After years of working with an esteemed roster of clientele, Natasha Morris wanted to create a one-stop-boutique style personal concierge service for busy parents, brides, entrepreneurs, organizations and corporations that would heighten the overall experience for clients with one-of-a-kind creations and exceptional service. Our mission is to provide seamless personal concierge services that will help clients approach their events with less stress, and much more confidence.
Through various speaking engagements, fundraisers and events, Natasha also supports the Sickle Cell Organization of Ontario. Diagnosed with Sickle Cell Anemia at the tender age of 2 years old and unsure if she would live past her 20’s, Natasha is fully aware of what it takes to push through life’s obstacles. It is this resilience and determination that she uses with her beautiful creations for clients. She shares her story to empower youth and young women going through similar circumstances.
What motivated and inspired you to start your own business?
Truth be told, this business fell into my lap. When I got sick and wasn’t able to continue my 9-5 job, I didn’t know what I was going to do. It all started as a favor for the First Lady of my church who wanted to gift her board members. It was from that request that this business was birthed. When I was forced to take a leave of absence from my full time job, I was encouraged to make what was then more of a hobby, into a business.
I didn’t even know that gift baskets could be a business! I didn’t feel that baskets alone would be sufficient. I then noticed that Toronto had a lot of networking events and conferences where swag bags were given to attendees, so I added swag bags to what I was already doing. I attended a business program that helped me address all the things a new business owner would need to know and grow. After attending the class, it dawned on me that my friends and family always asked me for help when it came not only to gifts but, event planning, gift ideas, and personal styling.
Shortly after that I started to think more business minded and I realized that since I was being asked to plan events, create favors, and style people that maybe I should incorporate all these things into my business and that was where the concept of a gifting concierge boutique was birthed. I feel like when you’re meant to do something else in life, sometimes one door will close and another will open so that you can see what you were meant to do.
You see, my illness forced me to become an entrepreneur. This decision saved my life. I have a little boy who needed his mom and the pressure of managing a staff of 100 people and the demands of my job added to my health issues which forced me to walk away from my 9-5. I didn’t realize that the world was waiting for my gift and being a business owner allowed me to manage my schedule and my health.
I enjoy watching the happiness that comes from individuals when their event is complete and their vision unfolds right before their eyes. I can see the concept others have for an event or a gift and help them make their vision a reality.
Tell us about your business.
My business is a boutique style personal concierge service based in Toronto. I offer full concierge service in relations to gifts, styling and party decor. We provide personalized gift baskets, favors for weddings, dinner parties, birthdays and event planning/designing services. Bringing a new aesthetic to Toronto gifting, I pride myself in having the ability to bring out-of-the-box thinking and unique perspectives to life through unforgettable gifts and service.
We have had the opportunity to gift high profile celebrities and speakers and due to the uniqueness of our brand, we have been well received with quotes like “How did they know that was my favorite?” and “I loved it!”
Our services include the following:
- Personal styling and shopping
- Customized gift baskets
- Curated and assembled swag bags
- Consultation for parties and events
- Home Design/Decor (seasonal)
Through our passion and love of gift giving, we put a lot of time and love into making each gift right, not to mention our speciality is customized gifts online! We believe in making you look good as you gift the ones you love. That’s where our motto comes in “when it’s more than a thought, choose Gift’d by Natasha”. No one wants dust collectors so we get to know a bit about the person receiving the gift to ensure that we are giving them something they not only can use but that they love.
How we stand out from the rest is the fact that we cater to your needs, so if you’re hosting an event where you have guests flying in, we ensure that they receive royal treatment. Their basket has all the goodies they love along with a keepsake delivered to their room before they even land. We also curate and assemble swag bags for large events and we carry our own customized products. We allow our clients the ability to enjoy their family and other important things while we take care of the tedious work – all the while making you look good.
Gift’d by Natasha’s goal is to make any guest feel appreciated and what better way to do so than to send them a gift that was put together with love and intentionally made just for them?
Where is your business based?
What were the first few steps you took to get your business up and running?
The first thing I did was attend a business class with Microsoft Skills. This class really helped me to start thinking business minded and to separate friendship and business. It also helped in knowing who my competitors were and my target market. These are all very very important key elements in building a business.
I found the transition very hard at first because I didn’t even know that gift baskets could be a business and I had to now make a conscious decision to start thinking business wise. I was told that my prices were too low and I had to separate friendship from business in order to get into the frame of mind that I was now a business owner.
I fought a lot of fears that I had as a business owner. It was hard to believe in myself even though I knew there was a need for my service. I had to learn how to trust in myself and connect with other resources, such as obtaining a content writer and a marketing/branding agency who helped to build my brand. I also went and registered my business and I got over my fear of doing a photoshoot. Once I conquered all these things there was such a peace!
I learned through these experiences that you have to believe in yourself 100 percent before others will believe in you. It wasn’t the belief that my services weren’t good – it was me telling myself I didn’t know if I could do this. Also, I had never seen myself as a business woman. However, I know myself and once I set my mind to something – I give it my all.
What has been the most effective way of raising awareness of your business and getting new customers?
I relied heavily on word of mouth. Now I do a lot of advertising on social media using Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and will be starting up on Pinterest and Etsy soon. But truth be told my first clients were people I knew and charity events that are very dear to me. Organizers already knew me on a personal level so they were more than comfortable developing a business relationship with me as well. Through those connections, word of mouth was a tremendous asset to me. One would tell another, and so on it went.
What have been your biggest challenges so far?/How did you overcome these challenges?
Diagnosed with Sickle Cell Anemia at the age of 2 years old and unsure if I would live past my 20s, I became fully aware of what it took to push through life’s obstacles. It is this resilience and determination that I used throughout my career and then with my business. I am learning to balance running a business and living with a chronic illness. I am doing well as my trust is strictly on God and his grace and mercy over my life.
Also, another challenge I am facing now as a business owner is the tremendous growth of my business. It is growing so rapidly, it took me by surprise. I am currently in the process of increasing my staff so I can continue to provide the best quality service to my clients in an efficient and timely fashion.
How do you keep motivated through difficult times?
As mentioned before, it brings me great joy to see others happy. It really fulfills me. There are times when I am so overwhelmed with this process and initiative, but the thought of disappointing a client is absolutely never an option. Once an order is completed and I see the joy it brings, I quickly realize that this is all worth it.
How do you distinguish yourself from your competitors?
My approach is to provide services that are as diverse and unique as the clients I serve. I represent a mixed, matched and personalized selection to satisfy any aesthetic or theme. Gift’d by Natasha is also recognized for its custom made and personalized gifts. Clients love to see their own personal initials on unique things. Our continuous goal is to provide gifts that tell a story.
What is the best advice you have received recently?
The only person you need to compete with is yourself. You need to take a moment to tap yourself on the back to see how far you have come.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?
Entrepreneurship is not easy but its well worth it. Be true to yourself and your brand. Take your time to develop and groom your brand – don’t feel pressured to go, be or do what you’re not ready to do. Remember all you have is your name so be true to yourself and your brand. Entrepreneurship is not for the faint of heart, it takes time and dedication. You need to seek someone who has passed your way before as a business owner and use them as your mentor.
Don’t be upset or discouraged when friends and family don’t support or understand your grind and why you work the crazy hours you do or the sacrifices that you need to make to build your brand. All you need to remember is that the vision and passion was not given to them – it was given to you to bless others.
What are your favorite business tools/resources and why?
I enjoy being a part of various chat groups on Twitter where other business owners come together to discuss various topics, business strategies, health and family etc. I must admit I am not that swift when it comes to social media. I know enough to get by and that is why I am looking for a Social Media Coordinator. I have learned to not be afraid to seek help in areas of your business that are not your strength. I must admit my favorite social media handle is Instagram as it’s easy to use and quick to upload pics and now you can add video’s and do live feeds.
What is a good article or book you have read recently?
“Girl Boss” by Sophia Amoruso.
What are you currently learning about for your business or looking for help with?
I am looking now to expand my business, looking for like minded people who are also creative and trend setters. Looking to connect with other business owners in a similar business like mine would be nice so I have someone to discuss or get advice from individuals about issues unique to my business.
I am learning just how important it is to keep an appearance on social media to help other clients or businesses know that my service is available to help them make and create memories or gifts that are from the heart. I would love to collaborate with other brands that provide unique services or products that we can offer to our clients.
What are your goals for the next few months and how are you striving to achieve them
My goal is to actually collaborate with other businesses especially those outside of Canada to help bring their products to Toronto. Grow my vendors list to provide other services as well as grow my staff so I can take on more clients and keep up with fresh aesthetics on all my social media channels. I plan to do so by placing my ads on social media outlets to look for the perfect fit for my company. I have been doing my research on companies that I have found through social media that are selling products that are different yet fashion forward.
Also, my long term goal is to have my brand in Toronto, USA and Europe to expand the services that I offer to include more concierge services as people’s lives become more and more busy. We aspire to have a baby service where we can help new mothers who are on bed rest use our services offered above but exclusive to babies.
What social media outlets do you use? List them below.