Amanda Cluett always had a feeling that entrepreneurship was her path. After working years in a government job and raising her three children, she thought, "if I don't do this, when am I ever going to do it?" and opened Black Bow Gift Co. in June 2019.
The company first started out selling pre-made gift boxes ($45 and up) intended for people who didn't have time to do their own shopping. "I initially sought out to be the go-to for people with very busy lives, but very much cared about the gift they were giving somebody, wanted it to be something that not only looked amazing, but it was really high quality," Cluett says.
A year and a half later, Black Bow's website list over 400 products, which can be mixed-and-matched to create a personalized box for any occasion and shipped throughout Canada and the U.S. On top of selecting all the items to go inside, clients can choose box colour, write a personalized note and get help from Cluett herself. "I have a lot of clients that over the period of a couple of days, they'll send screenshots of the box and they'll say 'What do you think of this option? Do you think it's going to look really good?'" she says.
Some of the most popular items Black Bow sells are made in Nova Scotia, including bacon jam from Chef Jason Lynch in Grand Pré, exclusive birch coasters from Watershed Wood and hand-poured candles from Circle & Wick. And although the business started with boxed collections, Black Bow recently added an option for customers who want to purchase items individually.
B efore Covid times, Cluett travelled to various craft and trade shows to meet her vendors and learn about their products. "I really am looking for the things that make the perfect gift item under a different range of gifting types and occasions," she says. "What makes the perfect item for a thank you gift and a sympathy gift and a wedding gift?"
Most of Black Bow's sales are in Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia, but Cluett lives in the Russell Lake area of Dartmouth. Until she can find a bigger space, she offers low-contact pickup there too. "We're busting at the seams," she says, "I actually have a rented space where we keep a lot of our oversupply and overstock, 'cause it's grown a little bit fast."
Cluett says she often gets thanked by gift recipients, but she doesn't take credit for what her customers put together. She just facilitates it.
"Somebody gave you that gift because they wanted you to feel special," she says. "When people trust us enough to help with very important occasions or holidays, it really means a lot and we take it really serious, and we're proud to be able to contribute in a way that spreads more kindness into the world."