SEEN sat down with Beatrice Wolnerman, owner and founder of the local gift box company Open Me When.
By Rachel Schostak
Photography by Beatrice and Eli
Beatrice Wolnerman shares insight into her career journey, how she started her gift giving business and some of her favorite spots in Detroit.
1. Tell us about yourself: I am the proud founder and owner of Open Me When, a premium gift box company providing a more personalized and elevated gifting experience. I personally curate each box, finding the most unique and luxe gifts from around the world. I then individually wrap each gift and attach a story to the item about why it is so special and why you will love it. Each box is finished with a personalized, handwritten note and packaged in a beautiful box, sent directly to the lucky recipient. All of our special touches add to the anticipation and excitement, adding a heightened level of fun and excitement to the gifting experience.
I grew up in Grosse Pointe, Michigan and always had a flair for creativity and a passion for leadership. After meeting at the University of Michigan, my now husband, Eli, and I both pursued other careers until I decided to take a risk to quit my job to start my own company. After getting married in July, we officially launched our website in August and began selling boxes right away. In the past six months since the launch, Open Me When has taken off beyond my wildest expectations; we have tackled giant custom orders, hosted a pop-up shop downtown for the holiday season and have been featured in many major publications around the world. Recently Eli has also quit his job to join me as my partner as we grow this business together. We couldn’t have imagined a better 2017 and can’t wait to see what 2018 holds.
2. Can you share a bit about how you got started with Open Me When? Growing up, I looked forward to every holiday season spent helping my mother with her annual Christmas tradition, sending out boxes of specialty chosen, individually wrapped gifts with stories attached to each of the customers at her printing company. The boxes took over our home, and eventually moved to a warehouse location to handle the demand. These gifts became a treasured tradition, with many families saving these boxes under their tree to open with together on Christmas day. After seeing what a memorable impact these corporate gifts had on the recipients, I knew that this concept could be turned into company and a career. I couldn’t wait to put my own spin on these special boxes and to share it with anyone, any time.
3. Who is your customer? Our customer is the gift giver who understands the importance of a personalized, unique gift and the experience that goes along with it. Our pre-curated boxes are a perfect solution for the person who has everything, or the person you have no idea what to get. All of our boxes are themed around the sentence “Open Me When…,” offering a special selection for any occasion. We have found that our customers (especially men) love being able to choose a box and just click send, taking out the hard work and the hassle of gift giving without losing any of the quality and thoughtfulness behind the gift. We also have enjoyed working with companies and individuals to create custom boxes that represent their brand and ideas for corporate gifting, wedding parties and other events.
4. Your most popular Open Me When box currently? Right now our most popular box is, “Open Me When You’re Going For The Gold” box full of luxe items in different gold hues, perfect for any girl who loves a little sparkle. Our customers love this box because the theme is general enough for a wide variety of occasions and the gifts inside are not only beautiful, but something that a girl would actually want. This box contains rose gold Bluetooth earbuds, a 22k gold candle that converts to a stylish cocktail glass, a cute bottle of mini white and gold matches, a gold pineapple bottle opener, two rose gold notebooks and the most adorable little pink and gold tin full of delicious chocolate truffles.
5. Do you have a personal favorite box? One of my personal favorites is “Open Me When There Are Snowflakes In The Air”. This was our special edition box for this past holiday season and the first time we tried out the new, see-through acrylic box. We received such great feedback on the fresh look and found that it made the recipients even more excited to open the box, peeking through to see the wrapped gifts just waiting to be torn open. This box contains cozy items to help you get through the cold weather by embracing “hygge,” the Danish term for the comforting, warm moments throughout the winter. One of my favorite items inside the box is a faux “snowball” that feels exactly like a real snowball sculpted from that perfect, crunchy packing snow. This item is imported from Norway, giving a special gift that you won’t find anywhere else in the U.S.
6. What have you learned since starting your own business? Any advice you would give to others who are thinking of starting their own business? Owning a business is completely different from the typical 9-to-5 job, but in the best way possible. You get to play every role, dealing with every challenge but also every reward. I had to teach myself how to handle finances, run a website and even took online photography classes to provide the content of our boxes. Our house has been taken over with packing materials, our dining room converted to a workspace and our living room furniture pushed to the corners of the room to make space for more inventory. It is because of this hard work that we are now in the process of moving into a warehouse space and taking on even larger, more advanced orders. The best advice I can give is to be patient, and keep persisting. You have to keep taking one step at a time and enjoy each little milestone along the way. Never lose sight of your end goal and don’t be afraid to dream big.
7. Where do you see your company going over the next five years? We can’t wait to see how much we will grow within the next five years, and are open to any and every opportunity that comes our way. My dream is to hire a team to help with the daily operations and to expand our offerings to retail locations in addition to our website. We have loved highlighting Michigan vendors in our “Open Me When You’re Down With Detroit” and “Open Me When You’re Smitten With The Mitten” boxes and hope to be able to travel to other cities and honor their local talents as well. Ultimately, we would like to be known as the go-to company for gifting for both individuals and companies wishing to provide a unique and personal gift giving experience around the world.
8. Tell us about your Valentine’s Day Box. Our Valentine’s Day box, “Open Me When You’re Mine, Valentine,” is full of sweet and romantic gifts that will make your loved one swoon. We are bringing back our popular luxe acrylic box, filled with our signature wrapped gifts with stories attached to each one. The items include a rose flavored tea, a heart felt keychain, a detoxifying rosehip and clay face mask, a pastel pink long-lasting nail polish and our favorite pink and gold miniature tin with chocolate truffles. The box is finished off with a beautiful rose gold satin ribbon. This special curation is our take on the classic and traditional Valentine’s Day gifts, adding our own luxe spin on the holiday with the elevated selection of gifts and most importantly, the presentation.
9. Who inspires you in the business world? I have been inspired by so many strong, brave men and women who have successfully started their own companies, but one of my favorites is Bethenny Frankel. I enjoyed watching her journey on “Real Housewives of New York City” and was so amazed with her unwavering confidence in her idea. She doesn’t let anyone push her around, and she never takes “no” for an answer — something that I struggle with in my own startup. She has turned her concept for a Skinnygirl cocktails into an empire of Skinnygirl products and has stayed true to her brand with each new endeavor. I can’t wait to buy some of her new Skinnygirl jeans!
10. Most favorite gift you, personally, have ever received? One of my favorite gifts was this past Christmas from my mom. She put together a package full of gift certificates for manicures, pedicures, facials and products for the ultimate day of pampering. She could see how stressed I was after our first holiday season at Open Me When and wanted to help me relax. It was thoughtful, personal and exactly what I needed.
Detroit/Metro Detroit local love list – some of your favs…
11. Are you a native Detroiter? What do you love most about our community? I grew up about 20 minutes out of the city and have enjoyed watching it evolve over the years. What used to be a place for an occasional night out is now a weekly tradition — trying new restaurants and exploring the flourishing neighborhoods full of cute shops. I truly contribute a large part of the success of Open Me When to our roots in Detroit, creating a business in a community full of people who have genuinely wanted to help us and see us succeed. Every person I have met has been exceptionally nice and generous; I can’t wait until it is my turn to help someone grow and lend my own helpful advice. We wanted to honor our amazing city by spotlighting some of the local artists and vendors, featuring our favorite products in our box, “Open Me When You’re Down With Detroit.”
14. When not working… we can find you____ Hanging out with my two cute pugs, Willie and Otto! I love to take them for a walk, run around at the dog park,or snuggle up on the couch.
15. What do you love most about your community? I feel blessed to be a part of many communities, but especially most recently, the young entrepreneur community. We live in a time where anyone can start a business and use social media to increase brand awareness and gain valuable connections as well as interact with other people in the same situation. The influencers, vendors and just overall friendly people I have met in Detroit through Open Me When has made this experience positive and enjoyable, inspiring and encouraging our dreams.
16. Favorite quote or words to live by? “Stop and smell the roses.” It’s easy to get caught up in the crazy life of starting a business, but it is important to stop and look back, to celebrate everything that you have accomplished to get you to this point. Take a break, have a glass of wine — you deserve it.
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