Wedding welcome gifts are the first impression your guests will get on your wedding weekend. They will set the tone for the big event, while extending your gratitude to them. In this post I share my 5 tips on how to design your very own custom welcome gifts!Read More
We take great pride in the fact that each and every product is tested & sampled. We want you to love each and every item as much as we do! And for your gifts to be filled with items that leave a positive lasting experience. I share my 5 favorite go-to bath & body products that make great purchases for yourself or for any gift.Read More
It's true! Yes, even you will now have access to your very own gifting concierge! So your probably thinking, Hmmm sounds pretty cool, but what is it? Well let me break it down for you.
But first, here's a little background - In case you don't know, that's me, Malissa Smith. The creator and heart behind the brand That's Darlin'. I started this company 4 years ago from a conversation that took place while sitting in the lobby of the Grand Floridian Hotel. Sidenote - I'm a huge Disney super-fan. Love everything about their philosophy, customer service, the feeling that fills your spirit the second you step foot onto property, but most importantly the *magic.* You will from time to time hear me refer to incorporating the "Disney Mentality" into my day to day business, and I truly do. Ok, back to my story... That very conversation 4 years ago had me writing out the details on a cocktail napkin while on our flight back home. I had this idea, where gifting could actually be a business. But there was so much more to what I was thinking. I was envisioning it being more of an experience for my clients and not just a service. My natural thought process was to start within the wedding industry, knowing that it needed someone (like myself) who could design custom Welcome Gifts. Gifts that actually reflected the Bride and Groom, their love story told in the form of carefully curated items that together would aesthetically look beautiful and offer an experience for their guests. So that's where I started and Welcome Gifts were a success. My clients loved the personal attention they received throughout our process and how their gifts made their guests feel loved and appreciated. Over the course of 4 years, I would receive requests for what I refer to as 'One Time' gifts, such as Birthday, Thank-You, Housewarming etc. etc. Unfortunately, working out of my home made it very hard for me to secure wholesale purchasing power with most companies. And I found myself turning down work on a daily basis. I continued to work my business but to only take on projects such as Corporate, Client and Wedding Welcome Gifts.
Fast forward to March 14th, 2018, when I gave birth to our son Maverick Michael Smith. During this time, I purposely only booked a very small number Spring clients knowing very well I would be adjusting to being a new mom and enjoying every second with our baby boy. Shortly after Mavericks birth, I approached my husband about shutting down my business - for good. I was probably over-tired and hormonal at this point but it was something that was on my mind for weeks. My husband was taken back by my conversation, but I explained to him that this business has been 4 years in the making and I felt it was now at the point I either grew it to its potential or shut it down. I no longer wanted to waiver between feeling successful and feeling like a failure. My husband asked me what 'growing the business' looked like. My answer, I need a retail space. I need a place where I can meet with clients. I need room to grow. I need a commercial address so I can purchase wholesale. I needed all of those things so I can expand the business beyond Welcome Gifts and offer (what I'm now calling) a Gifting Concierge service and all the while offering a beautiful space for my customers to shop. It was 2 weeks after that conversation that this new mama to a 3 month old stumbled upon the most perfect little cottage while on one of our walks. And is now home to the most Darlin' little gift shop you've ever seen!
All you need is faith, trust & a little pixie dust
So here's what you need to know. That's Darlin' can now offer a service called Gifting Concierge. What does this mean? Let's say you are in need of a housewarming gift for your friends that just closed on their first home and a gift for your girlfriend that just gave birth to the most gorgeous baby boy. Now, normally you would try to find the time to run around after work collecting items from different stores and racking your brain on how to make this the perfect gift for them. Or, you are so tired between work and family and everything in between you opt for the impersonal gift-card that may or may not get lost, re-gifted or never used. This is where our services come into the picture and make your life a little simpler! We have streamlined our process to make gift giving as easy as possible. First, you will select a budget from our Custom Gift Shop. You will then be prompted to answer a few short questions regarding the occasion and whom we are designing for. THAT.IS.IT! You are done, cross it off your list. Within a few days, your thoughtful housewarming gift will be shipped off to the Smith's new residence and the most darling baby gift will be headed out the door to that sweet baby boy.
And it gets better -
For those of you that are completely visual when making a purchase, we will have our predesigned gift collection available in the next few weeks. The collection will offer gifts ranging from New Baby, Thank-You, Birthday, Thinking of You, Just Engaged, Wedding and yes even Gifts for Him to just name a few. The truth is, we can design a gift for any occasion and celebration! It is our hopes between our Gifting Concierge Shop and the predesigned Gift Collection we will be meeting all your gifting needs. This journey has been 4 years in the making and to finally be able to write it out and hit publish on this post just signifies that I am one step closer to reaching some really great achievements in business and life. I'm so thankful for your support and helping this business that started out on a cocktail napkin grow to where it is today.
Photographs in this post taken by Love & Light Photographs and Malissa Smith
I've been wanting to write this post for a couple of weeks now and finally was able to put my thoughts into words. You may have noticed recently that I have been very quiet on the social media scene. And there is good reason why I have decided to say good-bye to the noise and distractions.
My normal routine upon waking would consist of opening my eye's, giving my body a good stretch and within minutes of rising I would already be "plugged in" for the remainder of the day. It would start with checking my emails before I even brushed my teeth, then right onto all my social media platforms. I was exhausted before I even got out of bed. Well, let me re-phrase, mentally exhausted... By the time I was my pouring my coffee, the thoughts were already filling my head of how my business nor I was just not good enough. Think about that with me for a minute, within moments of starting my day, I was already setting myself up for failure with these negative thoughts about myself and my business. Even typing that out makes me feel such a sadness. I just want to go back in time and give myself a big hug and say out loud, "Stop listening to all the noise."
As time went on, I eventually became my own worse critic. Somewhere on this journey, I started to believe that faster was better, that quantity over quality was favored, that taking on work that did not align with my business model was "OK" for the time being because at least I was "working." Then enter the burn-out, the moment when I not only took on to much work for one person, but work that was no longer satisfying my wallet or my heart. I was lost and so consumed by the noise, I didn't even realize it.
A couple of weeks ago, I woke up and realized that I left my phone in my office. So instead of starting my morning off with checking emails and social media, I laid in bed and went over my plans for the day. I then proceeded to slowly rise, brush my teeth, go outside with my dogs, check on the garden, make a cup of coffee and did all this without the noise. The noise that I would normally already have within minutes of waking. This experience gave me a taste for something I had been yearning for but had no idea how to get there. Was I indeed addicted to the noise that I was now despising? I no longer wanted to feel inadequate because of who I am "friends" with or who shares my work. I wanted to break free from the labels we get based upon the number of likes, friends, shares, collaborations, partnerships, shout-outs and true high-school feeling clique's. No thanks! No more! I didn't want to be sold another online course on how to gain more followers. I was not interested in buying into someone else's idea of pay me hundreds of dollars and I will make you an over-night success. Noise, it was all noise and it was crowding my mind, taking up valuable space. Space that I wanted to save for my clients, for my work, for myself.
I now have a commitment to myself that when the noise starts to take up to much of my time, I close down the laptop and disconnect for a short while. And when I say disconnect, I do not mean that I walk away from my work obligations, I actually get busy with-in my work. I dive into creating something fabulous and unique for one of my Bride's or put some writing time into my blog. Anything that helps me ease away from the pressure's of keeping up is medicine for my soul. I am looking for true and authentic connections, not one's that are based on what I can do for you or vice versa.
And while I really do love what some of my social media outlets have done for my business, I now approach it in a very different manner. I am so appreciative for what it has brought me thus far, like some really amazing business opportunities and honest friendships. These are the things that keep the noise away, my clients, my friendships, my family, they are what is truly important in my life. I will continue to be present online but I will close it down when the first feelings of the pressure start to seep in. I am a work in progress as we all are and this is my attempt at being the best possible version of Malissa.
And as far as my phone... It's best left in the other room at night. I really am enjoying the quiet start to my days.
Photos by Love and Light Photographs
For the past year, I've had a running list of idea's that I knew I wanted to blog about, eventually... The one topic that kept coming up for me was how I define success, what does being successful look like? I feel like the success talk is much like the money talk, no one wants to have it. Success should not be something we are embarrassed about, hide from or even feel the need to exaggerate. Your success and victories should be celebrated no matter how small they may seem. Here are a few ways I learned to embrace the process of accepting my own successes.
IT'S NOT A NUMBERS GAME
I've been there, I've done it, I'm guilty as charged. I have compared away, whether its the number of followers they have, number of blog posts, amount of times they have been published, number of likes, numbers, numbers, numbers! I thought in order for me to be/feel successful, my numbers needed to be off the charts, that the amount of followers would equate to the amount of work I received. #FALSE
Yes, of course as my following grows I do tend to feel encouraged and the amount of likes I receive may shift from day to day. But I can now attest to the theory, that the amount of followers equals the amount of work I receive is false. (At least for me this is true) Hand raised high; I am busy, I sometimes receive more inquiries that I can answer in a promptly time frame, I have enough work for my two hands and small studio space can handle at the moment. Numbers no longer control my image of success. Instead, the time and care I can offer each client is how I define my success. When a client sends me a message reassuring me that I am meant to do this, that is what makes me feel successful.
FORWARD IS A MOTION
Don't get me wrong, yes I have semi-mastered the non-numbers game of thought but that doesn't mean I still fall into the comparison game from time to time. I am only human after all, and definitely not perfect. Gauging your success on someone's portrayal of their success is a negative place to let yourself drift into. Here are some tips for when the self-destructing starts to step in.
- GET BUSY! This is when you need to dive even further into your own situation. Recognize your journey is exactly that, YOURS.
- STAY FOCUSED on you and that special gift you are offering to the world. What keeps you unique? What are you offering to your clients and customers that is needed? Reminding yourself why you began can jump start the motivation train.
- SHOUT IT OUT to everyone, letting them know who you are and what your business has to offer. Compose an email and send it other's within your industry introducing yourself. Get out from behind the computer and meet other creatives. Join a meet up, one where you can chat among other like-minded individuals. If you are looking to find one in your area you can check out Rising Tide Society, to locate one near your home town.
- KEEP MOVING, even one small step at a time. Because in the end, forward is forward no matter how big of a jump or little a step. Forward keeps the energy going.
- BE YOUR OWN BIGGEST FAN. Everyone loves a cheerleader, be the best at it!
In the end, we will all have different definitions of success. For some, success may very well be a certain number of followers, while the next may say it's the amount of inquiries they receive in a single day. For me, success is the end result of each gift design I hand over to my clients and customers. Success is the thoughtful email they send to me afterwards. Success is the feeling a gift I designed gives someone who is preparing to start chemotherapy or the Bride that needed help with saying Thank You to her best friends. Success to me will always be a feeling and not a number.
The wedding countdown is on and you are crossing items off your to-do list like a true superstar. You have a dozen different alerts set on your phone for all those important reminders. Everything is nicely falling into place at this point. And just as you think you got this... Wedding planning is easy breezy, you take a scroll through Pinterest and see the one pin that throws you into panic. You realize may have overlooked one very important item, the welcome gift!
It seems to me like the welcome gift is making a huge come back. Whether its a custom design based on the theme of the wedding or a simple gift box filled with sweets and treats that you both love, the thoughtfulness of the welcome gift will go a long way with your guests.
Now what to include?
I often get asked this question daily and the answer is very simple... Anything that you would enjoy yourself! I would advise choosing a few items that are your favorite snacks as well as your partners. Do you like sweet but your partner likes savory? What is your go-to snack while sitting on the couch with a glass of wine and watching the new season of The Bachelorette?(Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Caramels For Me!) With deciding on a few well thought-out snack items, you're already half way done! Love the snack but not the packaging? Head over to my Pinterest board where you will find lots of inspiration for alternate packaging idea's here - That's Darlin Pinterest
Adding drinks will always be on a case by case basis when I'm designing welcome gifts. There are a few factors to keep in mind when deciding to add them or not. Things to think about:
Keep in mind the drink will be served room temperature.
Do you want to include only one drink per gift box?
The heavier the drink the sturdier box you will need to source.
Alcohol versus non-alcoholic drinks.
Remember to include drinking straws and or a bottle opener if needed.
Lastly, it can be fun to include an itinerary with the weekends events listing the time's and locations. This lets your guests know all the plans you have arranged for them. Whether it be the welcome dinner or the after wedding brunch, make sure to keep them informed! If you do not have any other events planned besides the main one (The Wedding!), a thoughtful thank you letter is a nice touch. Saying Thank You with a note to your guests will leave them feeling loved and that their attendance is truly appreciated.
The only thing left to do is decide gift box or gift bag. If you are using any items that are fragile or breakable, I highly suggest a sturdy gift box. You can then choose filler and ribbon that coordinate with the color palette of your wedding. With a gift bag, you can still tie it closed with ribbon and add a gift tag that says, "Welcome" or maybe "The Smiths".
Whether you keep it simple or go with a custom and extravagant design, it will absolutely leave a loving impact on your friends and family. If you would like to inquire about working with me on your custom welcome gifts, you can do so here - Let's Chat!
I've re-written this post probably a dozen times. I would type out a few paragraphs followed immediately by hitting the delete button until the entire page was cleared to only start over again and then again and again. Aaaahhhhh the pressure of my first official post! Then I thought, I'm just gonna go with it. Let's try that approach and see how it turns out. So here it is, me just going with it.
the girl behind the gift box
Being this is my very first post and most of you may not know anything about me or my business yet, this would be the perfect place for us to get acquainted. Hello! My name is Malissa, the creative heart and soul behind That's Darlin'.
Do you have that one friend, the one that ALWAYS gives the greatest gifts? The one that knows exactly what to give and makes it look seemingly easy? Well... I'm THAT girl, (Hi!) Since I can remember, I have had a love for all things pertaining to gift giving. Ribbons, tags, tissue paper, baskets, boxes, bows, you name it, I probably own it. But I have a secret I want to share with you. The art of gift giving is not about the items you choose, but the love, thought and presentation you put into it. How do I know this? Years and years of hearing the same responses over again and again, "This looks so beautiful I don't want to open it." or "I can't believe you spent this much time on my gift." A year later, they may not remember the products you gave them, but I can promise they will remember the thoughtfulness, the love and the way it made them feel. That my friends is the secret behind the gift.
For me, this is an important part of my branding, it is the driving force behind this business. I want each recipient to feel that their gift was personally designed just for them. Whether it's a Bride wanting to say "Thank You" to her bridal party in a lovingly way or a business looking to send a gift to their newly signed clients, each has its own story, its own feeling, that I will convey on your behalf through the gifting process.
Rewind to a couple of months ago - I had a meeting with Dana, the creative story teller behind Between Sleep and Awake. We spent the morning chatting about my passion for this business and why it's so much more than pretty items in a box. We both decided that working on a brand movement video would be the best option to convey the emotion and let everyone see the heart that is behind this brand. I was so nervous to take on this project, as it made me feel that I needed to be vulnerable and let my guard down. As much as I love using Instagram as a form of my marketing, it was now time for everyone to get to know more about the girl behind the gift boxes. And why this business is so much more than a product.
So... Without further ado, please enjoy the final product of what I consider to be my heart and soul on screen. To me, this is everything...
PS: Thank you Dana for helping me share this vision with the world. It is my greatest accomplishment thus far.