As we approach the end of the first quarter I caught up with Jill Smith, founder of Practical Gift Box AND our marvellous March member of the month. We chatted all things practical, feeling cherished and how exercise helps with a clear and positive mindset. Congratulations Jill – we love your practical gift boxes and your incredible enthusiasm – read our full interview below.
Jill Smith, Why did you start your small business?
The idea came to me after some close friends gave me care packages during a time in hospital. They were filled with personal, helpful gifts chosen specifically to comfort me and to be extremely useful. I felt so cherished and so connected to these people, it was amazing.
From this followed the realisation that really thoughtful, useful and relevant gifts have so much power to spread happiness and make people feel great. And the business idea that became Practical Gift Boxes was born.
Tell us about your background before Practical Gift Boxes
Prior to Practical Gift Boxes I had been a scientist of 20+ years. I have a PhD in molecular biology and worked in the biotech industry all my career, rising to the position of Chief Operating Officer before a health scare changed everything. During my recovery I had the lightbulb moment to do something completely different and have never looked back. I love that I can be creative, everything’s fast moving, and of course, I’m my own boss now!
What’s your best selling product, and why do you think it’s so popular?
My best seller is the ‘I Love My Car’ gift box. A collection of useful items for the car including glass wipes, paint scratch remover, ice scraper etc it sells well all year round but does particularly well around Father’s Day and Christmas. I think the reason it’s so popular is that many people find it very difficult to find gifts for men that they will appreciate and use. So to be able to offer something that is really useful, highly relevant, nicely presented and unique makes it a winner.
What’s the nicest thing a customer has said about your business?
I have had so many lovely comments. I am absolutely blown away when customers take the time to email me with feedback. I received this message earlier in the week: ‘I ordered the coffee gift set for my son’s birthday, I have never known him to be so pleased with a gift’. How lovely is that? I print them all out and stick them in a scrapbook and read through them from time to time.
What are you most looking forward to in 2023 for your small business?
I’m really looking forward to expanding the gift box range and this includes branching out into corporate gifting. I would love to work with businesses to help them demonstrate how much they care for their staff. Thoughtful, relevant gift boxes could be used to celebrate sales targets reached, raise staff morale, say a big thank you to teams, acknowledge loyalty, consolidate client relationships…..there are so many ways in which they could be used.
As recommended by Practical Gift Boxes
Each month we ask our chosen member to share 3 recommendations of things that have helped them in running their business. It could be a podcast, book, TV programme, yoga – anything really!
In running your own business, mindset is so important and I find that regular exercise really helps me with this. I have to be honest, it is a work in progress and varies from week to week, but I try and I definitely feel so much better for it, and would recommend it to anyone.
Secondly, I always listen to Catherine’s Resilient Retail Game Plan podcast. I look forward to Thursdays when they are released, and also often go back and listen to previous episodes that are relevant to what I’m working on.
My third recommendation is to use the 5 second rule. This is quite a new one to me. Sometimes I overthink things to the point of complete inaction. A good friend said to me recently, just count to 5 and do it. So I do! Particularly when it is something difficult and I need to get out of my own way. I count to 5 and just do it.
Well done again Jill for being our March member of the month!
If you liked this blog post take look at a past member of the month here.