Entertainment Arts Gift Elements: How a fledgling business survived the pandemic by giving what...

Gift Elements: How a fledgling business survived the pandemic by giving what busy professionals want

Their venture, which they had started almost as a hobby, morphed into a plan to transform it into an e-commerce business—creating and selling scaleable products globally. How's that for ambition?

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Singapore — Sisters Nealda and Eva Sahib started a business in Singapore in 2016, offering gift-wrapping services. They hoped to emulate the success of such services in Japan and South Korea.

Then they got ambitious.

Photo: Eva Sahib, Courtesy of Gift Elements LLP

Their venture, which they had started almost as a hobby, morphed into a plan to transform it into an e-commerce business—creating and selling scaleable products globally. How’s that for ambition?

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The sisters’ plan, related to gifting in the event’s industry, was to charge right into the billion-dollar wedding industry.

By 2019, Gift Elements became a full-fledged e-commerce website offering invitation cards, gift tags and sticker labels.

What set Gift Elements apart, said Nealda, was that it offered fully customisable wedding stationery, with real-time visuals online to show customers exactly how the products looked.

Nealda describes their customisation platform as “user-friendly, fast and fun-to-use, built on modern and stylish web pages that are responsive both on desktop and mobile”.

Most importantly, she told TISG, “it gives a DIY select-and-personalised approach to creating invitation cards and gift labels that today’s busy professionals prefer”.

For couples who prefer personal design services with a consultant, Gift Elements offers a seamless, hassle-free one-to-one custom design option.

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Photo: Courtesy of Gift Elements LLP

Nealda says that their first-year revenues shot up by 135%.

Then in 2020, along came an ugly uninvited guest – Covid-19.

Suddenly stylo-mylo wedding stationery, never-mind-the-expense weddings attended by hundreds of guests, and spare-no-expense receptions slowed weeks after Christmas.

Then they ground to a shuddering halt with the initial restriction of gatherings to 10 people, then came the Circuit Breaker on April 7, 2020, which effectively closed all of Singapore.

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Even on June 1, 2020, when the Circuit Breaker was lifted, when in-person marriage solemnisation was once again allowed, no more than 10 people could attend.

Fuggedabout hopes, dreams, and ambitions. Business all but evaporated. Weddings? What weddings? What had once been gloriously extravagant champagne-showered events were reduced to miniaturised masked marital meet-ups.

What was the point of ordering personalised elaborately-designed invitation cards? That must have been how most people thought.

Instead of paying a premium for small orders, many of the might-have-been customers turned to free design software and printed their own wedding cards.

Given the strict limitations on the size of guest lists, some couples probably dispensed with invitations altogether and simply turned their guest lists to a WhatsApp chat group.

The chill was on. No amount of advertising, marketing, or promotion could whet interest in personalised invitation cards.

Unwilling to give up, the sisters decided to put into practice a business idea in art, lifestyle and home decor, which had been brewing for some time.

So, during the first circuit breaker (April 7 to June 1, 2020) Gift Elements launched Wall Art Decor products with a poster or framed options in several sizes.

Photo: Courtesy of Gift Elements LLP

In May 2020, Nealda pursued a one-year Diploma in Interior Design to acquire professional knowledge in home decor and to reinforce Gift Elements’ standing in the sector.

This is how they describe what they do: “We create contemporary art prints for trendy home decor lovers looking for fast art and homeware.”

Photo: Courtesy of Gift Elements LLP

And this is their mission: To matchmake the right art with the right home decor.

The sisters said they chose to produce Gift Element’s own original artwork to offer peace of mind to customers that no external art intellectual property was being violated.

By developing and owning its own art assets, Gift Elements can guarantee the continuing availability of wall art products to its customers, and so it’s free to modify artwork if customisation was needed. Gift Elements partners with local and overseas printers to ensure access to customers around the world.

In effect, Gift Elements spent all of 2021 re-positioning its value proposition for the art and lifestyle customer base. Today, it boasts 46 of its own artworks, with more to come, said Nealda.

What has been a saving grace, she said, is its 100-per-cent e-commerce strategy without brick-and-mortar overheads. “We intend to keep riding on e-commerce,” she said.

This year, they plan to focus on marketing and customer outreach, especially on social media. Each wall art product comes with matching home decor recommendations so that customers can always get a basic guideline when choosing art. In this regard, said Nealda, it differs from others in the business in that it is not just a vendor, but also a business that illuminates the functionality of wall art in our lifestyle.

Photo: Courtesy of Gift Elements LLP

The sisters think of their business as an example of how a small fledgling business builds resilience in challenging circumstances. Using digital technology, said Nealda, Gift elements can sustain its wedding business and also create value for in home decor. /TISG

More of Gift Elements artwork and designs can be viewed at the links below:

Website: https://giftelements.com
Facebook @wallart.giftelements: https://www.facebook.com/wallart.giftelements
Instagram @art.in.lifestyle: https://www.instagram.com/art.in.lifestyle
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/giftelements

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