Have you ever wanted to offer a special gift to someone you care about but just couldn’t find the time to look for it? Let Gillian Szraga help you out with Gift IT. She’s an American mother of three in Paris who understands what busy people need and are looking for when it comes to presents. With her business degree and marketing experience working in countries abroad, Gillian Szraga created Gift IT in the city that has the best gifts to offer!
Where did you get the brilliant idea of creating a business to offer original French gifts to people who are too busy to shop?
Where did I get the idea…running around Paris looking for birthday gifts for friends of all ages, trying to find the perfect gift and ending up with a generic gift card.
Why Gift IT? I am tired of seeing the same jacket on the street, or the same shoes or whatever. With Gift IT you will discover boutiques that are off the beaten path, creators, multi-brands, concept stores. We want to bring our customers back to the independent retailers that have so much to offer: quality, service with a smile, and something that you won’t necessarily see on your neighbor downstairs!
I figured that the gift card was a great option but decided it was time to make it more personal, ‘pretty’ and available for stores that are totally awesome!
Seems to INSPIRELLE you have the dream job searching for interesting boutiques in Paris. What catches your eye and just whom are you shopping for?
Me! Seriously, I look at the displays in the boutique, how the products are presented, how am I greeted by the salesperson (this is huge, if they are not friendly, I don’t bother!) the products themselves, are they gift worthy.
Tell us how a gift giver chooses his card from Gift IT.
Gift IT sells, via our website, gift cards that can be personalized for our partner boutiques. What does that mean? You choose the boutique, and then you ‘design’ your card. We have 25 different cards on the site to choose from, you can upload a photo, you can write a message and you can choose the amount that you would like to offer. You can also choose your delivery method, send it via email so it arrives directly to their inbox (you can program the delivery date), print it at home yourself, or we can mail it either to you to offer or directly to the person. All that and you don’t have to take the metro or your car to do it. Can’t decide between our 50+ boutiques? Choose the IT CARTE, this is our universal card so that your friend can determine the boutique of her/his choice.
If my husband was celebrating his 40th birthday, what kind of gifts would you recommend? Men are so hard to buy for compared to women.
I would suggest checking out the boutique Friday Wear, rue Constantinople, metro Villiers. They have an amazing selection of casual wear, great brands, t-shirts and fabulous jackets, pants etc. You can cover budgets from 50€ to 1000€!
I also love the boutique Cyclist Branchée for those athletes out there! Electric bikes and scooters for everyone – a great statement gift for Mr. 40!
Is there a price range to accommodate all gift givers? For example, can we pick up smaller Gift IT cards to offer as housewarming presents when showing up for dinner?
We have suggested amounts for each boutique but you can also enter the amount of your choice, so the sky is the limit. We do, however, have a minimum purchase of 15€.
And teenagers? They reject everything we offer them at this age unless they specifically asked for it. How to please them?
This is one of our best markets! The fussy teenager. Last Christmas we had an abundance of orders for gift cards by grandparents for their teenage grandchildren. It’s perfect. You can say I love you without them being too embarrassed to say they would like to return the gift. We have a great selection of sneaker stores, jewelry stores, and concept stores. So I am pretty sure most teenagers can find something that they’ll love!
Just how personal is it to use an intermediary to select a gift for someone close?
This is why we have a selection of different designs made to please and why we made it possible to add your message and a photo. I think this makes it more personal than just buying something that you know will get returned, and also we have a selection of boutiques that everyone will love discovering!
Looking at your website, many of the boutiques you recommend and the photos you display make the reader want to visit the shop in person! Does that not defeat your purpose?
No, it’s part of what we market to our boutiques: the marketing. Our goal is to increase traffic for our boutique partners. So, whether it’s via the sale of a gift card, or traffic in the store, it means we are doing our job well!
Why do people everywhere covet a gift, souvenir or product from Paris, France?
Because this is Paris! It’s one of the most beautiful cities in the world (if not the most beautiful). It’s romantic, it has an amazing history, and despite their ‘mauvaise reputation’, once you’ve created a relationship, the French are warm, endearing, and friends for life. Who wouldn’t want a souvenir from Paris!
Gift IT is celebrating its first year anniversary. Félicitations! As a mother raising three children in Paris, what convinced you this was the right time to return to the workforce and start your own business?
My eldest will be off to university in less than two years now, and my youngest has just started middle school. I am still able to balance work and be present when they get home as they have such long days. I decided it was time to do something for me as well as setting a great example for my daughter. I have the best of both worlds!
What have you learned about launching your own business in France, which has a reputation for being hard on independent business in terms of administration, taxes and hiring practices?
You have to be careful when you set up your business to choose the correct status for your company. The relatively new SAS does not put pressure on tax-wise. Hiring is an issue, but France also has a great pool of stagiaires or interns, and with the auto-entrepreneur status you can find freelancers in pretty much any domain. I haven’t tried setting up a company anywhere else so I can’t compare, but honestly, France is okay.
Everyone loves a “cadeau”! What are your favorite unusual French gifts to offer?
I love the Spa Dans le Noir. It’s an amazing concept, founded by Didier Roche, an entrepreneur who lost his sight as a child. All of their masseuses are without sight.