These gifts keep giving: Sisters, close friend follow passion with Something Splendid gift box business

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An idea to launch an online gift box company took shape after a casual dinner conversation between sisters Elyse and Erynn Petruzzi and their close friend, Allison Pirtle.

Six months later, in 2019, the three Carmel residents decided to start Something Splendid as what Elyse described as a side hustle.

“It was fun for us to go and find perfect gifts for people, whether they were personalized or really unique,” Elyse said. “We would spend weekends going to small gift shops. We all enjoy giving a gift, and that made it easy to transition into a gift box company. We started with trying to find as many companies as we could to incorporate (their products) into the gift boxes. It has grown national. We have certain values in what we pick. It can be woman-owned, it can be a company that gives back. We will preference those over other companies.”

Elyse said the company experienced tremendous growth in 2020.

“We were all fortunate enough to leave our jobs and take this on full time,” said Elyse, adding each of the women left their full-time jobs at different junctures in 2020.

The business started in Elyse’s spare bedroom in downtown Carmel. The business partners now rent warehouse space in Westfield. They plan to have a gift store and warehouse space on Mill Street in Westfield by the fall of 2022.

Elyse said during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, people were not going out to shop.

“People wanted to stay connected,” Elyse said. “We put a hand-written note in all the boxes. People will pick a card and write a note to whoever they are sending a gift. During the pandemic, I think that was the way of people connecting. It was very empowering to see the type of notes people were sending. Companies were working remotely, and they wanted to incentivize and show appreciation, and they came to us at that time. We did (work for) companies like Snapchat, Spanx, Microsoft, Google, really big companies during that time.”

Erynn said the company was perfectly positioned to spread cheer when the pandemic began. Care packages to nurses were especially popular.

Pirtle said all three build boxes and select inventory for the website.

“Elyse’s main role is the books,” Pirtle said. “Erynn does more of the social media. I do more of the buying for the inventory. But I would say we dabble in it all because we have to. It’s a total startup. It’s all hands-on deck all the time.”

Erynn said all three have a marketing background. She said she concentrates on keeping up with trends.

“We’re all versatile and eager to learn new things,” Erynn said.

Erynn, 27, studied psychology at Indiana University while Elyse, 35, majored in education at DePauw University. Pirtle, 36, has a degree in selling and sales management. Elyse graduated from Carmel High School in 2007 and Erynn is a 2013 CHS graduate. Pirtle, a longtime friend of Elyse, is a 2005 Hamilton Southeastern High School graduate.

One thing that surprised the partners were their buyers’ desires.

“When we started the company, we thought a lot more people would like the curated and having an already built-to-ship gift box,” Erynn said. “But it’s exciting for us as we see a ton of our customers go and build their own for each gift recipient. We have a higher percentage of customers building their own because their mom and their best friend have different likes.”

The website features more than 300 items that can be viewed by theme and seasons. Popular items include candles and treats, such as candy and cookies.

Elyse said they can find specific items that are not on their website and include them in the gift boxes.

Pirtle said they also can brand items for companies in corporate gift boxes.

“So, they can give those to their employees for an event or appreciation gift,” Pirtle said.

November and December are naturally their busiest months of the year.

“We’re packaging orders every day,” Pirtle said. “We had a corporate order of 800 boxes, and they want them there by a certain date. Some days we are building those, but we’re not shipping them out until next week.”

Erynn said when the founders first started the business, they were getting orders by word of mouth.

“Right now, we’re focusing on social and Google ads to bring traffic to our website,” Erynn said. “We also have earned media. We’ve had articles in People and Forbes.”

For more, somethingsplendidco.com.

From left, Elyse Petruzzi, Allison Pirtle and Erynn Petruzzi package gift boxes at the Something Splendid warehouse in Westfield. (Photo by Ann Marie Shambaugh)

Family ties

While some might be concerned about working on a business venture with family members or good friends, it has been a perk for sisters Elyse and Erynn Petruzzi and their longtime friend, Allison Pirtle.

“It’s definitely fun. We get to hang out with sisters and best friends,” Pirtle said. “It’s a startup, and it is stressful with how much is going on. At least it makes it more fun because we have a passion for it. It’s not just a mundane job where you are sitting at a computer. We get to interact. We get to see the orders coming in and see the notes and orders they pick. It’s something different.”

Erynn said there are other perks, too.

“When we have victories with the business, we get to celebrate with our business partners and our best friends,” she said. “It makes it extra special and meaningful for us.”

Erynn and Elyse live across the street from each other.

“We work out together. There is not much we do apart,” Elyse said. “I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

Erynn and Elyse had already worked together at their uncle’s battery company.

“We knew how each other worked in a professional setting,” Erynn said. “So, it wasn’t scary (thinking) are we going to bump heads.”


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