Looking for the perfect gift? Like a little something to boost your BFF’s spirits after her boyfriend splits and breaks her heart? Maybe a care package to let your first-time camper know mom misses him? Or a goody bag for your best man, the one guy you can always count on to make a killer craft cocktail? If you’re like me and can’t bear the thought of ordering one more generic bouquet, I’ve got a hot tip for you. Create your own unique customized gift with Knack!
Knack is an online gift website, but that’s not how I discovered them. As it turns out, their headquarters are practically around the corner from where I live, a block away from Old School Frozen Custard, my favorite neighborhood ice cream shop. I’d driven by a number of times and noticed their intriguing window displays. One day, on my way to get a pint of ice cream, I decided to check them out. I am so glad I did because I found the online gift store of my dreams featuring high quality artisan products, many from businesses in the Pacific Northwest.
Founded by Laura Jennings, and launched November 2015, Knack started with the question: What would it look like to create an e-commerce experience that celebrated the customer as the creative force? Laura, who previously worked at Microsoft for over a decade, was inspired by a candy shop in Barcelona that allowed people to make witty custom labels for candy jars. She thought it was such a great way to give shoppers a way to be inventive with their purchases.
Laura told me Knack was built around the customer first and gifts came second. “Can you think of a time when you gave someone a gift you were so excited about, you couldn’t wait for them to open it? Their eyes will just light up at the memories. For us, that’s the essence of giving—finding great joy in knowing you’ve nailed it with a gift that’s absolutely perfect for someone.”
Knack—How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. First, in the gift collections on their site, you will find pre-curated gifts that Knack creates. Browse ingenious collections like Bridesmaids & Besties, Outdoor Fun and For the Bartender. You can also edit your gift and customize by adding, removing, or exchanging products. Or, if you’re a DIY sort of person, you can build your gift from scratch by picking any and all of the products you like, in any number or combination. You even get to name your creation. Sound daunting? No worries because Knack’s user-friendly website walks you through each step. If you get stuck, like I did with a packaging question, Knack offers online LiveChat, email and old-school customer service by phone. I found their staff to be super friendly, helpful and knowledgeable.
The second reason I fell hard for Knack? Their artisan products. Laura emphasized, “We look for artisans with fantastic stories, and then get to know them so we can help share those stories. Our merchants are the kind of people who’ve taken over a fourth generation family business, taught themselves a craft, quit their days jobs and moved across the country to pursue their passions.”
With over 130 merchants and more than 1200 products, Knack covers a lot of gifting ground. Just take a look the adorable gift set for kids with a Crayon & Notecard Travel Folio designed just for Knack by Impwear, a Seattle business I’m keen on, who made the cute Impwear rooster hat I scored for my daughter to wear when we visited Kauai. Of course, since I live in Washington State, I’m really impressed with all the merchants who hale from the Pacific Northwest.
Some of Knack’s best sellers are in their bar and cocktail line. I loved the Nightcap Joybar Towel designed exclusively for Knack by John Choe of That Black Dot, and the blue beverage glassware by Usful Glassworks, handcrafted using “upcycled” bottles in Boise, Idaho by participants in the Usful Glassworks job training program.
Craft fairs like Renegade Craft and Urban Craft Uprising are where many of the artisans Knack represents are found. They also discover businesses by word of mouth and through social media. I was really glad to hear that many of the businesses in Knack’s merchant community are owned by women and local–sometimes really local, like around the corner. Knack also leans toward businesses committed to a sustainable or philanthropic mission.
Laura says they make great efforts to form a personal connection with their merchants, whether it’s dropping by to pick up a product in person and meeting a grandson playing underfoot, driving out to see honeybee hives, or getting the first glimpse (or taste) of a new prototype they want to show her. It’s this kind of business philosophy that makes me want to shop at Knack and sing their praises. I completely agree with Laura that combining products from all these merchants in a single gift “tells a unique story.” And, as many of my readers know, I love a unique story!
I couldn’t believe how many innovative ideas I found on their site, and I am a picky gift giver who really tries to find just the right thing. Knack suggests gifts you might like by product, artisan, and category. Remember the BFF I mentioned earlier with the recent breakup? You could send her the Write Him Off or The 4 Stages Of A Breakup box. Your little camper? Love & Kisses From Home. Best man extraordinaire? Retreat to the Man Cave or Bloody Mary Mornings. I spent a lot of time perusing ideas on the site simply because of Knack’s hilarious gift set titles (yes, I’m a sucker for that sort of thing), but even more so because they have a such broad audience appeal: men, women, kids, old, young, risque, traditional…it’s all there, right at your fingertips.
Last, but definitely not least, is Knack’s gorgeous packaging. Once again they knock it out of the park with several cool options like the ‘K’ box below. From a simple gift bag to a clear plastic paint can, the gifts are beautifully displayed. You can add a personal message to the recipient of your gift at checkout, and—I thought this was really clever—Knack includes a “Knackbook,” with a table of contents and stories about the artisans represented by the products you picked.
Guess what? Knack even sends you a photo of your “precious cargo.” What a fantastic feature. Here’s what my gift—Serenity—looked like, tiny Tillandsia plant and all.
Knack’s showroom is located in Seattle, in a building that was once the site of Fran’s Chocolate Factory. How cool is that? If you’re local, after placing your order online, you have the option to pick up your gift in-store. Or, for $8, you can have it delivered by a PostMates courier, in minutes. Of course you don’t have to be a Seattleite to take advantage of Knack’s creative and fun experience, just hop online wherever you are!
What are you waiting for? Go create a really cool gift!
It’s all about the journey,