From dispatching someone to the Middle East to bring back a stone from a family's long-lost childhood home (which we set in marble and carved song lyrics into) to unearthing a woolly mammoth tusk from the Black Sea for a wedding party, we've done it all. The incredibly unique world of professional gifting is something not many are privy to, but for our founder, Simone, it's been her life's work.
Simone sat down with Elle to talk about what it's like to be a professional gift giver in Hollywood and beyond.
First things first: Woolly mammoth tusks?
So much of this job is about psychology. People often want a gift to convey something they don't know how to say. So that was from a kind of Hemingway-rogue type who wanted to give his father something ancient that he could never have found himself. It really referenced their relationship—they would go on adventures together and one-up each other. He was imagining his father receiving this massive wooden crate at his door, and then it being opened, and it's woolly mammoth tusks.
Where do you find such a thing?
I am a keen editor and sourcer and I dig. I love meeting people from so many walks of life—like a fossil collector in the middle of Arizona who doesn't have the Internet.
The ideation process sounds like therapy!
It's like investigative work. And not to sound like I'm overdoing it, but that's why I do this—it comes from a very poetic and romantic place, which is, How do we connect people? Gifting can really affect relationships and how people perceive each other.
In one case, I worked with a family that didn't have a great relationship with the grandfather. For his daughter, we researched the family history and created a beautiful book about when they came over from Europe, the life that they lived. There were anecdotes that people hadn't heard, memories that were forgotten, photographs that hadn't been seen for 25 years. Bits and pieces of their family history needed some healing, and this book was a way to pay homage, to understand what the parents had gone through.
What do you tell someone who has gifter's block?
Think about how you know this person—what they love to eat, where they grew up, places that they love to go. For a boyfriend or husband: Call a woman's best friend—the girlfriends always know.
What if you still can't find that one perfect thing?
I love the idea of a contained story. Last year we did 50 boxes for a woman who wanted to give people her true experience of a snowy winter's eve in New York. We had truffles shipped over from Italy, caviar, a recipe from a famous chef. It was about the beautiful process of an evening—you light the fire, you light the candle, you pour the drink.
What do you tell clients not to give?
I steer people away from choosing perfume for someone else. Accessories are fine, but don't choose actual clothing, unless someone has told you specifically what they want. Consider the scale of the gift that you're giving—don't give something they're going to need to hire someone to install or pay a monthly fee for. The gift should be an all-inclusive, very simple experience.
What if someone is looking to give creatively but doesn't have six months to put into it?
Think about packaging and longevity. There's a company called Graphic Image, which has these amazing leather-covered books—The Great Gatsby, Breakfast at Tiffany's. And Jenni Kayne has these incredible L'Artisan Parfumeur ceramic lavender balls; they're white and they have white lavender inside of them. They look like a very feminine sculpture.
Is there a way to add significance to a classic gift like jewelry?
Sure. I worked with a client to create custom birthstone jewelry for everyone in her family—necklaces for the girls and cuff links for the men. Then we told a story about the different stones, about the month the person was born, and why this piece is significant to them. And for a bride and groom, we used elements from their family heirlooms—like their grandmother's tablecloth, which we turned into wrapping for books that we gave everyone.
Of course, you have to be willing to part with your grandmother's tablecloth.
You do. But it had been sitting in a box for years, and she was giving it to people who were so important to her in her life.
This article originally appeared in the December 2015 issue of ELLE.