Today, we’re introducing you to a super-talented friend of ours (and, fun fact, Courtney’s college roommate!) who has mastered the art of gift giving – Emily Green of Ophelia Ruth! Emily’s goal is to make it easy for her clients to make someone feel special through the perfect gift, and based on what Emily says powers Ophelia Ruth, we get along just fine. (Is it time for a glass of red wine yet?) Without further adieu, here’s Emily to tell you how she helps clients (including brides) piece together the most thoughtful gifts. (P.S. Don’t forget to read to the bottom to find out how to win TWO of Emily’s amazing gift boxes – one for you and one for a friend!)
What services do you offer, and how can current and future brides benefit from them?
We work with our clients to create thoughtful, beautiful gifts. These gifts range from creating an individual, one-of-a-kind gift for a special person, to creating large volumes of the same gift for a group. For example, I love the idea of creating a really special gift for the mother-of-the-bride. If she’s anything like my mom, she was with me through the ups and downs of wedding planning. Pausing to give her something thoughtful and meaningful to your relationship on your wedding day is so special (and a photographer’s dream!).
On the large volume side, I work with brides and grooms to create bridesmaids gifts, groomsmen gifts and wedding welcome gifts. Using a gifting company is really beneficial for a bride for so many reasons. First, I really value a collaborative relationship with my clients, so I think brides really benefit from that. We work together to identify the most important aspects of the gift(s), utilizing and blending the bride and groom’s knowledge of their relationship and/or wedding and my expertise and experience. In the end, they have a gift that reflects them and their wedding, and it’s something they’re proud and excited to give their guests or wedding party.
The most pragmatic benefits are sourcing, price and logistics. I work with vendors all over the country (and world!), already have existing relationships and often present the bride with unique items they might not have thought of. Similarly, working through a gifting company helps your budget go further because of those vendor relationships. And unless you have a warehouse and staff, you’ll definitely reap the benefits of having someone else store and assemble your gifts! An assembly line mess is the last thing a bride wants to think about weeks (or days) before her wedding.
Your brand is adorable! What inspired you to start the business, and how did you come up with the name Ophelia Ruth?
Thank you! It seemed that the stars really aligned when I started my business…like years of inspiration and experiences all finally added up and I realized my purpose. I’d say I’ve always had a heart for giving and gifting, so that passion has always been there for me. Even as a kid, I remembered really obscure or abstract things about people, which made me a great gift-giver. When I was planning my wedding in 2015, I quickly realized that creating welcome gifts for our guests was my favorite part. I loved finding and creating things that really spoke to our relationship, our destination (Savannah!) and our guests.
Similarly, throughout my career in marketing, I was always searching for ways to give and gift people to show them my appreciation. My husband owns and engineering firm, and he was having the same problem: he wanted to give but didn’t know how. I started to realize that so many people had the same desire, but they didn’t have the time, resources or creativity for it. So, in 2016, I launched Ophelia Ruth to help fill that gap and offer gifting services.
In terms of where the name came from: Ophelia and Ruth are names belonging to my grandmother and great grandmother. They were and still are so inspiring to me. I grew up hearing stories of how much they valued both beauty and generosity, despite having little to nothing (especially by today’s standards). To me, their names represent the thoughtfulness, kindness and graciousness that the women in my life exemplified for me. In some ways, it can be easy to get caught up in the gift itself (its price, presentation, etc.,), so the name reminds me to always come back to the heart of my business: giving. To that end, we use part of our proceeds to create gift boxes for the homeless. I firmly believe everyone deserves to feel valued and thought of, so we take simple necessities and package them purposefully and beautifully for those in need.
What is the process for helping a bride customize a gift(s) that suit both the giver’s and recipients’ personalities?
This is the best part! I absolutely love helping my clients understand themselves and their recipients. The first step of the process is a questionnaire, which helps me get to know the bride, but also helps the bride start thinking more about concretely about the wedding’s style, what they’re hoping to express to their recipients and what their ultimate desire is.
I worked in marketing for architecture firms for years, and I was always fascinated with the tools they used to help people find and express their sense of style. I’ve implemented a lot of those tools into my process, which works really nicely. I also strongly value communication, and tend to have a knack for really hearing and understanding people. Because of that, I require at least one in-person meeting (phone or FaceTime for those long-distance clients!). I find that it fosters a personal conversation and connection in a way that email communication just can’t. It’s really important for me to be able to ask questions, see where conversations lead and get a feel for my clients’ personalities.
If we’re gifting a single recipient, I really like to pick my client’s brain about their personality, likes/dislikes and memories or bonds they might have with them (particularly for those one-of-a-kind gifts). And through all of this, I tend to find that there is always an overlap between the giver’s and recipient’s personalities – sometimes you just have to look a little harder. But finding that common ground, or uncovering that special memory, and then creating a gift that speaks to both groups is the ultimate goal. And let me tell you: the end result is always so, so special.
What is your favorite gift project you’ve worked on yet?
This is tough! I love working on anything that has heart behind it. There’s nothing better than helping someone communicate their message, which is really what gifting is. One of my favorite projects was creating a one-of-a-kind gift for someone who had just been told they were officially cancer free. My client really wanted to celebrate with her, despite the long distance between them. Working to create a gift that connected the two of them was so fun and touching. I also really enjoy working on projects that include heirloom-quality pieces. And by that I mean gifts that are truly meant to be lasting, timeless pieces. For example, one recent gift included a beautiful, herringbone Italian wool throw with a phrase that was special to the recipient embroidered on it. The recipient absolutely loved it and was so touched. Uncovering these meaningful memories or moments, and then creating gifts around them, is absolutely the most thrilling and special part of this job.
You’re located in Dallas, TX. What is your protocol for working long-distance with a bride from Alabama, Georgia or Mississippi?
Most of my clients are actually long distance, so it’s really common for me. After the initial inquiry, I ask brides to fill out a questionnaire I created. Her answers really give me a sneak peak into who she is (and what her dreams and hopes for her wedding are), which enables us to dig a little deeper on our first phone call. During that call we discuss her desires for the gifts themselves, as well as budget, timelines, logistics, etc. Using that information, I create gift concepts (sort-of mood boards that include the contents, packaging, design, details). I give her some time to review those, and then we hop on the phone to discuss. After one or two iterations, we create the final design, and then I start fulfilling the order. I work with the bride (or her wedding planners) to create a logistics/shipping plan that works best for the individual wedding, particularly if it’s long distance.
Describe your personal style and how it plays out in your business.
I’m the girl who wears black, white…and grey when I’m feeling wild. My husband describes my style as “timeless urban chic.” I’d say my personal style is about 90 percent classic and timeless, reserving 10 percent for urban and modern touches. I value simplicity, good clean design, and refinement. I have a soft spot for graphic design and packaging, so I put a huge amount of attention into the presentation of our gifts. I tend to attract brides who have a modern, classic or understated aesthetic. They value quality over quantity and have a really timeless taste. I don’t design gifts based on trends or what’s happening at the moment; I design a lot of lasting, heirloom-quality gifts. The brides that are attracted to me want to create memories even more than they want to create gifts.
What’s your favorite way to relax after a long day at work?
My favorite way to relax after a long day at work is with a long walk with my husband and dog, a good glass of bourbon (I’m a bourbon girl, through and though!), and a bubble bath with a big ol’ stack of design magazines.
Win an Ophelia Ruth gift box – for you and a friend!
Invision Events and Ophelia Ruth have partnered to give away TWO curated gift boxes at up to $300 total value – one for the winner and one for a bestie, hubby or anyone of her choosing! To enter, simply tag a friend you’d like to surprise with a thoughtful gift box on Invision’s Facebook post (for this blog post, only!) or on Instagram. Winners will be announced June 26. Best of luck!