Great ideas don’t often arrive wrapped up in a neat little bow—unless you’re Brenna Nichols. When friends began to ask Nichols to wrap their holiday gifts, she realized there might just be a business there. She just needed a name. The idea came during a dinner party brainstorming session: “It has to be Gifted,” assured dear friend Lisa Kinzelberg.
Gifted is the product of watching mother Sally, a former architect and incredible crafter, at work, and of her own experience in the corporate world—Nichols spent years as a brand manager at Miller Brewing Company, where she met her husband, John. “I’m a logistics kind of gal,” she says. “I love to organize.”
Nichols chose to leave the company after giving birth to oldest son Fisher, now 8. Shortly after, the young family made their move to the North Shore. “Being a stay-at-home mom had its perks and also its challenges—I loved the relationship-building that came with corporate life,” Nichols explains. While she knew, with two children now at home (Fisher was joined just a few years later by Bauer, age 5), that she did not want to return to a traditional office setting, Nichols was nonetheless determined to continue creating connections.
News quickly spread from the dedicated wrapping room on the third floor of her Winnetka home through her website, Instagram, and word of mouth across the Shore and now all over the country. Offerings have since expanded from gift wrapping to also include ideas as to what to put inside that shiny paper. “I have to get down to the nuts and bolts of relationships to gift the right way—it’s the details that help me land on the right gift,” she says.
The self-described “gift concierge” seamlessly guides clients through ideation, gift procurement, wrapping, and delivery. “Some clients are involved down to the color of the bow while others simply provide the who, when, and where (and the budget), and leave the rest to me,” Nichols says. Every step is tailored to their individual needs, whether they are dropping items off for same-day wrapping or working with Nichols 2-3 months in advance to plan out their gifting schedules.
Nichols is able to personalize gifts using her own vinyl cutting machine and heat press, from water bottles and wine tumblers to baby bibs and towels, all done on demand and in real time. “I help clients express themselves. A lot of people don’t know you can do that through gifting.”
She also offers decorating services for birthdays, baby showers, and truly spectacular installations for Christmas, adorning staircases and wreaths alike in perfect velvet bows. Another popular offering that time of year is her Christmas in a Box: everything wrapped and tagged and ready to go under the tree.
She has never gifted the same thing twice nor does she buy any supplies in bulk. “I want people to have a unique experience, to get something here they can’t get anywhere else,” Nichols shares.
“I love to make people happy, to spread joy,” she continues. One example of this involved friend and client Jen Felderman, whose daughter Reese battled childhood leukemia. Together they selected Yeti tumblers in hot pink—Reese’s favorite color—for her 13 nurses and state-of-the-art stethoscopes—in the same vibrant shade—for her two neurologists. The inscription read: Thank you for slaying my beast. “I was so honored to be a part of that story.” Reese has been cancer-free since July 2018.
“At the beginning, I didn’t know the scope of what this would turn into,” she reveals. She now works with around 20 clients at a time and, just last Christmas, handled a whopping 488 gifts, 206 of which she also selected. “What I hear most (and what I love to hear most) is, ‘You made my life so easy,’” she says. “Relationships are complicated—gift-giving doesn’t have to be.”
To learn more, visit Nichols at giftedforyou.com or on Instagram @gifted_for_you_.