Do you like charming, beautiful or adorable housewares and gifts? I sure do. And so does Sylvia Horn, the owner of Gifted, a shop in Waterloo.
Opened in the last six months, Gifted has already built a loyal following of customers who enjoy the warm and bright atmosphere of the store while looking for a meaningful present, or getting sidetracked and finding something for themselves.
“I had a long career in retail and was the chief buyer and merchandizer for the now defunct Booksmarts,” says Syliva. “It turns out I have a natural affinity for the gift industry and after Booksmarts closed, I decided it was time for me to try something on my own.”
Gifted offers a curated selection of cute and quirky home decor, giftware and fashion accessories from independent suppliers across North America. Her philosophy is to offer items her customers want versus trying to create the demand for items, like many big box stores do.
“I stand behind the products I choose for the store,” she says, “I never do a hard sell – thats not in my nature anyway – and I want to create the best environment for people to browse and delight in what they find.”
Supporting local designers and creators is also a part of her business philosophy. “Of the 50 design lines I carry, 12 are by Waterloo Region designers,” she says. ”I love supporting local artists especially as they often carry high-quality products that are unique to the area.”
Some popular locally designed items include coasters and onesies from Bearface Designs, wallets and totes from Cloud Rabbit Designs and typographical city maps by graphic designer Louise Jessup.
Sylvia is thoughtful about the aesthetic of the store, aware of the powerful influence of colours, lighting and music playing. The act of pulling disparate things together, creating colourful and fun vignettes throughout the store to inspire people and showcase the beautiful items, is one of her favourite elements as a store owner.
Marketing a new business can often be the biggest challenge for a startup enterprise but her strong sense of style and design displays well on social media, especially Instagram. “Customers often tell me they came into the store because of what we posted on Instagram,” she says. She also loves when customers post pictures of what they bought displayed in their homes. “It helps me visualize what people are interested in and I use that to buy more interesting items for the store,” Sylvia says.
Christmas is coming. You have gifts to buy and I highly recommend you visit Gifted. Frequently. You will find something great for the special people in your life and you will quite likely find something for yourself that you wish someone as clever as you would buy you.
P.S. Sylvia’s favourite topic of conversation: other’s people’s stories.