Photo by Morgan Pansing
Have you ever been given a gift that is just so perfect it brings tears to your eyes, but are left dumbfounded and lost when trying to do the same for a loved one or friend? Finding the perfect gift is a true art form and making an impression beyond a token bottle of wine is not as easy as it seems. Thankfully, there are people like LA-based Simone LeBlanc who are gifted at the art of gifting and can be called upon to create the most refined gifts that leave an emotional impact. Since forming her company in 2011, Simone has artfully created the perfect gifts for celebrities, philanthropists and everyone in between and specializes in carefully curating the perfect selection of items together in the most refined and luxurious package. For those of us who are staring into the upcoming holiday season like a (rein)deer in headlights, read on to discover how Simone has grown her business from a passion to a profession.
Simone, you’ve been called a “Professional Gifter” and the “go-to” resource for finding refined gifts. Were you always the one friends called on when they needed advice on the perfect gift?
I have been known to be a bit of a ‘secret source’! I deeply care about gifting and how we can use objects to convey emotion; how do we create connection and messaging through gifting? I have always designed, fabricated, explored, created…if my hands aren’t building or shaping in sync with my ideas, I am not truly in my element.
How did you transform your talent for gifting into a business?
As a former personal life-stylist, I created objects and gifts that resonated with my clients and their networks. I noticed a huge gap in the gifting space – no one was creating gifts in the tone that felt right for my needs. I needed a company that could provide me with fresh, personal and unique gifts in a volume capacity at a moment’s notice. I knew that if my clients needed this, others would as well.
The personal touch, the value of human connection and streamlined function are the core of my business as it is today – the source that makes tasteful, quality gifting easy. We work with businesses large and small, event planners, private clients and everyday customers. It’s something I enjoy tremendously.
Great entrepreneurs get out of their comfort zone. I like to take calculated risks and push beyond the edge of what you thought possible. If you’re excited about what you’re up to, others will follow your lead.
Did you have someone who really influenced and helped to develop your ideas in the early days? A mentor? What was that like?
I’ve had a few mentors and influencers, each contributing to where I am today. My first most significant was a teacher that I had in college while studying fashion in Paris – he guided me in the value of exploring ideas to their fullest, but the importance of working within real world deadlines and being able to communicate your vision to an audience succinctly. The next was my first philosophical and spiritual teacher who facilitated a deep understanding of transformation, intention, and a perspective on the human journey and now motherhood; all teachings that are a foundation of my everyday. Currently, I have a select group that I work with as my business grows into new territories. These current relationships have been cultivated over time. I’ve found that your mentor comes to you when you’re ready for them.
It appears that you can find the perfect gift for anyone for any occasion. How do you go about sourcing all of your products? Do you do it alone or do you work with a team?
I’m pretty much always ‘on’, so sourcing for me is really about editing and deciding what works best where. An object may catch my eye and inevitably, if it doesn’t make sense now, it will at some point down the road. At this point, my sources run deep…I lead this sourcing, but always welcome the point of view of my team. If they see something that feels right – I want to know, and I want to assess!
With the holidays right around the corner, we’ve been thinking about the perfect hostess gifts to bring this season. Can suggest five gifts so good we’ll be invited back every time?
One thing that sets you apart is your beautiful packaging. How have you approached branding and what are some things that you’ve learned along the way?
Thank you! I do spend a lot of time thinking about packaging and details. As far as branding overall, it’s about balance. Our brand voices is a combination of my instinct and personal point of view mixed with my respect and appreciation for my audience and customers. How can I say what needs to be said in a way that will connect, resonate, inspire and feel true? I deeply trust my instincts, but I do rely on sounding boards. I need second opinions, and this is where collaboration comes into play as well.
You’ve created gifts for everyone from celebrities to philanthropists. How did you market yourself in the early days and get so many influential clients?
I honestly have to say it’s been word of mouth mixed with old school entrepreneurial hustle. I do this for the love of it and the fact that it’s smart business, and people need it. True passion, an open ear to the feedback of your customers mixed with resiliency and hustle will get you anywhere you need to go. Because if there’s no path, you find a way to create it. As far as marketing specifically, I did not have any experience in this area before starting my business. I just knew that I had something that people would want and would solve their problem, so that allowed me to be open about sharing it.
Photo via Joie
True passion, an open ear to the feedback of your customers mixed with resiliency and hustle will get you anywhere you need to go.
What is the most memorable gift you have ever been given? Why was it to special?
A handmade miniature ceramic boot with grosgrain ribbon from 1890’s France. It’s the first gift my husband gave to me, after our first date. He was compelled to bring it to me against the advice of the shopkeeper and everyone around him; let’s just say it was not your typical ‘I’ve been thinking about you after our first date…’ type of gift. When I opened the box, I was shocked at how apropos the gift was. Unbeknownst to him, I collected miniature shoes and 1890’s France is an era that I love. I knew then that my life was about to take an entirely different direction, and it quickly did.
We often think the perfect gift would be the gift of time. If you had one day completely to yourself, how would you spend it?
An early am wake up and a walk in the woods with my daughter Lillian. (Preferably the redwoods of Northern California). Making breakfast as a family, taking a simple trip to the farmers market and then a few hours to just play. Currently, that play is about making clay objects. Lillian and I are creating miniature tea sets. I’d love to wrap up the afternoon at the Korean Spa by myself, and then have a couple of friends over for dinner at my house.
How can I say what needs to be said in a way that will connect, resonate, inspire and feel true? I deeply trust my instincts, but I do rely on sounding boards. I need second opinions, and this is where collaboration comes into play as well.
Do you have any Thanksgiving traditions that you look forward to?
Yes! We host Thanksgiving at our home, which I love. We stay in pajamas as long as possible, and Lillian (who is 2) has taken up our family tradition of setting the table with flowers and foliage from the garden along with a mix of our favorite flatware (brass, from my parent’s wedding) and place settings. We fold the linen napkins together, which is something that she is working very diligently on learning! We give thanks around the table – which of course always makes me a bit teary eyed. Then it’s games, rest and general laziness and a stop in from friends here and there. The morning after, we pull out my Grandmother’s Gumbo Pot and make a delicious turkey soup with the leftovers. It’s a cozy time of year around here!
Can you share 3 Pearl Of Wisdom on career and motherhood?
1. For Motherhood, I welcome and rely on the tried and true saying that “It takes a village.” This is a foundational point of view that I love – it calls up the importance of community, compassion, leadership and humility. It’s a constant reminder to me that I don’t have all of the answers, and that’s okay, and that’s how it’s always been in the lineage of parenting. Motherhood is a journey into an unseen territory, and you can call on the wisdom of a trusted community all the while bringing your voice and intuition to the conversation.
2. In business, knowing your strengths is essential. Bringing in the right team is paramount and knowing when to jump in and when to get out of their way is key.
3. Great entrepreneurs get out of their comfort zone. I like to take calculated risks and push beyond the edge of what you thought possible. If you’re excited about what you’re up to, others will follow your lead.
Photo by Morgan Pansing