NCRC CDF Entrepreneur Spotlight: Olive Gift Co.

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This is part of a series of profiles showcasing the talented entrepreneurs of NCRC’s Community Development FundOlive Gift Co. is a women-owned business started by Michell Ratcliffe that provides gift-giving services. 

Can you share a brief overview of your business and what inspired you to start it?

Olive Gift Co. is a bespoke corporate gift box service dedicated to creating unique and high-end gift experiences for HR managers, corporate executives, VPs and marketing managers. My mother and I were inspired to start this venture because of our shared love for designing spaces with standout pieces. While we initially considered home renovation, we realized it would be time-consuming and expensive. Instead, we decided to focus on creating distinctive gift boxes—not baskets—that stand out from the typical offerings found in big box stores and pharmacies. With 18 years of experience in the food business, I wanted to combine my design expertise with my passion for crafting memorable gifts. This venture allows us to help businesses foster stronger relationships and show appreciation to their teams. Having been a manager trying to show appreciation without company support, I understand the importance of recognition and the impact it can have.

What products or services do you offer, and how do they benefit your customers?

At Olive Gift Co., we offer a range of thoughtfully curated gift boxes that are ready to ship, designed to build strong client relationships, welcome new team members and show appreciation to existing teams. Our gift boxes are categorized into several themes to meet the diverse needs of our clients:

  • Holiday Gift Boxes: Perfect for spreading festive cheer, our holiday-themed boxes are designed to celebrate various holidays throughout the year, making it easy for companies to send seasonally appropriate gifts.
  • Themed Gift Boxes: These boxes cater to specific occasions and themes, such as birthdays, anniversaries and special corporate events. Each box is meticulously crafted to align with the theme, ensuring a memorable gifting experience.
  • Onboarding Gift Boxes: Designed to welcome new team members, our onboarding boxes include items that make new hires feel valued and part of the team from day one. These boxes often include practical items for their new role, along with personalized touches to make their first days special.
  • Client Appreciation Gift Boxes: These boxes help businesses express gratitude to their clients in a unique and memorable way. Filled with premium products, they are designed to leave a lasting impression and strengthen business relationships.
  • Corporate Celebration Gift Boxes: Ideal for marking significant milestones and achievements, these boxes are perfect for celebrating company anniversaries, successful project completions, and other corporate events.

Our clients appreciate the high-end packaging, unique designs, fast turnaround times and excellent customer service, which set us apart from more traditional gift options like books and mugs. By choosing Olive Gift Co., businesses can effortlessly show appreciation, foster stronger relationships and create a positive impact on their teams and clients.

How has NCRC CDF supported your business in achieving its goals?

NCRC CDF has been instrumental in providing the financial support needed to grow our business. With their loan, we were able to secure a business location in Crofton, Maryland, cover moving expenses, invest in packaging materials and expand our product line. While we have only partially improved our marketing efforts, their support has been crucial in allowing us to maintain our mission and uphold the high standards our clients expect and love.

How did you learn about NCRC CDF? Was there anything in particular that drew you to work with NCRC CDF specifically in achieving your goals?

I learned about NCRC CDF through my network at WBENC, where I attended a webinar that discussed Macy’s S.P.U.R. Pathways. The presentation highlighted the supportive approach and tailored financial solutions that NCRC CDF offers to small businesses. This resonated with me and drew me to work with them, as I was confident their support would be instrumental in achieving our business goals

Are there any upcoming projects or initiatives you’re excited about?

Yes, we are excited to announce the creation of a catalog featuring a variety of gifts from different themes, ranging from corporate gifts to celebrations for buying a new car or a new home. This new line of themed gift boxes will cater to various occasions and preferences, further enhancing our clients’ experiences. We believe these new offerings will provide even more options for thoughtful, high-end gifts, allowing our clients to find the perfect gift for any occasion. This initiative is a significant step in our commitment to offering innovative and personalized gift solutions.

Can you highlight any recent successes or milestones achieved by your business?

Recently, we celebrated a significant success around Mother’s Day. A PR company reached out to me to include our gift boxes in their Mother’s Day kits for influencers. Although I had to pay to be involved, which carries the risk of not receiving orders or followers from the influencers, the response was overwhelmingly positive. All the influencers loved our presentation and packaging.

As a result, the PR company informed me that our gift boxes were a huge hit and offered to have us package all their future PR kits for various influencers at no cost to us. In return, the influencers would give shoutouts to Olive Gift Co. I eagerly agreed, making this a major win for the first quarter of 2024.

What challenges have you faced as a business owner, and how have you overcome them?

One of the main challenges has been marketing and brand awareness. Initially, it was difficult to get our name out there and distinguish ourselves from other gift box providers. While we have made some progress, we still need additional marketing support to fully achieve our goals. Enhancing our marketing strategy will help us scale our operations and reach a wider audience without compromising on quality.

Despite these challenges, we have taken several steps to improve our visibility. The financial support from NCRC CDF allowed us to expand into a larger area, which in turn enabled us to invest more in our marketing efforts. We have participated in industry events and collaborated with influencers to boost our brand visibility. However, we recognize that there is still more work to be done to fully establish our brand in the market.

How do you envision the future of your business?

We envision Olive Gift Co. expanding our client base further and introducing more innovative and personalized gift options. Our goal is to become the go-to provider for corporate gift boxes, known for our exceptional quality and unique offerings. We aim to be the preferred choice for all gifting occasions, with plans to expand our reach through platforms like Amazon and Walmart, which will also create jobs for local job seekers.

Additionally, we aspire to connect with and serve prominent Black entertainment companies, becoming the trusted gift provider for TTP Studios and Steve Harvey Productions. While this is a dream, we believe that meeting the right people and being consistent in our marketing efforts will help us achieve it. Our vision is to grow Olive Gift Co. into a brand synonymous with thoughtful, high-quality gifting solutions for every occasion.

Is there additional information about your business?

For more information about our products and services, please visit our website or follow us on social media. We regularly update our platforms with new offerings, behind-the-scenes looks at our creative process and special promotions. Our commitment to excellent customer service is a cornerstone of our business, and we take pride in the positive feedback we receive from our clients.

We also love to share testimonials from satisfied customers and showcase the unique ways our gift boxes have been used to strengthen business relationships and celebrate special occasions. Additionally, we are actively involved in our community, supporting local events and charities, and we often collaborate with other small businesses to create even more unique and personalized gift options.

Feel free to reach out to us directly with any questions or special requests. We’re always here to help you find the perfect gift solution for your needs.


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