Category Archives: Corporate Gifts Vancouver


Local Vancouver gifts as organic living art: Why we love The Olla Urban Flower Project

25 Jan



The Olla Flower Project was created by Megan Branson and Dionne Finch. According to Megan, these two women wove together a true obsession for plants and flowers with a vision: A small business committed to community engagement and sustainable flower production.






Flowers are a great gift that activates a multi-sensory experience of beauty. Although flowers are a gift that rarely fail…Do you ever wonder how can we take this traditional gift to the next level of creativity, thoughtfulness and meaning? Olla flower arrangements carry a great story and unique beauty.



5 Reasons why we love the Olla Urban Flower Project



1. Creativity: These arrangements are living art. When someone receives an Olla creation and places it in their home or office, they are given the gift of great conversations. Each person will have their own interpretation of what they see. Olla’s designs “focus the eye on the beauty of each botanical element whether it be a minimalist or opulent arrangement”. In addition to bouquets, Olla creates terrariums, living walls and many other objects of beauty.





2. Local and organic: Every stem used in each flower design is sourced from an urban farm/garden, a local farm/greenhouse, or it is from a Fair Trade/Veriflora certified farm. Arrangements feature flowers from British Columbia’s interior: Bathtub Gardens in beautiful Pemberton Valley and Okanagan Fair Flowers in Similkameen valley. Olla has also worked with the SOLEfood urban farm in Vancouver’s Downtown East Side.





3. Socially Responsible: Olla is a social enterprise that is accountable to the community. It is a business that is designed to generate jobs and prosperity in Vancouver’s Downtown East Side. In addition to generating socio-economic goodness, Olla spreads beauty throughout the community with re-purposed bouquets. When a corporate event is over, Olla helps prolong the life of the flowers by redirecting them towards organizations operating in the DTES.




4. Environmentally Responsible: All green waste is sent to local composting projects and Olla is working with suppliers to decrease packaging. Flowers and foliage are local whenever possible and certified organic.





5. Unique and long lasting: My bouquet can last up to a month if the water is refreshed and the stems are trimmed every few days. It can also become an awesome dried arrangement that lasts years. There is an abundance of uniqueness that expands beyond these bouquets. Check out the Olla Flower Project in person!


Non-Material Gift Ideas that Make a Big Difference

30 Nov

In our previous post, 5 Tips For Successful Corporate Gift Baskets, we discussed how gifts communicate with gift recipients.“A great gift is like a great conversation.” What do you want to say? How do you create a meaningful gift experience that tells a story?

If you want your gift to communicate a narrative of charity, we suggest Survival Gifts by UNICEF or Christmas Meals by the Union Gospel Mission (UGM). These two charity gift programs have a key strength in common: they directly connect your donation with the donation recipients you seek to assist. Your donation becomes targeted, tangible and more meaningful.

Give Locally: Give the Gift of a Warm and Nourishing Christmas Meal from the Union Gospel Mission

Down the street from the Saul Good office, there is a Union Gospel Mission. When we walk past their facilities at meal times, there is often a long line of folks with empty tummies. It is interesting to see a wide array of diversity. Some people are young. Some are elderly and some of them seem to be wrapping up a day of underpaid manual labour.

The UGM Christmas meal program is so much more than a meal. The staff go above and beyond to create an experience that builds community and brings joy to people who might otherwise spend the holidays in an ongoing state of struggle. Large event tents are assembled and high end meals are served to over 2000 Downtown Eastside residents. It is not simply a gift of food. It is a gift of dignity, warmth, community and connection. Although a holiday meal will not fix all hardships, it provides mental, emotional and physical nourishment.

Give Globally: Give Gifts of Survival from UNICEF

Why not give the gift of saving a child’s life? UNICEF has designed a brilliant program that allows you to purchase gifts that address specific issues. For example, The Family Survival Food Pack is carefully crafted to deliver the most effective and efficient assistance that starving families require. The pack includes a nutrient-packed ration bundle, that staves off malnutrition in children. This pack contains: 15 Plumpy’Nut® Packets, 20 Therapeutic Milk Sachets, 40 Micronutrient Powder Sachets, 50 High Energy Biscuits.


Additional Examples of Survival Gifts from UNICEF:

  • Local Water Pump

Where children are thirsty, where babies die for lack of hygiene, where girls must forgo school to find water, abundant local water is a magical, transformative gift. Contains: 1 Water Pump for a community.

  • Winter Survival Pack

Give struggling children what they urgently need to survive – protection from diseases, essential nutrients to build strength, and clean water. Contains: 100 Micronutrient Powder Sachets, 85 Measles Vaccines, 85 Polio Vaccines, 500 Water Purification Tablets.

  • Urgent Aid

Make the greatest impact! When you choose this gift, we’ll put your contribution to work where the need is currently most critical. You’ll play an invaluable role in bringing life-changing nutrition, education and relief to the children who need it most, wherever they are in the world.


Classy Climate Smart Gifts Versus Over-Packaged, Over-Done Gift Baskets Wrapped in Plastic

31 Oct



Our business was born with the realization that 50 million gift baskets were going into landfills every year. Why should gift experiences generate waste that cannot be re-used or recycled? What does a wasteful gift wrapped in plastic say about your relationship with your friends, family and business associates?



From day one, we have been committed to locally sourced products and recyclable packaging. At the Saul Good Gift Co., we use 100% recycled and reclaimed paper packaging that is Ancient Forest Free certified.







How Do We Reduce Our Carbon Footprint?


As we maintain alignment with our core principles, we are also facing the reality of a growing business and a larger carbon footprint. Our work with Climate Smart has provided important guidance. This local Vancouver social enterprise helps businesses measure and reduce their carbon footprint while cutting costs.


We measure the intensity of our carbon footprint in pounds per $100K in revenue. In 2009, we measured 12.9 pounds. In 2010, we measured 5.6 pounds. Even though the total emissions increased from 2009 to 2010 so did the number of gift baskets we produced. We improved our carbon intensity so that the emissions per dollar decreased by more than 50%. Go team!







Where is our Largest Impact?


Shipping is a large impact for us.To address this we’ve selected carriers that are carbon neutral and that use hybrid vehicles. For downtown Vancouver gift basket deliveries we work with Shift Delivery, a hybrid electric tricycle delivery business.



Novex is one of our main couriers. They launched Canada’s 1st 100% electric delivery trucks earlier this year and are Vancouver’s most sustainable courier. For products shipped outside the Lower Mainland we use UPS, which uses alternative fuel vehicles and have recently launched an offset program for emissions generated by shipping



Paper use is currently our largest contributor of greenhouse gases. Our gift baskets are made with cardboard. In 2009 we changed the production of all our packaging to use 100% post consumer recycled paper. Although we are proud of our practices, there is a small amount of packaging materials that are not 100% recycled. We will continue to search for suppliers with 100% recycled options.




How Can We Improve?


In order for us to reduce the intensity of our impact we need to address our packaging in a deeper way. Moving to 100% recycled cardboard was a great first step, but we do not consider this an arrival point. We are continually looking for opportunities to improve.



The next step for us is addressing paper intensity, finding ways to use less paper fibre, by weight, per gift box produced.



We are excited about opportunities to reduce our use of paper fibre through innovative design. If we can find ways to redesign the construction of out gift boxes, so they use less materials, we’ll have a solution to reduce our paper intensity.


As Saul Good grows to cities across Canada and down the West Coast, we will continue to work with local suppliers to keep our gifts close to home. Over this past year we’ve established an Ontario based business with all products sourced local to Toronto.




5 Tips For Successful Corporate Gift Baskets

05 Oct

Connectivity and relationships build the foundation of thriving corporate cultures. In order to maintain strong relationships, it is essential to give the right gifts to the right people. Thoughtfulness is always more important than cost. If gift-giving is executed poorly, it can cause more harm than good.

Over the last 5 years I’ve learned a lot about corporate gift baskets. The following tips are helpful insights that will allow you to express your appreciation to all of your wonderful employees, clients and networks.

1. Be memorable! A great gift is like a great conversation. Think about what you want to say. Do you want to say thank you? Do you want to let the recipient know a bit about your business? If you want to stand out as memorable, it is important to communicate what you remember about the gift recipient. When your gift references a previous conversation, it indicates that you are actively listening and engaged in the relationship you are building.

2. Be consistent. If you are creative and innovative, it is ideal to give a gift that is creative and innovative. Nothing says stagnant thinking like a big basket wrapped in cellophane and a giant ribbon. An over-packaged gift experience is like an insincere conversation that is cluttered with empty compliments. Why would you give someone large amounts of shiny plastic that can’t be recycled? Ever wonder what happens to those little jams and shelf stable cheese? So do we.

3. Be Sustainable. Sustainable gifts show thoughtfulness for the gift recipient and the planet.

4. Be subtle with your branding. You want to stay top of mind with the gift you’re giving, not make someone feel like a walking advertisement. It’s tempting to want to put your logo all over everything that you’re sending out. However, big noisy logos are like conversations where one person is talking about themselves the entire time. Most listeners will tune out. Be mindful about how you want people to interact and use your gift for years to come. A useful gift with a subtle touch of your logo creates an ongoing friendly reminder of your business throughout the year.

5. Be Authentic. Consider delivering your gifts personally. When you can look someone in the eye and shake their hand, you are creating an impression that is more memorable than any other means of communication. If you cannot be physically present, you can facilitate a meaningful connection through a customized greeting. This instills a personalized experience. The gift recipient will enjoy the fact that this gift is special. When a gift is special and personal, you are creating an authentic and long lasting impression.


5 years of giving and receiving corporate gift baskets

26 Sep

It’s 10am and a new potential vendor comes into my office to present new local products for our gourmet gift baskets. The coffee is brewing and wafts through our space as a slight breeze comes through the open 2nd story garage door. Our new staff member settles into her desk, which had just been set up for her first day of work.

This is a pivotal time, because this month marked our 5th anniversary as a business.

The story of the Saul Good Gift Co. began in the summer of 2006. I had taken some time off work during the summer break from my MBA and was rethinking my work at a non-profit organization in Vancouver.

I had gained a lot of experience researching sustainable business but felt it was time to stop talking and make something happen.

I had taken on a lot! 30 hours a week at work with a commute to outer suburbia, 25 hours of school and a long distance relationship. What was I thinking when I decided to start a corporate gift baskets business? I thought it was going to be easy.

Although, I knew it was crazy to take it on, I knew that something good would come from it. At a minimum I’d apply some knowledge from school. I was confident that there was a real opportunity to add value to gift baskets. After all, most gift baskets kind of suck!

Flash forward to September 1st, 2011. The Saul Good team has been growing and so was the crowd of people coming together around me that morning.

I’m not often told what to do but was instructed to take a seat in a chair in front of the group. We’ve been privileged enough to share office and warehouse space with a community minded complimentary business, Eclipse Awards for three of the last 5 years. Given their focus on recognition awards we share similarity with corporate gifts yet are different enough to not directly compete. All of their staff, and ours, were gathered around. Not to mention that new vendor. I really had no idea what was about to happen.


I was presented with an award for having reached 5 years in business, personally customized and etched into a beautiful recycled glass recognition award. It was more than something nice to sit on our shelf. It was the thought and words spoken to me, in front of my team and colaegues, that made me feel special. I had accomplished something significant!

Business isn’t easy, that’s for sure. Although we’re only 5 years young, we’re also 5 years old! I set out to learn something and that’s most definitely been achieved. Here are a few things I’ve taken away that seem relevant, not only to business but also to life every day.

1) It’s all about relationships. There’s only so much any one person can do by oneself. Asking for help and empowering people to participate and contribute is key for a team to achieve their goals. Having a reliable network of people that have expertise complimentary to your team’s gets things done. And done well. Without that you’re all alone. Alone is isolated. It’s disconnected. You might think you can do things better than everyone else but chances are you’re missing out on something. It’s more fun to share.

2) Do things right the first time. Taking short-cuts is tempting. Growing a business on a bootstrap means making more from less. It’s easy to get into the mindset to always say no when it comes to spending money. Maybe its cash you don’t have. Nonetheless its important to understand that if you don’t do things right, and they’re important, then you will end up doing it again. You’ll pay either way and might as well do it right the first time (also see Rule #1, something I learned in year 2).

3) Fail harder. Mistakes are going to happen and when they do, we need to embrace them. Learn from everything you do and figure out ways to simplify the way you do things. The next time will be easier for everyone, more efficient and more profitable. Create a culture that is supportive, addresses problems upfront and allows mistakes rise to the surface.

4) Make sure you’re LTD. Having a good lawyer is important but I’m not talking about incorporating your company. Living The Dream (LTD) is a state of mind achieved when you’re working hard doing something you love to do. Things will come up that you don’t want to or like to do but you need to get stuff done (GSD). There’s a lot to do, don’t complain about it or feel bad for yourself or you might be violating rule # 1 (see above).

Recognition is clearly a powerful tool. It empowers and reinforces goodwill and a healthy corporate culture. It helps to make people feel valued and part of the team. I never thought I’d be running a corporate gift basket business, and for 5 years at that! It could have ended up as a school project report on a shelf. Instead it’s become something I passionately wake up to each and every day. My story starts and ends with a gift. I hope there’s one in there for you as well.


Top 5 Reasons to Give Corporate Gifts at the Holidays

18 Nov

All business is about relationships and gift giving is about nurturing just that. By giving gifts one not only say’s ‘thank you’ but also tells a story about one’s values and their relationship. Thoughtful meaningful gifts go a long way, letting your clients and employees know they mean more than dollar signs and cogs in the wheel. Good gifts say that you’re listening, attentive, respectful and honouring, all things of value in relationships, business and otherwise.

  1. A good gift is a great investment. Last Christmas one of my clients sent a gift to a consultant that had sub contracted her some work over the last year. At the time the gift recipient just happened to be looking for some extra help to fulfill a contract. The gift she had sent had put her top of mind and got her the work. The $100 gift turned into a $10,000 contract, a 100X return on investment!
  2. Appreciation is one of the strongest ways to build your business. People make your business what it is and appreciation can make people feel good about their contribution if its done the right way. We’ve got some great tips on how to appreciate people, just ask and you shall receive. A thoughtful gift basket is a lot cheaper than a raise.
  3. A difference between good and great companies is healthy corporate culture. Gifts are an easy way to let people
    know what’s important to you and your business. This works both internally and externally. Corporate gifts can tell a story about who you are as a company and why people work for you, do business with you and refer business your way.
  4. When friends and family ask your employees “how’s work?” during the holidays you don’t want them to answer “whatevs?!?”. Even a small gesture of some delicious holiday cookies can raise moral.
  5. Taking care of the details shows that you’re good business. If quality is part of what makes your business successful, tasteful holiday gifts that are enjoyed, are creative and respect our community and environment can tell a lot about your business. Not a fly by night opperation but here for the long haul. Who do you want to deal with?

Seeing the value in social enterprise corporate gifts

19 Aug

A month back I had an amazing experience. As Alex and I were delivering gifts into the new Woodward’s building we met an amazing woman named Annie. As we rode the elevator together with a dolly full of gifts ready for the new homeowners, Annie asked us if the wooden boxes the gifts were packaged in were from Tradeworks. We confirmed and Annie went on to tell us that she had participated in training programs at Tradeworks and that it had helped her get her where she is today, gainfully employed working construction on one of Vancouver’s highest profile developments.

The gifts were a selection of green cleaning products and sustainable lifestyle items destined for the suites of new homeowners, with each gift packaged in a an engraved pine beetle wooden caddy made by Tradeworks Custom Products. As I’ve been writing about for the last year, Tradeworks is a social enterprise that trains and employs women in carpentry living in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. Besides gaining tradeskills and work experience the program builds participants confidence and self esteem while preparing the women for careers in the trades.

Walking the talk

Woodward’s is a landmark development in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, creating space for not only the privilaged but also providing a range of social housing, for families, single people and also the physically challenged. W2, the community media arts center, will also find home in the Woodward’s block. We always thought it was great that Westbank, the developers of the project, wanted to include the wooden boxes from Tradeworks in the welcome gift program for Woodwards but to see that creating employment opportunities for DTES residents is not only a commitment but also a reality was something that really hit home for me. Business is a powerful tool that can improve the world. Gifts can be a lot more than just cool stuff and it feels real good to know the work we’re doing is helping to make things better.


Rule #6: Everyone has their job

21 May

Everyone is good at something. As Saul Good grows I’m doing my best to build a team of inspired people who not only love what they do but also excel at what they do best. It’s about contributing with excellence for the benefits of the whole and for me, letting go of doing everything. Understanding that there are people who are better than me at things is key to letting go and building empowered teams.

Top 3 Learnings

1) Encourage contribution. Show interest in people’s passions, both personally and professionally, and allow them to integrate what they love into their work.

2) Know that you’re not always right. Perspectives beside one’s own may be more insightful. This is essential to leaveraging the value of diversity.

3) Be an expert. Do what you do and do it really well. Quality is key to excellence. Trying new things and learning new skills also needs to be encouraged and supported. Learning from the expertise of others is a good way to explore this.

Rule # 6 is part of my ongoing learnings and rules of business. Check out the Saul Good Top 5 Rules of Business for more.


Cooperation is key to business

19 May

Although competition plays a role in challenging ourselves to improve, cooperation is key to progress in a major way. By working together, people and companies are finding amazing ways to contribute value to each other and our organizations. While working on my MBA I was introduced to Elisabet Sahtouris, an evolutionary biologist giving us a lecture on how we can learn from nature to improve business & society. Over the past while I’ve noticed a few things that merge together in this space.

Co-Marketing – got clients? so do we!

This past week Saul Good launched a co-marketing campaign with Frogfile Office Essentials, a local green office supply company here in the Strathcona Green Zone. It’s a refer a business program giving a Saul Good gift box to every client that refers a new business account at Frogfile. With the newsletter announcement this morning I quickly landed a new client and seeing it emerge on twitter to boot. The web 2.0, digital space and social networking have opened up great opportunities for co-marketing, helping consumers and companies connect with each other based on common interests, markets, and expertise. When two companies offer various value propositions an opportunity emerges to share sales leads as everyone is helping each other to improve their businesses.

Co-Location – it’s easier to get help than be on your own

After Sustainability 1.0, a green business expo hosted by the Strathcona Business Improvement Association (SBIA), Toby Barazzuol and I really started talking about our vision for a sustainable business community in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. Quickly, various emerging opportunities started to present themselves as Toby’s business, Eclipse Awards International, and mine, Saul Good Gift Co., found ways to work together to innovate and do business together. We collaborated with the SBIA and others on Sustainability 2.0, a more progressive expo focused on collaboration as key to sustainable community economic development (For more info on this please read a great article by Emily Jubenvill). One partnership that developed was in the Green Awards space, as we realized that both of our clients would benefit and see value in high quality, locally produced, recognition awards made from recycled, reclaimed and socially responsible labour. On January 1st of this year Saul Good moved into share the office and warehouse space at Eclipse. Having now been in here for 5 months, besides enjoying working in a beautifully designed green renovated building, we’ve found ways to help each other which include sharing production staff and shipping/receiving logistics, sharing sales leads and clients, collaborating on the development of new business opportunities through creativity and brainstorming sessions, and the development of shared PR contacts interested in the innovative business development happening in Strathcona. This is only the beginning. Co-location has really helped us to learn more about each other and our businesses to find ways we can help each other, after all, it’s easier to get help then to be on your own.

Creating value from waste saves cash

For years it’s been my passion to be involved with businesses that take useless waste products and turn them into objects of beauty and value. This is the field of industrial ecology, where no energy or resources are wasted but utilized through the development of partnerships where companies use each other’s by-products (water, heat, materials) or share resources (buildings, services, employees). Just last week the SBIA hosted a waste exchange workshop that brought neighbourhood businesses together to learn about such opportunities and network in this space. I found value in the workshop as I connected with new people at Strathcona area businesses and with a tour tomorrow at Sunrise Soya I’ll see how it all develops. It’s amazing to see other businesses interested in cooperation for the development of a sustainable business community and even more thrilling to hear about new companies locating here for this strategic reason.

All business is about relationships, I’m sticking with that, and it’s definitely all good to look and develop cooperative models for working together as businesses. It’s what we need to do to evolve given the economic and environmental terms of our day. It’s also our job.


Culture is king – my tour of

31 Mar

Last week I went to Las Vegas for the Awards Recognition Association (ARA) show along with my friends at Eclipse Awards. Recognition is a powerful way to build relationships, both in business and in pleasure, and going to the show was a great opportunity for me to learn more about the industry. Sustainability has all to do with recognition and appreciation, as I learned so deeply working on my MBA at the Bainbridge Graduate Institute (BGI), as it’s really about taking care of people and building culture, two powerful pillars needed to build successful progressive businesses and organizations. One of the highlights of the trip was a tour we scheduled at the headquarters of We had heard from friends that it was a great tour, and knew a bit about the success of this online retailer, but were totally surprised as to how progressive the organization was. Jerry, the Zappos Major, took us on the tour and didn’t cease to amaze. In the photo above you can see him in his festive glory. Behind you can see the desks of the c-suite, not what you might expect for a billion dollar company!

Management drives culture but employees create it

zaapos_cooperation_is_key_to_businessI was facinated to see how passionate, personal, creative and friendly the Zappos employees are. For a company thats focussed on service, they were spot on. They made me feel important and of value and this feeling I now attribute to their brand. As we walked around the offices there were two things that I thought were super cool.

  1. Each department decorated their own area and meeting room
  2. Each department welcomed us in their own way

These factors help employees to own a piece of their job, to have creative freedom and expression and be recognized and valued for things that are fun. This helps to build a positive culture, with happy and satisfied employees. People who like their job and feel proud to serve their company. They like each other and their customers. From tiki lounges to hoola hoops to cowgirls ringing triangles to Mexican margarhita escapades, Zappos has a taste for everyone.

Zappos Library

At the end of the tour you get to choose books from their library that you promise to read, all of which looked good but a couple stood out. I choose 2.

  1. Co-opetition by Adam Brandenburger & Barry Nalebuff
  2. Made to Stick by Chip Heath & Dan Heath

Since learning from Elizabet Sahtouris, an evolutionary biologist, at BGI I’ve been facinated by how cooperation is a more powerful tool for survival in the game of evolution. That by working together and understanding each other’s needs that we’re able to best figure out how to work and live with each other. This is the basis of what we’re working towards in the Strathcona Green Zone, how businesses can work together for mutual benefit and build a healthy interconnected sustainable community. It will be interesting to see how Brandenburger & Nalebuff tie in how cooperation and competition are related. I’ll keep you posted. One of my great entrepreneurship professors, Paul Hudnut, talked about how to create powerful ‘sticky’ ideas in a presentation one day a couple years back and given my interest and passion for storytelling and marketing I’m excited to dive into this one as well.

Feeling like a king


Although my friends made me wear a tiara Zappos still made me feel like a king. Another great moment of the tour was in our visit to Dr.Vik’s office, a space used for employees to talk about things going on in their lives and get advice to help them deal with things and achieve their goals. This sense of safety, comfort, and support again are powerful ways to build a healthy trusting culture, where everyone understands that people are people, not just cogs in the wheel making sprockets. Success is based on people and it’s manifested in the cultures that we create.