INSPIRED: Lee Coleman

Lee Coleman is the founder of Quintessentially Gifts, a luxury service that handpicks the world’s best and most unusual gifts, offering customers a stress-free shopping experience.

Lee works with some of the U.K.’s best and most experienced gift researchers, personal shoppers and editorial stylists, working in collaboration with some of the world’s most skilled craftsmen. Her customers range from members of the British aristocracy to Middle Eastern sheikhs, as well as people who simply want to find the perfect present.

Here, she reveals what makes a good present, what advice she’d give to gift-makers and her tips for making your own business a success.

Tell us a bit about your career background…

I am originally from Virginia in the U.S.A., and after working in London with the international luxury travel members service Nota Bene, I started at Quintessentially Gifts as a part of the team [Lee founded the company but already had a team in place to help her with the initial start-up stages] – two years later I was the M.D.!

Before that, I was in New York, creating white label collections for companies such as Victoria’s Secret and Bloomingdales.

What was the idea behind Quintessentially Gifts?

Quintessentially Gifts is a sister company of the luxury concierge service Quintessentially and we are the luxury gift, product and shopping arm of the company. We are a global personal shopping and styling service and connect our clients to products from all over the world. But more than that, the service is a solution for our clients as well – many of them work, travel, live and play in many different cities and countries and want to send gifts, buy luxury goods or just have some advice or styling.

What do you think makes a good ‘gift’?

It sounds obvious, but when you are choosing a gift for someone, you should put yourself in their shoes. What’s new in their life? What may they need? What wouldn’t they splurge on for themselves? The best gifts are ones that someone would have thought about, but never indulged in buying for themselves.

What has been the highlight of your career so far?

Going onto Facebook and realising that a friend of a friend had shared an image from our website, saying it was the coolest thing they’d seen! Seeing that made me feel like things were happening.

What advice would you give to gift-makers?

Everyone involved in our business has been working in the fashion or luxury business for years and in some ways it’s a very organic process for us, so we often use our personal contacts when helping out our clients. That way we have had the opportunity to vet them and ensure they are going to consistently deliver what is promised. We find that there is a hugely renewed sense of sticking to products and brands that are authentic and have a story – not just a cracking marketing team behind them. We have great taste and high standards – so we want our suppliers to too!

What advice would you give to budding business owners?

The best piece of advice I was ever given was don’t do business with difficult or dishonest people. My mother told me this when I was younger, and it is something I re-learn time and time again and it’s completely true – don’t waste your time on people that don’t want to work with you honestly. It sucks your energy and keeps you from connecting with the people that really matter.

Visit the Quintessentially Gifts website and follow the company on Twitter: @QGifts.

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