Backstory

Every business has a backstory, ours just starts with guilt and FaceTime

Picture This

Two sisters live miles and miles apart, but chat frequently. Nearly every week, we spend time staring at each other and catching up on all of the exciting things (and real things) going on in our lives. Work, kids, weather, love, money, etc.

One routine topic of conversation always had a pang of guilt, terrible guilt - and that was not sending gifts. We would even make plans…the kinds of plans that get down to discussing actual future actions - hey, Sara’s birthday is next month - what are you going to send? No matter how much we talked about being thoughtful, life and indecision held us up. We’d find cool stuff and bounce between ideas until it was too late to buy and ship. We’d ponder last minute options, like a grocery delivery.

Ultimately, we’d just end up talking about what we did not send and how we would totally be better people for the next awesome person and remember to send something. totally

The Problem

They say the first step to recovery is identifying that you have a problem. It was a summer day in 2017, and we were in our usual cycle of conversation when we stopped and reflected that the whole not-sending-gifts-that-you-mean-to-send is actually a problem. One of us mentioned that there should be a better way. Perhaps there were people who could just do it for you, so you wouldn’t have to be lame. Since we don’t live in a world where people just do things for us, we started looking for a gifting service.

hourglass

You know what we found? Lots and lots of services to remind us of important dates. The more that we searched, and failed, the more that we worked to define the problem we actually faced. It wasn’t that we didn’t remember, it was that we’d remember at the wrong time or let the perfect gift be the enemy of the great gift. We ultimately found that what we really needed was a way to plan our gifting when we had time and we were thinking about it - any busy person knows that these two are rarely in line. And then, we needed a way to ensure that the gifts shipped not when we were thinking about them, but at the right time. It was all just a time/flow problem.

We thought it might be easier to bend space time than to get the timing right ourselves

The Idea

We let it go for awhile; mostly because bending space time seemed pretty hard. Then, it came back up in conversation - perhaps we could be the solution. Not that we, personally, could go out and make or get gifts for folks, but perhaps we could come up with a solution. We considered just outsourcing our whole list to some kind of magical people who would be better than us at gifting. We labored through how we would ensure that these magical people would get the kinds of gifts that would make us and our giftees happy. There seemed to be so many questions:

  • How we could trust them not to just go to Target and buy something off of the dollar shelf?
  • More deeply, how could we get the kinds of things and support the businesses we liked if we outsourced?
  • How would we keep track of what people got and whether they liked it?
  • How would we know that people got different things?

It seemed like a no go. There were just so many risks.

Finally, we did the first thing that we should have done. We talked to people. We talked to lots of people. It was hard at first - did you know that people don’t like to admit that they struggle with things? However, most of our friends had the exact same struggles. Ultimately, we reached the people who make things and would turn out to be our solution. It turns out that so many people who are working at home or in small shops love when the orders that come in to them are gifts - and they love when orders come in at all because…let’s face it, being able to have a roof and food are nice. Maybe we could give some of our creative friends our list and just have them do it. Wait…that’s close. Maybe we could develop something up that would send our creative friends our request just at the right time?

magic

And that is when we really had it. And about the time that we realized that we could make this work for other people, too. We just needed to collect enough different creative people to be able to deliver gifts over the whole year to different kinds of people. And, we needed to have a way to collect and store information from people. From there, it was a coding journey and a little bit of a finance journey, as we picked a way to process payments that seemed the most fair to our users and suppliers.

Essentially, our gifts-done service is still this idea. People can enter information about their giftees, folks they want to send gifts to and the right dates and gift budgets for those people. Our service pays attention to the dates, budgets, and the preferences of the giftee and matches them up with a creative business owner who hand crafts or curates a gift that is sure to delight and sends it just on time. We added a part where the suppliers take a picture and describe what they are shipping as well. Now, we know what “we” are sending and can clue in our friends and family to expect something from us. It still feels a little bit like magic.

Rarely does joy come out of guilt, but it does in this story.

[names changed or not included to protect the innocent]


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