Updated: Dec 4, 2020
When pondering what I would like my bio to say I asked myself – what is it about gifting that made you quit your job, open a business during a pandemic and do something uncertain for the first time in your life? I believe in instances like this the saying “Everything is fine until you start talking back to yourself” - does not apply, right? So I answer my self reflecting question with “it’s not just about the gifting, now is it?” (Insert that little wink and jingle that always happens in a Santa Claus movie)
Since I was a little girl, I have witnessed first hand the magic that comes with gifting. It brings a kind of joy so special they named a love language after it. Gifting for me comes from a deep desire to make others happy. I am an appeaser by nature, who has the eye for a good colour scheme and product placement ( a much nicer way of saying that I’m a perfectionist). I am also innately programmed to make others look good. I find joy in helping people improve the areas of their life that they either don’t have time to do themselves, or just aren’t interested in doing. Not everyone enjoys the same things and that is what I believe teamwork was invented for. Know your strengths and find the people to support your weaknesses and vise versa. We are all human, and we all fit together in one way or another in this thing we call the Universe.
I can tell you the exact moment I realized I needed to pick up my passion and move it into the “I do this for a living” category of my life. To give you a quick back story, I have worked in Real Estate for the last three and a half years. I thrived in the environment and loved every minute of my career…until I didn’t. Insert the COVID-19 pandemic. The world shut down, and so did I. Tensions were high in the Real Estate community and the days were forcing us to pivot so fast there wasn’t any room for error. When you are in the public eye, every step you make and every move you make is judged and watched. We had to make the right choices and present the right image not only for our clients, but for the public. That meant no gifting. With little knowledge of the virus and how it was transmitted, we couldn't risk pumping out our gifts for clients for risk of spreading something the world knew little about. I was shocked at how bothered by this I was. What is a world without being able to gift something to someone. It wasn’t about being materialistic or self serving, it was about the fact that this virus had limited one of the best things people could do for each other – express gratitude. For me, gifting was a way of expression my gratitude and love for others, and I couldn’t.
Fast forward a couple of months and the world began to heal. Real Estate never stopped, in fact it only sped up and we felt comfortable enough to start gifting again. I was approached to work on a gift for a luxury client, with the connotation that no matter what I put together, it may not be enough. You might think I took that as a challenge and made the best gift ever and the lady cried, right? No. For me, it wasn’t a challenge, it was what I was best at. If there is one thing I have come to learn and be proud of about myself is that I am extremely good at reading people. Give my matriarchy the credit or maybe my five years of study in Anthropology but I am good at it. I know what people want and I know what people don’t. Gifting is tricky this way. The only way to actually make an impact is to create a gift not simply to be noticed, but remembered. A gift can be wrapped beautifully, but does it have the experience factor? Will this client remember the gift I create for years to come? It was my job to make sure she did. My job was to also make the gift giver look good. This was not her strength but it was mine, and that’s what teamwork is. I built the most incredible Moet and Chandon themed gift, organized a charcuterie board to be delivered and hand picked the most innovative out door projection system. Let’s picture it. It’s dusk on a windy but warm Georgian Bay evening. The sun is setting and the string lights are gleaming. You sip your champagne in your Muskoka chair while divulging in prosciutto and fine cheese. Ahead of you is a classic black and white movie playing in your movable outdoor theatre. This is an experience. You can smell the air, taste the champagne and remember the night fondly.
A few days go by and I am given the feedback that I wowed the clients who ‘have it all’. It’s a feeling I never get used to. Hearing the ‘you are so good at this’ is both humbling and empowering for me. Knowing that those clients got to experience something they may not have been able to create themselves, or even something they didn’t expect to receive is every bit of validation that this girl needs.
I start to become even more empowered as I watched other local business owners survive and thrive during the pandemic. I can do this, I say to myself. I also remember thinking to myself “while people are out here worrying about not having a pool if the world shuts down again, I’m worried about not being able to gift again”. So I decided that it was my job to make sure gifting never stopped, for everyone. That it was my job to create hundreds of mini collaborations of creativity and teamwork within my community. I wanted to work with other local artisans and find those items that everyone would love. I wanted to make an impact.
So here is Elegantly Ellen, a business built on empowerment of strengths and a love for creating joy through gifting. Join me in my journey. Experience the joy gifting creates. I look forward to working with you and making something not only noticed, but remembered.