Our stockist series continues with Steely Anderson of Bon Vivant Gift Boxes, from right here in Austin, Texas! Not unlike Slow North’s own philosophy, Steely saw a need for thoughtful craftsmanship and took matters into her own hands. In August of 2016, she transitioned from an eight-year tenure in recruiting to a more creative, fulfilling venture.
Steely set out to make gift boxes that truly made meaning out of gift-worthy events and helped recipients feel loved. With an eye for design and an affinity for responsibly-made, beautiful goods, Steely curates the dreamiest gift boxes imaginable. It’s an honor to be among the incredible products she’s sourced. Take a minute to learn more about Steely and the unforgettable gift boxes we all hope to receive one day!
When did you first think of opening Bon Vivant Gift Boxes?
I first thought of it when I worked for a local recruiting firm a few years ago. We were always looking for unique and convenient gifts for our clients, and I often found myself running around like a crazy person trying to put something together that wasn't just flowers or cookies. I couldn't find a local business that offered this type of gift service – high-end, represented our firm well, and aesthetically beautiful and convenient. I saw a need in the corporate world and knew that I would appreciate it for personal gifts.
What is the story behind the name, Bon Vivant?
The name was actually one of the last major decisions I made when I started this business! After months of not having any clue, a girlfriend of mine met me for coffee and brought a thesaurus. After I stopped laughing, I realized that this was actually a great idea, and the very first name she had highlighted was Bon Vivant. She read the translation to me, and I LOVED IT. It resonated, it sounded special and yet not too challenging to pronounce, and the meaning relates to how I want people to feel: luxurious. I am forever grateful for my dear friend and her thesaurus.
Why gets you excited about curating these gifts?
Literally everything! I love sourcing the brands and products that we feature because they are all made with so much love. I also really love handwriting the sweet messages because it always warms my heart to see people spread so much love. I'm obsessed with all of the details, and just knowing that this gift is going to make someone’s day is what it's all about.
How do you find the right products/know you've created the best gift box for the occasion?
My mission is to focus on small-batch, ethically-made goods. I research products online, starting with ones that I use and love myself. I test them all (which might be my fav perk), and then I think of various themes for the boxes: Spa, Housewarming, Thank You, etc. I love a gorgeous aesthetic and try to curate the gifts so they are cohesive and offer a good variety of products from both small and some larger, more well-known ones so that there is some familiarity.
What do you hope people feel/experience when they receive a Bon Vivant Gift box?
The name Bon Vivant translates to a person who enjoys a luxurious and social life, especially with respect to food and wine. I want each recipient to feel like a Bon Vivant when they receive their gift. I want the gifts to be useful and I want them to appeal to all of the senses so that it's a whole experience.
What encouragement/warning would you give to someone opening their own shop or small business? I'm a huge advocate for community over competition want to encourage others to follow their dreams. My advice would be to not be afraid to fail – or be afraid, but don't let it stop you from trying! Failures are good in the long run because each one allows you to grow and get closer to success. Be prepared to work really hard and have days consumed by self-doubt; but know that brighter days are ahead and it's all part of the journey. Have a good support system - whether it's your significant other, family, or a network/community that in which you’re involved. You will need people to turn to, vent to, share ideas with, cry to, laugh with, celebrate with... it's very hard to run a business alone so don't put that kind of pressure on yourself when there are so many people out there that want to help and are there to listen and share their experiences as well. That always keeps me going when I'm having doubts.
What is your favorite activity when you turn off your shop owner switch?
WINE. And when I'm not yes way roséing, I love fitness and being active. I go for runs with my dog/friends, do boot camp, and love to try new classes around town. I also love to cook at home with my husband, it's relaxing and therapeutic (as long as he's doing the dishes, ha!).
What are your favorite products for pampering yourself?
I think I'm pretty typical because I love fresh flowers, a really good (Slow North) candle, a glass of wine, some good music, bath salts, a face mask. With those things, I'm basically the happiest girl on the planet.
What is your favorite place you've visited, and what makes it so memorable?
Wow, this is a tough one. Traveling is what makes me happiest. Even just taking a little staycation in Austin still gives me the same feeling of being stimulated by new surroundings and sparks creativity. I spent two weeks in Burundi and although it may not be the most beautiful place I've visited (though it is beautiful!), I went with a very special group of people, and we were there to see the real impact that building clean water wells for the people there has had. I fell in love with the people and the country, and the experience changed my life forever.
What would you do if you had a full day off and could do anything/go anywhere?
I give myself full days off every week – it's so important! The last thing I want is to get burnt out and resentful towards my business, and I'm the type of person that has to give myself space. In an ideal world, I would get a room at Hotel Saint Cecilia, hang by the pool with a book, and SLEEP! It's one of my favorite places on earth.
What are the top three must-see/must/do activities in Austin?
- Checking out live music at Continental Club
- Going to Salt Lick BBQ or Franklin’s BBQ
- Getting drinks on the patio at Perla's or Hotel San Jose (because Frosé)
What small actions/practices make a big different in your day?
Definitely meditating. I admit I don't consistently mediate every morning for 20-30 minutes, but I do take at least 5-10 minutes almost every day to sit in stillness and quietness. When I feel overwhelmed and my mind is cluttered, meditation always makes me feel better and gives me clarity. Getting a good workout in never fails to make me feel like I can take on the world. I also love taking my dog Chopper to the trail. Watching him run around and get in the water makes me so happy!
What else should we know about you?
I have a weird talent: remembering song lyrics. My brain is literally 90% song lyrics and 10% everything else. I'm obsessed with iced green tea and have it every day. I love interior design and decorating. I love entertaining and making people feel special. I wish I could eat spaghetti and meatballs every single day of my life. I love animals and convinced myself that I'm an animal whisperer (I'm not). I'm also extremely grateful to live in this amazingly supportive city and get to do something that I love.