By Jill Hodge
Soon after becoming pregnant, most moms-to-be start to look more closely at the products they use at home. With the safety of a baby to consider, they question their bedding, the plastics in their house, and the food they eat. As they become more savvy consumers, moms won’t settle for anything other than quality. Luckily, they don’t have to, because more and more, quality can be found in eco-friendly and organic products.
Shefali Patel, a mompreneur with a gift and party planning business has extended that care and consideration to her growing business by asking the questions: What if we took great care in assembling gifts for our friends and family that were not only tasteful, tempting, and downright yummy, but good for the environment? What if those gifts were truly customized to meet the interests and sensibilities of their intended recipients? She answered those questions with her business, Simply Very Nice.
Though it was first in the service of her children, Shefali began to assemble fine artisanal and organic products for customized gifts that became the backbone of her website http://www.simplyverynice.com. The company provides customized gifts, party goods, and other elements of party planning that are eco-friendly and finely-made. The result of this attention to quality: gifts that stand out because of their whimsy, their fit, and their attention to detail. Shefali, a former teacher and literacy specialist, creates gifts that can include a variety of products: children’s books and toys, artisanal foods and beverages, home goods, beauty products, and delectable sweets.
BeautyNewsNYC.com had the amazing opportunity to chat with this innovative gift guru.
BN: Tell us about yourself. How did your former career as a teacher begin?
Shefali: I’m a native of Queens, NY. I received my Masters degree in early childhood and special education at Hofstra University. My 4th grade art teacher inspired me to become a teacher. She showed us how the materials worked and then left us alone to create, teaching the process and content to support our ideas. She taught the process as much as the content. I love teaching, especially exposing children to their first books. But I also wanted to be home with my kids, so I left my job as a teacher after the birth of my first son, Veer.
BN: What inspired you to start Simply Very Nice?
Shefali: It was after planning Veer’s 2nd birthday party that I discovered my love for putting together decorations, favors, and themed gifts that awed the kids and parents who came to our parties. SVN started with an element of how to raise my son. After my husband and I did research on baby products, particularly BPA-free plastic bottles, we began to purchase more green products – toys, skin care, bedding – in order to keep our son healthy. It also meshed with our cultural background. My husband’s experiences living in Africa as a child and my Indian heritage, gave us an appreciation and experience with natural products. What inspired me was combining what I love to do, putting eco-friendly gifts with design in mind, with the flexibility of being home with my kids.
BN: What has been your biggest challenge in starting the business?
Shefali: Since nearly 90% of the products in my gifts are eco-friendly, they are highly personalized in terms of their relevance to my customers while maintaining a beautiful design that appeals as a one-of-a-kind gift. In the beginning, it was difficult to find eco-friendly products that were beautifully packaged. The most essential part of making a truly customized gift for someone special is to rely on the customer to communicate about the gift recipient’s likes. I want to get deep into what they love most so that their gift is a reflection of who they are. I don’t want customers to just purchase something off my website. For the gift to have meaning, I need some specifics, and it can be challenging to get customers to stop for a few minutes and express the recipient’s style, likes, and passions. Only then will the gift be truly unique and wonderful– from the content of the gift, to the packaging, and even the hand-made gift tags.
BN: What types of gifts and services do you offer?
Shefali: Themed birthday party decorations and favors including: robots and legos, transportation, Western, and nostalgic-themed candy. We create gifts for both kid and adult parties. I package corporate gifts in specialized, reusable containers with artisanal specialty foods like goat’s milk caramel sauce, smoked chocolate chips, Hammond’s candy, and specialty cordials. We’ve done customized wedding gifts including party favors, bridesmaids/groomsmen’s gifts, and personalized table setting cards. We also carry a collection of organic skin care products for innovative and luxurious beauty gifts.
BN: You’re on a desert island with your kids – name 5 must-haves you’ll want with you.
Shefali: Badger sunscreen, lots of Legos, Moksa soap, chocolate-covered Goji berries, and a solar-powered iPad.
Simply Very Nice