More and new are two of my favorite words when it comes to gift basket products, but before I get to that, I have more news (see what I did there?) to share from the National Gift Basket Convention. Attending the event is inspiring enough, but this year I was honored to be on staff as one of a dozen instructors and teach a class to my fellow gift basket company owners. I also brought home third place honors in the Hotel & Hospitality design category. New products keep arriving, and we invite you to watch our unboxing Wednesday on Facebook. Until then!
We beer you loud and clear! Wine not make our gift baskets more pun? That’s right, we now offer elegant selections of reds, whites, rosés, and bubblies, and craft beer from local Chicagoland breweries. You know us–we don’t stop there. We pair these new additions with delicious, sweet and savory snacks to complete the perfect basket.
We are adding new designs to the website everyday – if nothing catches your eye, give us a call!
It’s been 20 years since I started this little business called BasketWorks, and I want to thank everyone who has been part of our success. This isn’t the Oscars, so I won’t name names; you know who you are.
But many of you might not know how BasketWorks got its start. I could see the dead-end sign at my bookstore job, and I needed something more flexible so I could take care of my then-toddler son and better manage my Crohn’s disease.
I had always wanted to own my own business, and I’d worked at a florist’s shop during college and graduate school, so I had some design experience. Since I’ve got a naturally artsy-crafty bent — and I’ve always wanted to own my own company — the gift-basket business grabbed my attention. I attended a conference, wrote out a business plan (and revised it several times) and went for it. BasketWorks was born in March 1997.
While I’ve received several awards for my basket designs through the years, I’m most proud of the work we’ve done to give back to the community, particularly the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation and the Northbrook Chamber of Commerce, where I received the volunteer of the year award in 2014.
To celebrate BasketWorks’ 20th anniversary, I crocheted 700 hearts for the Peyton Heart Project and sent them to clients and friends in our database. The Peyton Heart Project works to raise global awareness of bullying and suicide prevention, as well as to remove the stigma that envelops mental-health issues. These handmade hearts, which are left in public places, feature an attached note with a positive message to let people know that their lives matter.
This project is particularly important to me; I have long battled depression and people close to me have lost loved ones to suicide. If you didn’t receive a heart and would like one, please contact us with your snail mail address, and we will send it.
I love what I do for a living. I love helping my clients improve their business relationships, and I love making it easy for folks to recognize their friends’ and families’ important life events. Thank you for choosing BasketWorks for your corporate and personal gifts.
Lise & the team at
We understand that there is a given amount of wast from businesses. Here at BasketWorks are always working toward making our business and processes as green as possible. Things to know:
- We have always used recycled packing peanuts, cut up styrofoam or cellophane scraps in the base of our baskets. We accept clean packing peanuts and packing styrofoam from clients, friends and neighbors to use for this purpose. Please feel free to drop packing peanuts or other reusable packaging materials at our offices!
- We give away other items to keep them out of landfills. Items that are regularly available for pick include:
- empty wrapping paper tubes
- cardboard boxes of various sizes
- empty ribbon roll centers
- ribbon and silk flower scraps
- Cardboard that cannot be reused by other people is dropped at a recycling location.
- We know that not everyone can use or wants to keep a basket. Therefore we offer many of our designs in recyclable gift boxes or reusable containers instead of baskets.
We are always open to suggestions as to how to be more green! How are you green?
Recently I had the opportunity to bid on a big project – 3000 – 4000 pieces, which is really really big for me! My response was ‘Wow! Great! This is going to be fun!”
Then I heard the kicker; we needed to turn this entire project, from proposal to shipment in 5 days. OK. I can do that. (Not sure how I can do that, but that has never stopped me before, and I always get the job done).
I went into full court press on this one. I talked to the client about my concept. I called my vendors to check on immediate availability of product and supplies. I talked to UPS about special pickups at a different location. I found an immediately available location to rent for a week. I estimated very carefully how long it would take an untrained person to put a package together to my standards, and therefore how long the project would take to complete and how many labor hours I would need in 3 days. My spreadsheet was a thing of beauty.
Of course, I didn’t get the job. I was very disappointed, because I was quite psyched for the challenge of it all. But after a pause I decided I was o.k. with not getting the job. The client seemed very impressed with my ability to create a viable proposal in just a few hours and was happy with what I presented. I hold onto the hope that there may be a future opportunity from that same client. Even more important, I had a terribly good time in figuring all this out. It was like buying a lottery ticket – while I was planning and dreaming I was really enjoying myself, even if there was no payout at the end.
And that is definitely worth the time invested.
This weekend was the International Housewares Association Show, which is conveniently held here in Chicago (completely for my benefit, I am sure). I attend every year, trolling the aisles looking for a new idea, new trends, new products. Unfortunately, the gourmet section of the show was virtually non-existent this year – so nothing new and exciting there!
That said, I did find some things I am feeling enthusiastic about. One vendor had three! A cupcake maker that will make a single cupcake, from virtually any cake batter, in the microwave oven in under 2 minutes. A popcorn popper that will do 2-3 cups of popcorn in the microwave without oil. And a cup that will make a slushie in your hand in no time at all. I haven’t ordered these yet, but I am sorely tempted – very high on my super cool list.
A few people sent me on product hunts – I found several different melamine trays and bowls for one client – amazing the patterns that are available! And I have a full list of really nifty ideas for one of our real estate agents!
Themes and trends – copper is still going strong, both as an accent color and as a material in cookware. The sea and beach themes are big – whales, octopuses, sea shells and lighthouses. I have read that the ‘colors of the year’ are pastel blues and pinks, but that certainly wasn’t evident at the show.
I will be at the show one more day – Tuesday is a short day- looking to see if there was anything I missed the first time through and filling in a few of the areas I know I missed. Then it is down to reading the pile of catalogs and making the ideas turn into reality!
Valentine’s Day this week. Probably two dozen people have commented on how crazy busy I must be. Reality check – in my world Valentine’s Day is definitely what I would call a ‘lesser’ holiday. I have a half dozen or so orders for the holiday, and while more would be lovely, I don’t necessarily expect to be swamped. While Valentine’s is definitely a chocolate holiday, for me it tends not to be a chocolate-in-gift-baskets holiday.
That said, we did spend the week catching up after the gift show – replying to emails, doing the paperwork, and catalogs. Oy, do I have catalogs! I am very old school and I actually read all the paper catalogs that I bring home, sometimes 50 or more. Sourcing product for clients is a real pleasure for me and having read through a catalog, I can generally recall having seen something and put my hands on the right catalog. So I invest time in reading through them – and my staff invests time in filing them (thanks Betsy!)
So if you have a project coming up and are looking for something special let me know – I am happy to see if one of my vendors carries it.
(PS. This is the fifth blog I have written this week – the first three were awful and I spared you the pain of reading them and the fourth was a duplicate of last week’s blog. I know this is late, but it is still this week! Whew!)
The title of the blog is a bit misleading, implying that I am away from home. The reality is that the Chicago Gift Show is on and I am attending for three days (yesterday, today and tomorrow). Advantages and disadvantages to all things – the local show is small and lightly attended, meaning that while I always find nifty new items, there is not the diversity I would find at a larger show. The clear advantage is that I am able to be home each evening and keep everything here at HQ running smoothly. (Ok, that cracks me up. HQ…)
I am looking at some fun new ideas – Batman looks to be a big up and coming thing, and of course Star Wars and Star Trek continue to be strong. Dr.Who items are becoming easier and easier to find. Adult coloring books are being published everywhere – clearly this is the hot trend. I am going to try to post to Instagram and cross share to my Twitter and FB posts, but the FB post doesn’t always want to work for me….so if you are desperate to see what I find, follow my instagram feed – user name is 79Gifts.
I am always open to new ideas – please let me know if there is something you would like me to look for – I will be checking email regularly!
So much has changed since I last blogged with regularity.
- My Gorilla post about depression was published on Huff Post and shared thousands of times. It was even published in the NAMI magazine. I continue to get positive feedback as it slowly spreads and helps people effectively communicate how they are feeling.
- BasketWorks became BasketWorks, Inc. For anyone not sitting at my desk there are absolutely no changes. Well, my business card changed, but only a little. From this side of the desk, there is more paperwork and many, many questions directed to my account and lawyer. I am glad they are patient with me!
- I designed a new theme gift box for our Chicago gift packages. I am really tickled with how they came out! Keep your eyes here for a new Chicago Tote bag – also a BasketWorks design. We are working on getting them made now!
- I’ve joined the National Concierge Association. A professional association of Concierges and the businesses that work with them, being accepted to this organization was quite an honor for me.
- We are bringing back our paper newsletter. We plan on publishing quarterly – some reprints of blog posts, some new material. Please send me your snail mail address if you would like to be added to our list.
- My eldest son is already a sophomore at Knox College and absolutely loving every moment of it. This tiny school has proven to be the exact right fit for this kid who definitely marches to his own drummer!
- My younger son completed his Eagle Scout this summer and has grown taller than me. He loves picking me up and toting me around the house.
I am sure there is more, but I am going to go with this…under the promise to blog twice a week, I don’t want to bog myself down with seeking perfection.
Well, I’ve been gone for quite awhile, but I am back again. I am told that blogging is beneficial in a myriad of ways:
- It is good for sharing my assorted thoughts and ideas. I enjoy streams of consciousness as much as anyone, but that is a scary thought, I am reasonably confident that you don’t want to know what is going on in there. Trust me on this one.
- It is good for increasing traffic to my website. I haven’t seen that, but then again, I haven’t kept up my end of the bargain with keeping this blog current. So given that, it isn’t fair of me to make a determination one way or the other.
- It is good for creating a relationship with my readers. Now this I take objection to. I just cleaned out over a thousand comments for this blog. Every single one was from a spammer – not exactly the readership I am seeking. That said, they do think I am pretty fabulous – check out these quotes;
“Everyone will cherish this release, it’s most valuable.” There are variations on this telling me that “everyone will enjoy this piece.”
“This really is nice compose, I will shaire the idea for this frinds” Occasionally I have “nice produce” but for some reason, “frinds” is always misspelled the same way.
- It is a great way to introduce folks to new designs and to make special offers to readers. I think this falls into the same category as my second item above.
I promise to do a better job at updating and posting, aiming for twice a week. I just hope that I am not alone out here with the people who seem to be obsessed with outlet prices on bags and sunglasses! ( I am sure they are very nice people, but I’m not so sure they are looking for anything that I have to offer).
In any event, all this said, I will see you again early next week – let me know if you are here!