Amanda Cluett doesn’t believe in a bad gift.
“I’m somebody who is naturally an over the top gift-giver,” she said. “I’m the person that will search for days and days, and go broke finding the perfect gift.”
Cluett is the owner and creator of Black Bow Gift Co., a Dartmouth-based online business specializing in high-quality gift boxes for every occasion: weddings, birthdays, baby showers, illness, thank you, housewarming, or just because.
She first noticed there was a need for quality, hassle-free gift boxes after a colleague of hers needed surgery. She wanted to send him something that let him know she was thinking of him and his family, but nothing she found was personal enough.
“Traditionally you think gift basket, and they’re filled with things that are not that special, they’re filled with cheap items that are thrown together to make something look grand,” she said. “But when somebody opens it, they realize it’s not something they’re going to enjoy.”
Clients can choose to use Black Bow Gift Co. in three different ways: either by selecting a pre-designed box from the website, by creating their own box from the list of options online, or by working with Cluett in person to create completely custom gifts. Cluett offers same-day shipping, so gifts can arrive as quickly as possible.
There are over 400 different products in her inventory, including tea, candles, scarves, socks, beer, cheese, shaving cream, nail polish, stuffed animals and more.
“When I’m picking an item, for sure it has to be an item that is quality,” she said. “And I use myself as a good litmus test like, is this something I would actually enjoy getting?”
She said some of the pre-designed boxes can take her months to establish, as she experiments with various ideas until she has the perfect one in front of her.
“Some of these products I have spent days evaluating and deciding,” she said. “Because I have in my mind a vision of what it’s going to pair well with, and what’s going to make the biggest visual pop.”
Cluett said one of the most frequent reasons people order from her is during times of illness or grief, especially when a customer can’t be there in person.
“It’s a lot of the sad moments in life that make people really want to be there for one another,” she said.
She said connecting with clients and being able to foster special moments in their lives is what makes it all worth it.
“When they give me the story, when they tell me the challenge of the most difficult to buy for person...it’s getting to have those conversations,” she said.
Cluett, who previously worked in public service, became interested in gifting as a child. Her mother had a craft room in the house that Cluett loved to play in. Her father ran his own business, and when he needed gifts for customers or employees, her mother would create them.
“I grew up watching that, and I used to see how appreciative people were knowing how much time and effort my mom had put into [it],” Cluett said.
While only four months old, Black Bow Gift Co. has already made a big impression, as Cluett said she receives orders from across Canada and even the United States. Looking ahead, Cluett hopes to work more with businesses to create custom gift boxes for corporate events and client appreciation
“When businesses are appreciating their clients and their employees in a way that is meaningful to them and is genuine, that has a massive impact,” she said.