Great Handmade Gifts, Inc.
Website / company founded by Hope Katz Gibbs
Motto: You are unique, your gifts should be, too!
Shop online: www.www.greathandmadegifts.com.
Why did a journalist found an onine gift compay? In wake of 9-11, I needed something useful to do with my hands. The experienced worried me so, and left me feeling so useless and helpless, I began making crystal jewelry, wine rings, hand-rolled beeswax candles, and selling them when the creations took over the den. Soon after, I saw the experience as an opportunity to “carpe diem,” and decided to form a company that sold not only my crafts, but those of other national artists, as well.
The company now represents more than 50 artists who create everything from wall-sized murals (Sally Wern Comport) and illustration (Michael Gibbs) to photograhy (Steve Barrett), beaded sterling utensils (Melanie Barry) and handpainted furniture (Nicki Shishakly).
Press coverage: Washington Woman magazine_ assigned me to write a cover story about starting her company, which ran in December 2002; and in 2005, Modern Bride reporter Ann Cochran wrote an article about the great wedding favors available on the GHG website. Both are shown on this page.
by Ann Cochran
Lately, guest gifts seem to fall into one of two hot categories: something completely personalized, or something to eat.
You’ll find great options for both approaches at a Virginia-based Web site, _www.greathandmadegifts.com._In the customizable department, a cool option is the personalized wine ring. Owner Hope Katz Gibbs offers “zillions of designs,” so you can actually give each guest one that suits his interests, from a stethoscope to a sailboat. Each ($3.50) comes in an organdy bag or a tiny box. Rumor has it that wedding guests expect something chocolate, so a decadent chocolate favor might be the perfect party finale. Gibbs’ white chocolate swans or her rich chocolate truffles (by Schakolad Chocolate Factory) are both great options — and they even come in sugar-free versions. Great Handmade Gifts, Inc., 703 502-3405. — A.C.
by Hope Katz Gibbs
Washington Woman magazine
Cover story, page 10
The Birth Of A Business
The idea for Great Handmade Gifts came to me shortly after my husband Mike and I had moved our family from Old Town, Alexandria to western Fairfax County in the summer of 2000. We came in search of good schools and a house big enough to hold our two children and our two businesses (I have been a freelance writer since 1993, Mike has been a freelance illustrator since 1980). We got all that plus three community pools, two tennis courts, tons of tall trees and lots of nice neighbors.
By Christmas I was miserable.
I missed the energy and excitement of being near a city. I missed being able to plop my kids in the stroller and walk to a nearby coffee shop or bike down to the river. I wanted to go home. Only, I was home.
My oldest child Anna, then five, had just started kindergarten and it had taken her several months to feel settled. When I grumbled about wanting to move, she gave me a look that said, “Please, Mom. No.”
I knew, even without even her abject plea, we were staying put. It wasn’t that our new life was terrible. It wasn’t what I was used to. I knew I’d have to adapt.
Opportunity came knocking that holiday season when several neighbors started delivering plates of Christmas cookies. I thought, “How nice.” Then, I started to panic: I wanted to reciprocate their kindness, but having me bake would not be a treat. Trust me. Then it dawned on me. Mike had given me beeswax the previous year so we could roll Hanukkah candles. That was the answer! The kids and I would make candles for all the neighbors, in lieu of plates of cookies I’d surely have burnt.
For the next week, Anna and Dylan, then 2, helped me roll and wrap the waxy creations in tissue paper and ribbon. It was a big hit—and the experience got me thinking. Perhaps I could make candles and sell them in stores? I’d call my company Great Handmade Gifts, sell the art and crafts of others—like my husband—go to craft shops and shows, and put up a website to sell our wares online. The whole company seemed to form itself in a heartbeat.
But what this a good idea?