Category Archives: BasketWorks

Celebrating 20 years in Business

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.
Sincerely,
Lise & the team at    72dpi logo

It’s Earth Day everyday at BasketWorks

We recycle!

We recycle!

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.
Sweet Home Chicago gift package in new gift box!

Sweet Home Chicago gift package in new gift box!

Pasta basket in a collander

Pasta basket in a colander!

 

 

 

 

 

 

We are always open to suggestions as to how to be more green!  How are you green?

 

Enjoy the process

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.

Smiles all!

Lise

Catalogs upon catalogs


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.

 

Lise

(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!)

Report from the Gift Show

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!

Smiles!

Lise

Updates and changes…

Sweet Home Chicago gift package in new gift box!

Sweet Home Chicago gift package in new gift box!

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….

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!

Lise

tailgate2

Football

My father raised me to enjoy watching football – no sons.  However, this football season has been such a disappointment for me.  The Bears are not worth the effort of pressing the television ON button, there have been more points scored against the Illini this year than any other Big Ten team.  The only upside for me is that I don’t have to try to watch football and build baskets at the same time.

That said, there are still die-hard Bears fans out there.   Chicago seems to breed die-hard fans. Maybe it has something to do with the weather – we have to be able to take a beating to live here!   In any event we have a great new Tailgater basket – pictured above.  And for the saner football fans, who perhaps are rooting for a winning team, this is available in all team colors.

Smiles!

Lise

PS.  My gorilla blog is now on HuffPost, here.  If you liked it, a like there will help it reach more folks.
PPS.  I was so excited about being on HuffPost that I was bouncing in my seat all day like a 4 year old waiting for birthday cake.

Harvest celebration

And now comes the crazy…..

Its the last week of October.  In my land, that means the crazy is now upon us.   The work week starts stretching from 5 days to 6 to 7.   The work day stretches from a 9 hour day to 12 to 15.  Meals get skipped.  I start watching the Waltons, Little House on the Prairie and The A Team – favorite quote: “I love it when a plan comes together.”

And you know what?

I love every minute of it.

It is crazy.  It is stressful.  It is physically and emotionally exhausting.  I love every minute of it.  Ok, maybe not every minute…11pm, I’m closing in on not loving it so much.  December 23rd I’m about done.   But generally speaking this is my time.

So come ride the wave with me.  Over the next several weeks I will be posting some of my new designs, as well as information on new programs we are starting – I hope that something catches your eye.

Smiles!

Lise

Gorilla on your Back

depressedsm

I’ve talked about writing this article for several years, but the timing never seemed quite right. It’s rather heavy for a blog about gift baskets, and yet such an important topic that ignoring it seems the wrong thing to do. And then, as you will understand after reading, there is the fear of opening myself up to criticism and disapproval. All these factors have conspired against my doing this.  But the time has come.

I have both a chronic illness (Crohn’s disease) and clinical depression. In my universe, they are separate beasts that I struggle with on a daily basis to control. My friends and family are supportive and loving, but had trouble understanding what depression felt like until I came up with the Gorilla concept. to help my father, who also had clinical depression, convey his emotional state to his medical teams.

Depression is an ape on your back. Every day presents a different ape to deal with. The goal in living with depression is to have a spider monkey. Spider monkeys are tiny little fellows. They cling pretty tightly, and can certainly get in the way, but hey, you can manage a spider monkey. You can put a leash on it, you can walk around with it on your shoulder and it might require some attention, but you can breathe, you can think, and for a while, you might even forget it is there. A spider monkey isn’t perfect, but it’s absolutely reasonable.

Some days you have a monkey on your back. This guy is bigger than the spider monkey. He is probably still controllable, but he’s certainly more of a problem. He is going to steal your food, so you won’t eat much. He is going to distract you so you can’t focus on what’s in front of you, and he’s going to trip you up, but you can probably work around him with some extra effort.

Orangutans are harder. They are big, heavy and have really long arms that reach around and cause trouble. They push away things that give you joy, make it hard for other people to get near you, weigh you down. They will literally cause you physical pain and block your ability to see the path to relief. If you live with depression, you develop the strength to carry around an orangutan, but you are aware of its presence 100 percent of the time. It impacts the way you eat, sleep, play, work, and interact with friends and family. Having an orangutan on your back is a huge, heavy weight to bear.

Then there is the gorilla. Imagine how hard it would be to get out of bed with a gorilla on your back. Think about how difficult it would be to get dressed, to brush your teeth, to go to work and do your job with the crushing weight of a gorilla on your back. Imagine the pain — both physical and emotional — that the gorilla is going to cause. Try to breathe or eat or think; the effort is exhausting.

Now, live with your primate of the day when no one else knows it is there. They can’t see the monkey, orangutan or gorilla, and you can’t make them believe it’s there. They want you to shake it off, ignore it, think about something else. They haven’t lived with a monkey on their backs, and they cannot begin to understand how overwhelming life is with a monkey.

Those of us suffering clinical depression are given tools to help control and tame our beasts  — medications, therapy, exercise  — but some days those are not enough. If we aren’t using all the available tools, finding the strength and energy to pick them up is sometimes more than we can do, because simply being is an exercise in emotional and physical endurance.

So, how do you help someone like me  live with a monkey on his or her back?

One: Don’t be judgmental. Trust me, no one wants to live like this. No one would choose to deal with this. It might look like we are not doing what we need to or that we are wallowing in the pain. But from where we sit, we don’t see any way out. We are too busy just trying to breathe.

Two: Respect it. While you may never be able to fully empathize, respect that this is a very real pain, in every sense of the word. We know that what we are feeling may not be logical, may not be reality, but that doesn’t change how it feels  — and it feels lousy.

Three: Offer the help you can. Be a friend, show the love. Don’t walk away or get angry  — that just feeds the monkey. Ask (gently) if we have taken our meds, help us make a doctor’s appointment, come by and just spend time, even if we can’t tell you we want you to. Listen to us, let us cry and encourage us to not check out from the world. And know that sometimes we are doing all the things we are supposed to be doing … and yet King Kong is moving in. It is just like that sometimes.

Finally, watch for cries for help. I am blessed; my family and friends know that when I have gorillas, I need support. And thanks to this analogy, I am able to tell them how I feel with just a few words, instead of trying to explain how the day is going. I have a monkey, I have an orangutan, I have a gorilla.

The gorillas are real.