Maker Ambassador – Noelle Parent
interview Ja’Nai Tellis Frederick
As the owner and lead curator of Gifted, Charlottesville native Noelle Parent is a true ambassador for the Richmond maker community. Her gift box business features local products, meaningfully packaged for personal and corporate occasions. Gifted is an entrepreneurial endeavor that transpired after 14 years in event and hospitality sales management with organizations such as SMG Management (Richmond Coliseum, Richmond Center Stage, and Altria Theater), Quirk Hotel, Boar’s Head Inn, and Starwood Hotels. In addition to operating Gifted, Noelle is a wedding planner for the Hive Collective. I interviewed Noelle at 804RVA, a place that helped launch her business.
How did you grow your brand without burning bridges in the process?
I was very upfront with Quirk when I decided to make the change [to self-employment]. I gave a six-month notice with a flexible agreement. There was no conflict of interest. I was not going to another hotel, so I was able to transition my role to another person without a sense of urgency. The business I was going into was complementary, so I was open and honest, and they supported that next step in my life.
You could use any products for your business. Why are your boxes curated with items from local makers?
I like the story behind the products—who makes them, where and how they are made, and what inspires them. While we are changing as consumers and starting to lean more local, it is still hard for makers to create the products and get them to our hands. It is a very eye-opening experience to meet these makers in their home and see first-hand their hardships in getting products to the market. Etsy helps, but I thought we were further along than we are. I like being another resource.
Read more in Vol. 3