Just suppose you had the opportunity to create whatever business you wanted, to create an entity, a living embodiment of what would scream you, your passion, your way of contributing to the world, of doing what you love and supporting your family with it. Suppose you could entertain anything and everything as an idea—what would make you proud? This was the scenario, the gift we gave ourselves—the opportunity to explore any and every possibility, no expectations, no barriers, simply the chance to create what we would love.
My dear friend, Karen Edwards, and I gave ourselves that gift with the hopes of making it big by pursuing our dreams. The process resulted in months of cooking up ideas. Everyday was filled with sentences that began with “ What if ...,” “The world really needs ...”, “ I hate ... ”, and “Wouldn’t you love to ...” From services to products, from huge investments to cottage industries, we’d see ourselves wearing aprons one day or Armani suits or (gasp) absolutely nothing the next (that didn’t last long, but we had to go there.) We tried it all on for size, for fit, for feel, and to see what touched us. Call us crazy (go ahead, our husbands and friends did), we loved messing with reality and testing our limits by being completely unrestrained, by ignoring the “you shoulds” and by thinking as far out of the box as possible.
Each day we giggled at our flakiness and poked fun at our endless flip-flopping. Honestly, we were a bit nuts, but it was fun. Most of the ideas came and went quickly, being discarded because they were not true to who we are. In this frenetic process we quickly noticed reoccurring threads running through our endless ideas. We took notice of what it said about us and what we wanted to create. We began to get a clear sense of what made us tick. Those threads always involved offering nurturing on some level. We found that businesses involving giving love were tops. Being good to Mother Earth was a given in whatever we decided we’d do. We decided we needed to embrace being women, sisters, wives, mothers and to do good things, to walk the talk.
One day in the midst of our quest, a friend sent me an email with the link to a Tim Minchin song, “Take Your Canvas Bags.” We could not get this song or the message out of our heads. The idea of selling canvas bags was a spark that lit us up quickly. Hey, we shop—pretty much every day as matter of fact. We had plastic bags tumbling out of our cupboards, we felt guilty, we didn’t always remember to bring our own bags. The fact was, most of our bags were just plain ugly. What would we carry, what would we want a canvas bag to say about us when we were out and about? We loved fresh graphic images, not logos, not slogans, but simple and real images spoke volumes to us. Bags—yes, this is an idea we could feel good about. We would save the world, one less plastic bag at a time.
What about the giving part though? A frequently tossed around and loved idea of gift baskets reared its sweet head again. “What if ... we had gifts in a canvas bag?” Wouldn’t you love to ... get a beautiful canvas bag filled with goodies?”
“You know what I hate ... baskets and plastic bags.” “The world really needs ... a better way to give gifts.” The idea of gift sets in canvas bags hit the high note we were looking for and we’ve put all of energy into it. It’s Only Natural Gifts was conceived and nurtured and our website became a reality in early March 2008. So much is right about this idea and we’re going to make it big by thinking small. We decided that thinking small means providing great customer service, letting the giver customize their gift contents and bags, and being attentive to the needs of recipients.
Content options needed to be what we would like to get—natural and organic food and body products. Luxurious and healthy, at the same time—that’s the ticket. Breakfast goodies, snacks, chocolates, bath products, lotions, books, seeds, soaps, herbs, teas, more chocolate, crunchy, salty, candles, it’s all the things we love, all natural or organic, nothing fake, only yummy. Organic is here to stay and there are some amazing new products out there, every day something new piques our interest.
A couple of months ago we met the guys who run Seth Ellis Chocolatiers in Boulder, CO. These are two guys with a dream—to make the finest organic chocolate truffles out there. One taste and we were sold. We’re thrilled to bring this find to our customers. Last week, because spring is greening up things around here and because we love to grow lettuce and flowers in our own little patch of dirt, we focused on seeds from Botanical Interests We also met the folks at Smith Truslow who offer the finest freshly ground organic herbs and spices we could find. We’ve uncovered so many great organic products to include in our gift sets. Each set comes in a canvas bag; it’s like wrapping the goodies in reusable wrapping paper. We love our spunky bags so much; we decided the inspiration for our business should get center stage, so the bags may be purchased individually.
It’s early in our adventure, but we’re so pleased to be on the scene. Feedback has been excellent so far. We’re adding new bags and new organic products daily. Wish us luck. No doubt there will be more adventures in the business and life to follow. We look forward to letting you know what’s happening with our business through articles on DivineCaroline.