Elisabeth Jones-Hennessy, a former buyer for Bergdorf Goodman and Saks Fifth Avenue and former chief executive officer of Kilian Perfumes for North America, is launching an e-commerce platform called Gift Me Chic by Elisabeth Jones-Hennessy.
About 25 brands from around the world are featured on the site, offering shoppers a platform to buy unusual gifts from designers and artisans handpicked by Jones-Hennessy.
Brands include Assouline, Costa Brazil, Coqui Coqui, Fleur du Mal, Etnikarte, Kilian, Maison Ravn, Paige Novick and Ranjana Khan. The site also offers experiences such as “Red Wines for Fall,” for $150; Shelsky’s of Brooklyn brunch package, $200, and Créme de la Créme Caviar Package for $400.
Each experiential gift and several products found on Giftmechic.com are sold exclusively on the site and produced in limited quantities. Exclusive gifts include Maison de la Truffe sets, Studio Drift’s “Dandlelight,” Cardsome stationery, The Punctilious Mr. P’s Place Card Co., Innangelo scarves, and Maison Ravn handbags, among others.
“What I saw was missing in the e-commerce market was really a go-to destination for gifts. My goal is to offer new brands and products — those hidden gems that really excite consumers to buy thoughtful gifts that are hard to find. Whether it’s stationery from Norway or handwoven baskets by artisanal women in Rwanda — everything sold on the site features brands that were carefully sourced from around the world,” she said.
One of her favorite gifts on the site is Dandelight by Studio Drift, a little light sculpture, which is available for pre-order for $490. It ships directly from Amsterdam and is produced in limited quantities. Studio Drift harvests the dandelions, picks them, removes the seeds from the head, inserts the tiny LED light, and hand glues the seeds back into the head one by one.
Describing the impetus for launching the site, Jones-Hennessy said, “My passion has always been retail. When Kilian’s business got sold to Estée Lauder, this is when I stepped out on my own, and said I really need to get back to retail.”
She feels e-commerce is oversaturated with fashion, and felt a site dedicated to chic gift giving would be useful. “I found when I’m looking for birthday gifts or holiday gifts, I have to go to a multitude of different sites and weed through thousands of products, or I’m going to my local mom-and-pop shops. It’s a fun process, but it’s a timely process. What I really felt was missing was one go-to destination with products that are elevated. Whether something is $30 or $500, for me it’s about the beauty and aesthetic. It’s just finding things that are really special.”
When asked how COVID-19 has impacted her globe-trotting ability to discover new brands, she said, “Because my husband is French, I had the opportunity to go to Europe this summer, so I was really lucky to find a really cool brand in Marbella, which is a brand that comes from Colombia, which is artisanal women who hand-make beautiful bowls and jewelry, and the profits go back to their community,” she said.
Jones-Hennessy has gone to the Maison & Objet trade fair in Paris to find brands that are global. Or she has Norwegian friends who say she has to meet a great stationery brand from Norway. “My travels in the past influenced a lot of that, so now I have to be creative,” she said.
Giftmechic.com also publishes editorial content including designer interviews and advice on finding the best gifts for different occasions.
The site’s soft launch is today, and the hard launch is Nov. 16.
Jones-Hennessy will either buy and house the merchandise in New York, or hold it on consignment. Some of the smaller brands in the U.S. will drop ship. They will send it out with packaging that Jones-Hennessy created, which is an aubergine sueded pouch, in three different sizes with a silk ribbon, with a subtle debossed logo.
The site will be updated as often as new products come in.
“It’s going to be regular updates. I want to keep it exciting for the customer to discover newness both from a product and editorial standpoint,” she said.