10 Minutes With: Gifts For The Good Life
As soon as we saw this year’s Engage! invitations, we knew we had to find out who was behind the incredible packaging. For the past 22 years, Gifts for The Good Life has been “artfully storytelling” through branded gifts. Lucky guests who are invited to an event with one of their imaginative creations are sure to be blown away. We sat down with business partners (and sisters!) Susan Turnock and Heather Arak-Kanofsky, the minds behind the magic, for the inside scoop on how they bring their gifts to life!
Tell us a bit about stationary design – how did you get your start in this industry?
Heather: My husband, Nathan and I created our own hand-printed wedding invitation 22 years ago. As artists and printmakers we saw a niche in stationery for custom destination invitations. Over the years, we became well known for one-of-a-kind luxurious stationery suites, often presented as hand bound books. It was always challenging when our clients would ask us to create accessories and extend the "branding" we had established, because we were a small boutique company. At that time, Susan had her own company, creating innovative bath products that were sold on QVC and 3000 stores nationwide.
Susan: We always knew we would join forces as we had many "businesses" together growing up, and this seemed like the perfect time to intersect. The marriage between art and product led to creating artfully branded gift experiences that were an extension of the invitation.
We fell head over heels for this year’s invitation to Engage! Can you share with us how you come up with such innovative packaging?
We have always been in love with the concept of advent calendars and pop-up structures. Since we knew that this Engage! was highly anticipated, we wanted to incorporate a countdown of sorts. Our goal was to start with a "pre-pre" arrival that presented the itinerary and attire suggestions in a fun interactive way. Then the pre-arrival gift would be an advent full of small gifts that heightened excitement and accessorized travel.
What are some perks and challenges of working with your sister?
Heather: Seriously, I love every minute of the creative process with my sister! We work really well together- collaboration and entrepreneurship was what we were brought up on. I consider myself very lucky to have two amazing partners (my sister and my husband) that I can share this with.
Susan: It’s all perks! The only challenge is that we are geographically 3 hours away from each other. Which just means a lot of Facetime and phone calls. We balance each other out and are good editors of each others work - but we are pretty in sync when it comes to design aesthetics and strategy. Nathan (Heather's husband and our partner) is the perfect addition to our duo, as he engineers and brings to life whatever we come up with!
What do you enjoy most about your work?
Heather: My partners and our team, first and foremost. We have the best time brainstorming and seeing our ideas come to life. I love our clients and the partnerships we've developed. This work is challenging and rewarding on a daily basis.
Susan: That each client and project is completely different from the day before. We have a very diverse client list that keeps us on our toes and demands fresh and clever thinking (which we love!)
Who or what inspires Gifts for the Good Life?
Heather: We are pop culture hounds and design fiends. Growing up in a house where design was valued and creative expression was considered paramount made Susan and I lifelong lovers of visual art and the written word.
Susan: Any form of art or design. Watching various industries (not associated with events, weddings or design).
How do you see the stationary business growing in the years to come? Will trends shift more towards e-vites?
Our stationery company, Arak Kanofsky Studios, morphed into GGL over the last 5 years, after we saw the possibilities in our growing business. Don't get us wrong, we still create a lot of items out of paper, but now most of what we create is three-dimensional and interactive.
With Gifts for the Good Life’s huge audience, how does your brand create designs to fit the varying needs of its many clients?
We listen. We're lucky that our clients are articulate communicators who know their brands. So we follow Vanilla Ice's sage advice from "Ice, Ice Baby"; "Stop. Collaborate and Listen." Since we have the facility to make anything, it is our job to communicate the right message in the most creative way. We concept and design for each client - rather than for GGL.
What is the most common occasion that Gifts for the Good Life provides invitations for? What is your most popular design right now?
Weddings and corporate events. Since everything we do is custom, it is created specifically for the client/event we are working on.
What’s next for Gifts for the Good Life?
Hopefully getting to do more of the same challenging, creative work that pushes us and let's us try new things! We are excited to be expanding into Pop-up gifting experiences; creating and curating Pop-up boutiques for private and corporate events as welcome experiences… elongating that gifting moment.
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