name is Jennifer O’Hare. I am the founder and CEO of Bell Box Co., which is a heart-centered luxury gifting business. And I am also a expert retail strategist.

Jessica Miller (00:32)

I love this. And so Jen, you and I have known each other for a while, and I know that you didn’t start in this place, that you were doing other things, and that something prompted you to become an entrepreneur. So tell us a little bit about what you did before you were an entrepreneur, and what made you become an entrepreneur.

Jen (00:49)

Oh yes, oh the journey. Yes, so like you mentioned, I did spend the better part of my career in corporate America. I was a retail, a senior retail merchant for the TJX organizations. And that was, I always tell people that was like the dream job. It was made for me. I am very split down the middle in terms of right and left brain.

I love the analytics, I love the creative thinking and the critical thinking, and then I love to be hands-on and creative. And so when I found that career coming out of school, I was like, this is built for me, this is amazing. I can’t, and it allowed me to travel, and it allowed me to be in some rooms with some great retail industry leaders.

Jessica Miller (01:32)

Hmm

Jen (01:42)

And it was just the most amazing experience until it got really difficult and I started a family. So the most part I spent, you know, I spent my years kind of climbing that corporate ladder within the merchandising realm of TJX and traveled all over the world. And like I said, really got to be a part of some amazing things. But I met my husband.

Jessica Miller (01:50)

Mm-hmm.

Jen (02:12)

And we got married pretty early, around 26. And we waited. We were just talking about how we, him and I traveled the world together. We did a lot of traveling before we had children and that was purposeful. And then when we decided it was time to have a family, we did everything in our power to make it work for us. So we knew my schedule was very challenging. We knew his schedule was very challenging. My husband is a Lieutenant on the fire department and he does…

Jessica Miller (02:32)

Mm-hmm.

Jen (02:41)

He’s a real estate agent on the side. So understanding that I was traveling sometimes weekly during certain times of the year, and he was overnight. We knew we were going to need a huge support system. So we moved closer. We had originally bought a house out in Natick, but then we had moved closer back to my family for that support system. And that worked for a short period of time. For the first kid.

Jessica Miller (02:47)

Yeah.

Jessica Miller (02:53)

Yep.

Jen (03:07)

And then even for the second child that came three years, like perfectly planned three years later, that really worked. And we were like, okay, we can do this. It’s really difficult. There’s some weird transition times where we have to have sitters come over at like 4.30 in the morning so I could catch a ride and he didn’t get home till eight. And it was just logistically challenging. However, for the better of our relationship and the better of like,

Jessica Miller (03:07)

right?

Jessica Miller (03:13)

Right?

Jen (03:36)

my fulfillment and happiness and purpose, I was like determined to make it work. And what happened was, I had a third, and I had a third in a very short period of time. It was only, they’re only 17 months apart. And that just completely threw our, everything for a loop. It was really challenging to have three under four and a half years old.

Jessica Miller (03:42)

Hmm. Sure. Oh my gosh, rock star.

Jen (04:05)

with the schedules that we were leading. And it just, right after I had my third, I kind of started getting into a lot of personal development work. And I had, just to be very frank and honest and authentic with your audience, I struggled with postpartum depression for a very long period of time. And so what helped me get through was not only a lot of therapy, but also diving into personal development and really trying to understand this, without losing myself in this new role of being a mother of three. And I know that the toddler and baby stages don’t last forever, but regardless, how am I able to kind of show up as me? And…It’s my authentic self and you know in the ways that I want to show up not only Professionally, but personally and not only just for my family, but for my colleagues and then also for my extended family How am I how can I do that? and For me, I wasn’t really you know I don’t think I really understood the value of self-care of true self-care at that time So I did a lot of deep work

Jessica Miller (05:01)

Mm-hmm.

Jessica Miller (05:08)

Yeah. And for you as an individual, for yourself.

Jessica Miller (05:17)

Mm, mhm, mhm.

Jen (05:21)

And that eventually led me into starting my own business. And at the time, I’m not even sure if Jess, if you know this, but maybe, maybe you know this. But at the time I was, I started a subscription box, but it wasn’t any subscription box. It was a subscription box for mothers. And the theme was always, every month was a different self-care theme. So it was.

Jessica Miller (05:37)

Mm-hmm.

Jessica Miller (05:48)

Oh my gosh.

Jen (05:49)

It was this idea that self-care isn’t just getting your nails done and working out, right? It’s, there’s so many more elements that go into self-care and it can be, it should be looked at as a holistic, from a holistic level. So it was a subscription box, but it was also coupled with a little bit of like NLP coaching and like all of that. And I would bring certain guest experts in to kind of speak to this group of mothers and they would get.

Jessica Miller (05:54)

Mmm, mhm.

Jen (06:17)

you know, they would get a perfect package, like thoughtfully curated, that went along with that theme for the month. So that was an amazing, I did that alongside my corporate career. We entered into a pandemic during this time. My kids at that point were coming home and being homeschooled. So there was a lot going on and that subscription box never took off. It was, it just never stuck.

Jessica Miller (06:20)

Mm-hmm.

Jessica Miller (06:32)

Mm-hmm.

Jen (06:48)

And I’m not sure if it was because, it just didn’t seem scalable, eh? And then I wasn’t sure if it was because of the audience. I wasn’t sure if it was because I wasn’t putting any, I wasn’t putting any money behind advertising. So there were a lot of, there was a lot of like soul searching there and trying to figure out like, what am I doing here? And then, you know, and then eventually,

Jessica Miller (06:53)

Mm. Yeah.

Jen (07:14)

I actually pivoted the business into gifting. And we can talk a little bit, I don’t know if you want me to elaborate on how that actually happened, but.

Jessica Miller (07:20)

Yeah, absolutely. We want to hear it because a lot of people listening to this podcast, it’s a long and winding road. And what we start out with is often not where we end up. So yeah, Cher, what made you, well, it sounds like it wasn’t kind of gaining traction. And so you were soul searching and thinking, okay, well, maybe there’s something else I’m supposed to be doing or what made you actually pivot and how did you pivot?

Jen (07:43)

Yeah, so it wasn’t gaining traction and I decided that I would go into Mother’s Day. Mother’s Day was coming up. It was really December when I was thinking about this and I was like, what am I going to do for Mother’s Day? What, you know, if I’m planning those themes out at least six months, that’s where I was, that’s where I was headed. It was like, okay, what am I doing for Mother’s Day at this point? What am I doing for May and June? And started to think there’s got to be more to this. Like there has to be more as much as I want to show up for these moms in this way of bringing in guest experts, bringing them together as a community, right? That was really important. At the end of the day, they were moms in a pandemic who did not, most of them professional, most of them working. They didn’t have any time to spare, right? And so I had to be understanding of that as well as like, how do I meet them where

Jessica Miller (08:35)

Mm-hmm.

Jen (08:39)

where they are, right? That’s really the question I was asking myself. How do I meet them where they are? And the one thing we all had in common outside of, no, nobody was actually practicing holistic self-care, was that everybody was trying to keep their, for lack of better words, ship together and show up for their circle, right? And so whether that meant their neighborhood bestie, right? Or…

Jessica Miller (08:39)

That’s right. Yep.

Jessica Miller (08:50)

Mm-hmm.

Jen (09:03)

the mom who is now going through a divorce because pandemic hit, and they’re stuck in a house together. Or it was the teachers that are running their homeschooling programs and working so hard during like in school, hybrid, all the things. How are they showing up for their circle? That was a common question that came up within our circle of mothers, I guess. And so I was like, well, Mother’s Day is a perfect time to celebrate and do this next level of gifting. People are always looking for different ways, really meaningful, thoughtful ways to show up for their circle of friends and family. So I was like, I’m going to launch a limited edition. It’s just going to be issues to be purely limited-edition boxes with a focus on the aesthetic and the thoughtfully curated items inside.

Jessica Miller (09:55)

Mm-hmm.

Jen (09:58)

that do not belong to a theme, it’s just that they are thoughtfully curated from other small businesses, they might be thoughtfully curated from women-owned businesses or mother-owned businesses. So I just decided to do two limited edition boxes, put them on the website and they blew out.

Jessica Miller (10:19)

Yes, oh my gosh, can we just pause for a second? I love this so much, okay, because this is such an important thing that I want to point out here. Many people, when they hit this point where something’s not working, and they’re kind of scrambling mentally, you know, and they feel like they need to pivot or do something different, what they usually do is blow up their whole business. Right? It’s like, blow the thing up. Like, I need to redo my website, I need to change all my messaging, and I’m always telling people, like,

Jen (10:39)

Yes. Hahaha. Yeah.

Jessica Miller (10:49)

No, you can keep things constant, keep it simple, and you can dial something up, which is essentially what you did. You said, I’m not going to like blow this whole thing up, but I have this intuitive hit. Part of the journey is understanding your ideal customer and understanding what they need. And so I’m going to take this thing and I’m going to beta test it, and I’m going to let the market decide or show me the data behind this thing. And so you did and bam, here’s the data. Okay, continue. I just had to like pause.

for a moment of silence here because it’s so good.

Jen (11:21)

And you’re absolutely right, because I was actually, I still continue to ship my monthly shipments to my subscribers. So it was really a throw some spaghetti at the wall, let’s beta test it, let’s meet them where they’re at. They’re definitely requesting things. Like I was getting other off or inquiries and requests for things that were outside of a subscription box. They were really, it was really about a gift.

Jessica Miller (11:26)

Uh-huh.

Jen (11:48)

And I was like well, I’m going to launch this will be like an intentional launch. I’ll put a little bit of email marketing behind it I’ll do you know I’ll promote it on Instagram and my social channels and just see how it goes and it’s completely Outside of the subscription, so you do not have to you know you’re not just on Yeah, exactly you’re you don’t have to subscribe For a length of time. It’s just completely outside of that and I

Jessica Miller (11:55)

Right.

Jessica Miller (12:02)

Yes, right. Be a subscriber.

Jen (12:13)

took on limited inventory because my entire career was in inventory management. So limited inventory, I really didn’t worry about, to be very frank, I didn’t really worry about the profit margins. I was like, I priced it where I thought it would sell, where I thought my customer, it would appeal to my customer in my audience. And it was because it was a beta test, it was like, just let’s see if there’s a fit here.

Jessica Miller (12:18)

Right. Mm-hmm. Yes.

Jen (12:42)

product market fit. So and there was and it really sparked something in me because I was like, oh my goodness Okay, this might be something I continued with my subscription for another couple months, but I Right after the Mother’s Day. I started instantly getting requests for Projects. So the first one was a baby shower

Jessica Miller (13:04)

Yes. Yeah.

Jen (13:09)

we were still virtual at that point. It was a virtual baby shower. They wanted to send little kits and gifts to every attendee that was going to be on Zoom with them. Something that was engaging, yes, something that is something that was engaging, but also, you know, that acted like a little memento and keepsake for the guests that were attending. So I did that one. And then I got another request for a bridal party. And I did.

Jessica Miller (13:20)

I remember this. I totally remember this. Yeah.

Jessica Miller (13:35)

Mm-hmm.

Jen (13:37)

the bridal party gifts. And then from there I was like, all right, like something’s got to give. And I really had a lot of turmoil around, it wasn’t easy to say, I’m just going to give up this subscription. I felt like I was letting people down. I felt like I had built something and I did build, it was a very small community, but I did build a community around it.

Jessica Miller (13:54)

Sure.

Jen (14:06)

So it was really hard to pivot. And I felt a little bit of shame around like, this didn’t work, you know? This model didn’t work, it didn’t stick. But then leveraging all of my experience, right? And being part of an opportunistic company, which the entire point of being part of opportunistic retail is that they can turn on a dime.

Jessica Miller (14:08)

Hmm.

Jessica Miller (14:13)

Oh yeah. Mm-hmm.

Jessica Miller (14:33)

Yes.

Jen (14:33)

and they listen to their customer, and they listen to them frequently and often. And they have the agility and their fluid to be able to not only switch up their floor, but to be able to switch up all of their buying plans, to be able to switch up all their inventory management. And it’s designed that way. And it’s designed to not only take advantage of opportunities in the market, which is what essentially, I was doing, right. But then to also meet their customer needs that are happening right now.

Jessica Miller (14:36)

Yep.

Jessica Miller (14:55)

Mm-hmm.

Jessica Miller (15:02)

Yes, and I think one thing that I want to point out, and you made a mention earlier when you pivoted to the Mother’s Day box, that beta box, you mentioned that you were essentially like throwing spaghetti at the wall, but I actually want to offer that is not what you were doing. You actually were making a very calculated decision based on your experience, your intuition, listening to your customer and following the market.

Jen (15:03)

So.

Jen (15:19)

Mm.

Jessica Miller (15:29)

And I think this is a really important piece because I’ll just say for the sake of argument that in the female entrepreneur community, a lot of times we don’t talk a lot about data. We are not following the numbers. We’re not managing the inventory, especially for brick and mortars. Like the inventory is in my opinion, like the thing that is going to make or break you. It’s really important. So being able to understand your margins, understand the market, understand the people, make those choices with a good financial lens to the process, allows you to your point to take risks, but not crazy risks like I’m jumping off of a cliff here. It’s a calculated risk. And then you’re collecting the data and you’re making the next best decision. And I have found that is the fastest way for people to grow because they are looking at essentially what’s happening in their customer journey, what is working, where is there an opportunity to optimize that or make it better or different? And then they’re plugging that in and they’re getting essentially feedback. And then they’re looking at that and they’re making the next decision. So the first pivot was, it brought you to the Mother’s Day box. Then the next pivot was the baby shower. And then you have this data and now you’re like, oh my gosh, the bridal shower. Here we are, right? It’s like living the dream there.

Jen (15:51)

sure is. Great. Yep.

Jessica Miller (16:53)

Okay, so tell us what happened after that. But I just wanted to mention that, because I don’t think that you were flying by the seat of your pants, but it can feel like that, and people can feel like that. But really it’s following your heart, your clients, and the needs of the market.

Jen (17:07)

And I don’t even think, like to your point, I don’t think I was giving myself enough credit in terms of, wow, I have 17 years of experience in this. I wasn’t giving myself enough credit because I just couldn’t look outside myself at that point. I was in it. So I was like, I just need to, all I needed to know was I needed to move. I needed to do it. And I would have regretted it if I didn’t do it, even if it didn’t work. So.

Jessica Miller (17:12)

Of course, yes.

Jessica Miller (17:23)

Right, you’re in it. You’re in it, yeah.

Jessica Miller (17:29)

Yes. Mm-hmm. Totally. Yeah.

Jen (17:36)

Yeah, so after that, yes, those decisions to the Mother’s Day box and the baby shower and eventually the bridal party informed me that this was really what my customer was asking of me. And I could really show up and deliver something that felt so much more aligned with not only what my customer wanted in terms of meeting her where she was at, but also…

Jessica Miller (17:49)

Mm-hmm.

Jen (18:03)

aligned with me as a person and aligned with how I show up in general and how my value to the world. Right. And it took a lot of, like I had to really dig deep for that one because I was like, why isn’t this working? I don’t understand what is wrong. Why I feel shameful of like giving up on this subscription model. But at the end of the day, after all this was done, I reflected on a meeting. After we pivoted the business, we rebranded, we renamed, and we relaunched as a gifting business, but it wasn’t until months later that I was like, wow, that was so… I reflected back on the only reason why I went into the subscription model was because I knew people in that field. I knew people in the industry and it seemed like, okay, this is what the mass market wanted. But at the end of the day, I’ve never been mass market.

I’ve always been more bespoke. I’ve always been the one that likes to work direct with clients, with customers. Weirdly enough, working for such a large organization, a $40 billion company, I was the one that was like, okay, we’re going to create little capsules and assortments within smaller markets of stores, smaller clusters of brick-and-mortar stores. And if I could, I’d be the one traveling, you know, traveling the US, visiting all the markets and engaging with the customers in the store to hear that direct feedback. And that is something that like, I had to get to a place where I was like, that’s a superpower, right? Like, that is superpower, the intention behind what I’m doing, the idea that I am like constantly engaging with my customer in many facets in many different ways. And that I love it. And I can easily take that and then figure out what to do next with it.

Jessica Miller (19:39)

100% absolutely. Mm-hmm.

Jessica Miller (19:59)

Yes, totally.

Jen (20:00)

to make the experience to make the, you know, whatever it is, whatever I’m launching, the experience, the product, whatever, the offer, better. So it took me a long time to say, okay, I jumped into the subscription model because I knew people in the industry, because it seemed mass market, because I felt like I could grow easily. When that didn’t work, I started to realign myself with how I really, the value I can really bring, which is 100% this bespoke gifting, creating luxury gifting experiences that elevate, now elevate your organization and brand. But at the time, just elevate the overall experience of receiving a gift.

Jessica Miller (20:44)

Yeah, totally. I love it. And you know, it’s interesting because just listening to you on this podcast, and I’m sure the listeners will hear this too. Even you talking about your subscription boxes and you talking about this now, it’s completely different energy. It’s totally different. And this is really the power of it being held yes for you. And we sometimes it’s like the thing we forget about. But it’s everything right? It’s the thing that creates all that momentum.

Jen (20:58)

Yeah, there’s a lot more energy.

Jen (21:08)

I know.

Jessica Miller (21:12)

And I think it’s actually like the gateway drug to creativity because when you’re in there, there’s so much hope and you feel like everything’s possible and you marry all those analytics and all the energy and you’re like, okay, the sky’s the limit. How do I make this work? It becomes more of like, what if this could work rather than being bogged down in all the how? Like you may not know how, but you’re in the energy of hell yes and what if, and you’re just moving with it. So yeah, that realignment is really important, and it propelled you forward.

Jen (21:35)

You’re moving.

Jessica Miller (21:40)

And you got really steeped in this high-end gifting. And not only just the product high-end gifting, but to your point, you just said it, the experience of high-end gifting. So can you talk about that a little bit? Like, what does it mean to give someone a high-end gift experience, and how should people think about that? Because a lot of people on this podcast, well, pretty much all of them are business owners, but a lot of them really value that interaction with their customer and their brand. So this is really important in that capacity.

Jen (22:10)

So when you’re gifting, like, and again, this is again going back to the realignment that I had, just thinking back on how I really want to show up for people and how I love nurturing my relationships and diversifying how I show up for people and when I show up for people and how that is, how I navigate that. And so a lot of gifting is really about nurturing and showing up for your relationships and your connections, whether you’re whether they’re existing relationships or you’re developing new connections and new relationships, right? It can work in both ways. And so when we think about luxury gifting, it’s really, I really, I really encourage people to think about it and approach it intentionally. And it’s, there is strategy, right? My right and left brain. There is a strategic way to approach gifting, especially when it’s business to business, client to client, right?

Jessica Miller (22:56)

Yeah. Mm-hmm.

Jen (23:07)

when you’re thinking about that, but it all starts with intentionality and how you want your client, your employee, whoever you’re gifting, your recipient, how you want them to feel about not just the gift, but about the importance you’re putting on that relationship. Right? And that’s what the gift should say. That’s the story it’s telling your recipient. And so if you’re approaching it with intentionality before you jump into

Jessica Miller (23:11)

Hmm.

Jen (23:36)

What business objectives? What is the ROI? What’s the strategy behind it? And what’s the budget? Because that’s the next best thing is like, okay, well, what’s the budget? Start with the intentionality and approach it that way around how you want them to feel, what type of importance you’re putting on this relationship and that will inform the rest of the strategy. So for me, that’s really how I think about gifting and that’s really what we preach here at Bell Box Co is.

Jessica Miller (23:43)

Mm-hmm. Totally.

Jen (24:05)

It’s really about starting with the intentionality and thinking about the importance of that relationship.

Jessica Miller (24:10)

Yeah, I love it. And that’s such a huge, this is so true in so many pieces of business. It’s like, you start with the end in mind. I think that was like a Stephen Covey, like seven habits, right? It’s like, what is the result? And what’s the thing that you really want? And how do you reverse engineer that? Because that will inform what kind of gift you send and how much it will cost and all the things. I also think people connecting to their why, and that result brings to the surface, the value behind it, like, it’s not just about what you put in it and how much it costs. It’s about the experience. And if they can connect with that, it also allows them, I think, to maybe take a risk or spend a little bit more or curate a box that’s more custom at a higher level. They’re kind of, what’s the word, like upleveling. And so is the experience. And I think that’s a really important piece for people who have companies and brands that want to deliver that kind of a message. So when you went into really building that framework around gifting. And then you kind of took Bell Box to the next level. What did the boxes now, what do they look like and how did you put all that together and what are you finding is working for you in the business now and especially now as we move into the holidays.

Jen (25:28)

So when I first relaunched as Belle Box, it was during Q4 and I, again, similar, just leveraging experience, didn’t really know what I didn’t know. I did know that I wanted to be much more custom focused and working directly with clients versus being an e-commerce brand. But at the end of the day, I had a website I needed to launch with something so that people could kind of understand the value that we were putting out there. And we launched with like 10 boxes on the website and we did very well, but we

in terms of e-commerce. But what happened was I actually did get a decent amount of inquiries that fall for corporate orders, and whether those are corporate orders for the holidays, but also in conjunction with events. So I did a speaker appreciation gift order. I did some holiday gifting. I did some New Year’s gifting. So there was a lot that was coming down the pipe. And that’s when I kind of instantly realized, this is what feeds my soul, is working directly with a client and understanding their vision. And whatever that vision is, whether it’s just to show, not saying just to show, but show appreciation, retain clients, gain referrals, sales prospecting, whatever, or maybe they’re launching a new brand or a new offer, right? Whatever that is, I can take that vision and be an extension of their team, per se, and that and I can deliver it within a gift, right? And so in terms of a physical object. So I loved that part of it. And so what I think you see on the site today, there’s still so much intentionality around our packaging.

Jen (27:16)

You know, we definitely, we started with the signature box. It’s still a big part, a signature vessel, I should say. It’s still a really large part of what we put out there. It’s a white pine wooden box, and it’s sourced actually from a supplier in Vermont. And I worked really hard to source that and develop it with the supplier. So that’s why it’s our signature box and it will always be on the site. And it offers a really elevated way to personalize that box because we have in-house capabilities in terms of engraving and personalization. So again, you’ll see that that’s kind of where we launched with even from Mother’s Day, it was in a wooden box and we’re still there today. So a lot of just the way that we offer customizations and personalization is a little bit different, right? So we’ve moved from, oh, just, you know, you’re personalizing with just the name to we can personalize with all other different through all these other different avenues and whether that is you’re putting your clients logo on the actual box right now you’re really showing up in a way that it’s like it’s not about me it’s about you right the gift is about you so we can engrave logos on the boxes it can be as simple as you know you can have your brick your branded gift tag on a box but the second you put somebody’s name on it really it really makes this unforgettable impression because they know it was designed for them. So we’ve now gone down this avenue of yes we still have curated items or curated gifts on the site, pre-curated gifts on the site ready to ship.

Jessica Miller (28:23)

Mmm. Mm-hmm. Right.

Correct.

Jen (29:02)

For the most part, what we do is work directly with our clients and customers. And a lot of it is ideation. We’ll brainstorm and kind of understand, like I said, their goals. And then we develop custom concepts, exclusive concepts to them, and all the way down to sourcing and distribution strategy. So that’s what you kind of see today with the level of pre-curated, ready to ship gifts on the website.

Jessica Miller (29:30)

Yeah, I love it. And that kind of brings, you know, to the surface what you were talking about before with meeting your customers where they’re at and being able to pivot. Because sometimes people need things like tomorrow and they just need to go on the site and they know you’re there familiar with their brand, they just want to order the thing. But then for many of us and many of us that are listening on this podcast, the client experience is really important. That feeling that they have when they work with you.

Whether it is a $100 offer that you have with your customers or a $5,000 offer, the lasting impression that you make with somebody through gifting, through touching those customers, I think people sometimes forget how much that deepens the relationship. So there’s the value that comes from the relationship and how you can really nourish that over time.

But the other part is the ROI, just the financial impact that touching your clients, having it be personal, they remember how they feel, they remember those pieces. And so having a bespoke gifting strategy that is in line with your brand, that is aligned with your client, because at the end of the day, it’s their experience, not yours, even though I’m going to go out on a limb because gifting is my love language and I know it’s yours too.

I mean, I hate to say it really is about me half the time because I do love it. So I do, it’s this amazing win-win. And I think that’s the other piece of it is that I’ll just speak for myself that until I came across people like you, gifting was an anxiety provoking experience because I didn’t want something that was cookie cutter. It wasn’t quite speaking to my client and it wasn’t quite speaking to my soul. So I would go through this. I mean, I wish there could be a fly on the wall of me like going through these like, you know, e-commerce sites, like trying to find the thing. And I’m like, “Oh, I hate the box.” Or like, “Oh, I don’t like that”. You know, it would take, I would be like agonizing over it and you can get rid of all of that. And the investment in the outcome, the time, the client retention, the long-term value, and just the impact that you have on people is really important. And I think that’s at the heart of your brand, which allows you to really connect with your clients. I mean, they feel it. The people that receive those gifts feel it going down literally to the box, which I think is sometimes the thing that people forget about, right? It’s like wrapping. I’m like, oh my gosh, it’s everything. And I have given Belle Box boxes to my clients and they’ll write to me and say, oh my gosh, I just want to keep the box, you know? Like that experience of opening that package and the smell of it and all of it. And so it’s such a beautiful thing.

Jen (30:54.)

But you love it, yeah.

Jen (31:45)

Yes. Thank you.

Jen (32:03)

Right?

Jessica Miller (32:18)

And then you’re able to take all of that and really infuse it into these events that are cyclical. So now the holidays are coming up and you’ve taken all of that and now you’ve got this beautiful holiday collection. And talk about the holiday collection because it’s just fabulous. Looks amazing.

Jen (32:34)

Yeah, thank you. So this is our third season in holiday slash Q4. When you’re in a product-based business, and we’re product and service-based, but when you’re in a product-based business, you’re really in holiday all year long. Like you’re thinking about holiday, right? And obviously a gifting business, it’s a large piece of our revenue. But.

Jessica Miller (32:50)

Never…

Jen (32:59)

Regardless, we do start thinking, we’ve recapped from year after year, because this is our third, so we’ve had two under our belt, and really trying to understand what that consumer wants, either from a holiday catalog, which we launched earlier, and the benefit of buying earlier with the holiday catalog is that obviously you secure a spot on our production calendar, which is we’re in the middle. It’s 11. It’s November 29th right now we are in the thick of it, right? So in less than three weeks. We pump out, you know 50% of the gifts that we do all year long. So it’s a large amount.

So yes the benefit of working early and on the holiday catalog not only for you to just kind of like, All right I know that this is all taken care of and I know it’s thoughtfully curated” and they understand the personalization and customizations, right? There’s all of that can be done a lot earlier. There’s a lot available to you in terms of customizing and personalization, which we just talked about goes a very long way in terms of the client experience. So that’s the benefit of working the holiday catalog earlier. So we launched that a couple months ago.

Jessica Miller (33:36)

amazing.

Jen (34:10)

And now it’s really the holiday collection that you can just go right online and shop under our gift collection and those gifts are ready to ship. There’s still a level a small level of personalization and we are really great about just reaching out. We offer next level customer service. So we are all about that concierge level of customer service. So if there’s something that you’re eyeing you see it on my Instagram. You’ve seen it on LinkedIn, You’re seeing it on my stories, and you’re like I don’t see it on your site. Just email me, message me. We’re in our DMs all the time. I am happy to work with you because that is really at the end of the day, we’re offering that luxury experience so that you feel it, right? It’s really tailored to the request and meeting people where they’re at. So you can shop the holiday collection on the site. There’s, like I said, a level of personalization, but happy to discuss other options.

Jessica Miller (34:42)

Yeah.

Jessica Miller (35:06)

Yeah. And I think for some of us, I think people go back and forth. Do I send a holiday gift? Do I not? Does it really matter, all those things? What are your thoughts around that? Because I think sometimes people sort of deliberate over it.

Jen (35:18)

Oh yeah, they definitely do.

And I did want to mention too about the holiday, sorry, going back to the holiday collection, you hadn’t asked, I didn’t answer this, but you had asked how I developed those concepts. So a lot of what we do is still like trend forecasting and understanding the trends in our customer insights. And then we take them, not only that, but also looking at past year’s history. And we take that past year’s history and we say, okay, we know this worked, we know this worked, and how are we innovating? And how are we up-leveling what worked? Does it feel stale, right? It still feels bespoke. And then how do we merge that with the trends and the trends need to make sense for us, right? So sustainability, huge trend amongst many industries, right? So we’ll point out that our signature packaging is a keepsake and it’s generally not tossed as you know because you’ve given many of them just they are not tossed out. That is the most sustainable packaging that you can offer somebody. They are reused time and time again. They’re great for personalization. So we will point that out right how many of or we will plan and strategize how many are gifts going to be? Presented in these in the wooden boxes now, obviously that comes with the cost more expensive, but on the flip side, we’ve developed a beautiful premium paper two-piece box which is still gorgeous and a lot of people are reusing those as well. Yes, so with that said, we are following sustainability, the sustainability practices and trends, but then there’s all sorts of other trends that go into gifting. Like you just mentioned, you just mentioned that gifting is your love language, which I already know.

Jessica Miller (36:43)

Mm-hmm.

Jessica Miller (36:46)

Myself included. I love them.

Jen (37:06)

The funny part is, is getting… Yes.

Jessica Miller (37:07)

Everybody knows.

Jen (37:09)

Gifting is not my love language, which is interesting. My love language is quality of time, which is what I associate with experiences. So which gifting in itself is an experience, right? It’s how we just talked about that, how you’re creating an experience for that recipient when they receive the box. And so one of the biggest trends right now in gifting in general is offering an experience. But an experience doesn’t have to just be tickets to a concert, right? It can be.

Jessica Miller (37:18)

Mmm.

Jen (37:39)

It’s all encompassing, it’s comprehensive. So it’s like one of our gifts on the site right now is called Pizza Night. And it’s all about making memories during pizza night, right? Like we’re gonna, you have, you know, you have, we’re hitting on your vegan and keto friendly pizza dough mix. And then we have like a really niche and novel bicycle pizza cutter that most people don’t have in their cabinet right now, you know? And so it’s really about sending that message that it’s, it’s about a monumental experience.

Jessica Miller (37:40)

Yeah. I love it.

Jen (38:09)

that you’re going, that person, whoever receives that, is not doing that alone. Ha ha ha.

Jessica Miller (38:13)

Right, exactly.

Jen (38:14)

They’re taking in partners, family, friends, and they’re making it an experience. And so that’s kind of how we, when we go into planning our gifts and how we’re going to show up in our gift collection for holiday or anything else outside of holiday, it really starts with merging what we know about the business and consumer insights, right? But then also merging that with trends that make sense for our customer. Yeah.

Jessica Miller (38:18)

Mm-hmm.

Jessica Miller (38:40)

Yeah, that makes total sense. Yeah, and to touch on that point about time, I think it’s a really valuable resource for everybody and I know it is for me too. And that’s the other beauty, in my opinion, about gifting is that gift is working without me. When I send it, I am, and I really think people are buying confidence when they buy gifts from someone because they are confident that when that gift goes to somebody else, they’re going to love it.

Jen (38:55)

Right, it is.

Jen (39:07)

They’re going to love it.

Jessica Miller (39:08)

And that is the thing. I mean, I really, I don’t know if people understand that, but when you purchase from someone, there’s a huge amount of trust that’s going into that purchase because how the person feels and the probability that they’re going to be wowed by that and love it and it’s going to be on point for you is super high when you’re buying from someone who’s aligned and knows what they’re doing and creates amazing things. And it saves me a ton of time. And for anyone, I’m going to stand on my soapbox and say, probably for anybody who’s your client, that’s also what they’re buying because they know they’ve put in the time, they have the relationship with you. It’s very strategic and customized so we can sleep and know it’s going to be great. And that’s a big piece. Right. Exactly. I love this. Oh my gosh, Jen, I could sit here and talk to you about this all day long and I’m sure everyone else could too.

Jen (39:52)

know what will be handled.

Jen (39:59)

I know.

Jessica Miller (40:01)

But we would love to know where we can find you on the interwebs, you know, when people want to reach out and see your beautiful boxes or what you’re doing, where can they look?

Jen (40:10)

Yes, absolutely. So we are on Instagram at @belleboxco. And then I’m in my DMs quite often, but you can also just reach out to me direct through email, jennifer@belleboxco.com. And you can visit our website at www.belleboxco.com.

Jessica Miller (40:29)

I love it. Jen, thank you so much for being here to share with the audience and to really support us and make an amazing experience for both your clients and their clients. Such a gift. And for everybody listening to the podcast, I hope you take all of this, you think about your holiday gifting, you think about gifting in general, how it can enhance your customer experience and really, really make your business more powerful and how it’s a really important part of your income stream and how to think about the strategy for your business. So, until next week, everyone, thanks for joining.

Jen (40:32)

Thanks, Jess.