By Janae Easlon
The Bellingham Business Journal
They get paid to shop together. Sisters and Bellingham residents Kristine Samoylenko, 24, and Lana Solo, 32, said they can’t imagine a better business to start.
Gift Garden, an online-based store, custom creates and curates gift arrangements for clients in need of house-warming, bridal or new baby presents.
They started Gift Garden around Mother’s Day with the idea of making gift giving easy and fun, Solo said.
Samoylenko came up with the idea of delivering gift crates when she worked in a realty office for The Muljat Group.
“I was watching the Realtors during busy seasons getting closing gifts for their clients,” Samoylenko said. “And I thought, ‘Wouldn’t that be cool if there was that one person who could be in charge of that?’”
Every item in each box is hand-selected and centers around a main theme, Samoylenko said. Sometimes, up to five stores will be visited to create the entire contents of one box. They gravitate to local boutiques and Etsy to shop, she said.
They are contacting Etsy vendors to become frequent suppliers of products for the boxes, Samoylenko said.
“We find stuff we think is unique and what people will like,” Samoylenko said. “We then begin curating boxes around the items.”
For Solo, her favorite part is the craft.
“I love working with my hands. I used to make headbands for my daughter,” Solo said. “This is just as fun, too. I get to be a part of something bigger.”
Before Gift Garden, Solo went to school in Spokane to become a dental hygienist.
Gift Garden uses rustic-looking crates to hold the gifts instead of traditional gift baskets.
“We carefully select our items to ensure they are unique and good quality,” Samoylenko said. They think of their boxes as “luxury gifting.”
The sisters said they want to begin creating gift bags for wedding receptions or gift crates for bridesmaids.
One crate featured by Gift Garden is the “Mr. & Mrs. Box.” It includes two mugs for newlyweds, tea, chocolate and a throw blanket, all wrapped with a silk ribbon.
Samoylenko has another business with her husband called Wildgrass Photography and took the photos for the Gift Garden website, she said. Potential customers find their business most often through social media platforms like Instagram, she said.
The sisters have been reaching out to potential clients in town. “We haven’t really pushed ourselves out there yet,” Samoylenko said. “This is all recent.”
While Gift Garden does not currently have a storefront, the sisters said they can see that in the future. For now, they said they are sticking to their creative workspace — their living room floors.
Gift Garden allows Solo and Samoylenko to get to spend time together and be with their kids, Solo said.
“You are the fun, crazy one in the family,” Solo said about Samoylenko. “When you walk into the room, the party starts.”
“She is the momma bear,” Samoylenko said in response about Solo. “She can be silly at times, but she is the wise one.”
They are working on Christmas-themed boxes for their appearance at the Lynden Craft and Antique Show from Oct. 13-15.