Plushbox, the Artisan Gift Studio is the first curated gifting service in Sri Lanka which started up in 2017 and has since grown to become the trendsetter in the gifting industry. From the two co-founders, Aleesha Thavarajah and Naafiah Saleem curating and packing boxes by themselves, the company now employs five and Salt had to have a chat with these amazingly energetic, fun and definitely busy ladies to find out how they revolutionized the gifting space with just a box.
There’s no one who would ever say no to being pampered with their favorite things, if they say ‘no’ then they’re probably just being polite. PlushBox has made gifting a breeze and their carefully curated PlushBoxes with well-matched goodies to suit the receiver are best described as eye candy. From an array of boxes to choose from, exclusive products, colorful ribbons and confetti we were completely mesmerized by the two talented heads put together to bring this creative brain child. Salt just had to have a chat with the two leading ladies and find out more about PlushBox.
1. How would you describe Plushbox and how are you different from other gifting services?
Aleesha: PlushBox is Sri Lanka’s pioneering curated gifting service. Our artisanal gift boxes and care packages are curated with meticulous care and attention to detail, using products that are elevated, indulgent and emotionally resonant. From birthdays, milestones to events and launches- whether you’re stuck for time or unsure of what to get, we’re here to help keep things thoughtful.
Naafiah: What makes us unique is that each gift is inspired and fabricated with products that are sourced beyond the generic local market. We love creating authentic aesthetics that are purposeful and relevant to the receiver.
2. Where did the idea for PlushBox come from and was it a difficult start?
Aleesha: Well it actually all began with a conversation between two designers who had equal love for all things beautiful. Naafiah was qualified in Architecture and me, in Interior Design. In our own experience, we were disappointed at how impersonal the process of gift-giving had become. We began to realize that many people found the process rather challenging and intimidating and therefore usually resorted to gifting a loved one a voucher. Being avid gifters ourselves, we usually ended up guiding our friends and family on what to pick and how to package it.
Naafiah: As we were very open to new ideas- after carrying out thorough research on gifting in SL, we gave ourselves a name, a look and a Facebook page. Our first ever batch of curated gift boxes went out the day before Valentine’s Day 2017. Once we put our heads together it was pretty clear that we needed to marry our skills as designers and love for great gifting and disrupt the local gifting space, one curation at a time!
3. Do you think your education and experience prior, played a role in starting up?
Aleesha: Yes. We both strongly believe that design is universal and therefore our backgrounds do play a big a role in our day to day- when it comes to theming curations, colour matching, graphics, branding and so on. I think personally for me I would have perhaps liked to have had somewhat of a soft background in business studies back in school- but instead I decided to pursue the science stream at the time (no regrets, though!).
Naafiah: Pretty much the same as well- I would have liked to learn more of the wider applications of design such as illustration, animations and graphics too. We are both learning on the go though, and trying to get as involved in knowledge sharing events and workshops as possible.
4. What might be the roadblocks you face being in the Gifting Space?
Aleesha: I think we face as many roadblocks as any other person when it comes to the daily hustle of running a business or start up in SL! Making sure suppliers stick to their deadlines and orders go out without any glitches, chasing payments, biting off more orders than we can chew (from time-to-time), finding that balance between carving out a niche and scaling the business- just to name a few.
Naafiah: One thing we have overcome is being anxious about competition. We used to keep track of the many social media enterprises who popped up after us and began doing what we do, sometimes copying our aesthetic and products or claiming to be the first gift box curation service in the local space.
Aleesha: After our very own personal journeys of growth, we realized that all we need to do is constantly evolve as a brand, strive to be better and serve better and most importantly never compromise on our quality, ethics and core-values as a business.
5. Being co-founders, have you had disagreements?
Aleesha: Being co-founders and childhood friends (plus women with strong personalities) there have been countable amount of times where either our ideas for the business or products have clashed or we’ve reacted to things differently and disagreed with each other! Bottom line is, though, the quick debates come and go- our respect for each other as business partner and friends is the glue that keeps everything together. (That and bonding over all the personal drama that goes on in our lives).
Naafiah: Just dropping each other a call after a disagreement to sort of say, ‘Hey, don’t like where we’ve left things, let’s talk about it’- has always helped turn things around.
Aleesha: Taking a step back in a situation and being rational and straight-forward with each other has helped plenty.
6. What’s next for PlushBox and where do you think the gifting industry in Sri Lanka is headed?
Aleesha: At the end of the day, gifting is a timeless tradition that has transcended many boundaries and brought people together. That says a lot about the space we’ve chosen to be in, and that’s why we are so emotionally invested in what we do. We see immense growth in the gifting space both locally and regionally. More and more people are inclined to purchase artisanal products and curations that carry products with a story, cause and are better for the user and the environment.
Naafiah: As for plans, our most favorite and busiest time of the year is now, so when we say that we are likely to be buried in boxes, ribbons and products till Jan 2019, we really aren’t exaggerating.
Aleesha: In the greater future of course, there are many exciting new possibilities. We are keen to get even more rooted in the corporate gifting sector and to diversify our services and revenue streams so we can also venture into new markets.
To check out Plushbox and their gorgeous curated themed boxes, visit their Instagram or Facebook page. We can’t be more excited to see where this dynamic duo is headed or what next they might come up with. One thing’s for sure, if we don’t get a Plushbox gifted to us this season, we’ll be ordering one for ourselves.