Tag Archives: local Vancouver gift idea

Title image with product shot of various chocolates

At Beta 5 Creating Chocolate Is A Work Of Art

14 Jun

You’d be excused for thinking the storefront of a chocolatier hidden in an industrial area of Vancouver wouldn’t be particularly busy on a Thursday afternoon. But the steady traffic of customers showed that people obviously know where to find them.

BETA5 Retail Space

Beta 5 was created by Adam Chandler and Jessica Rosinski, who had a creative vision for pushing the boundaries of chocolate. The name Beta 5 refers to the form-5 beta crystal structure, a stable form of cocoa butter crystallization that is created when chocolate is properly tempered.

I visited Beta 5 to learn about their unique approach to chocolate. As Adam gave me a tour of their kitchens, he shared their philosophy and how they take great care in the process, opting for methods that are more time consuming but yield a better product.

BETA5 Adam Portrait infront of fridge holding tray of choclates

Why did you start Beta 5?

Adam: It was the desire to have a creative outlet.

I had spent 10 years in the industry working for other people and while I still had my own creative vision, it was always being influenced by the people I worked for.

In pastry, you are limited in the opportunities available to you, so the purpose of Beta 5 was to have a space where we could explore our creative vision we saw for pastry and chocolate.

BETA5 CreamPuffs

What inspires your work?

Adam: There’s not really one thing in particular. For a lot of the core product, it starts with the ingredient. We want to showcase the qualities of main ingredient.

For example for the Okanagan dark chocolate cherries, we don’t want either the chocolate or the cherries to overwhelm each other. We search for the best quality cherries we can find and then pair them with chocolate that goes well with those particular cherries.

There’s a lot of stuff we do that is a lot more out of the box. In those instances we pull inspiration from any number of places. An idea like camping, outer space or tropical vacation and then work backwards and try to tell the story. We use textures, flavours and colours that convey the bigger idea and start to tell the story.

BETA5 chocolate production

What makes Beta 5 different?

Adam: The creative approach we take. While we want to do things differently, we really want to challenge ourselves and see what is possible.

A lot of others do what has been done before. We like to push the boundaries, using vegetables and different ingredients that you wouldn’t necessarily think of when you think of pastry and chocolate.

We want to explore the possibilities of those types of ingredients to create something different and add something new to the conversation.

A lot of chocolate is rich and comforting and perfect for winter. We paired cucumber, mint and chocolate because we wanted to come up with a flavour that would be light, crisp and refreshing. Something that people would want to eat in summer.

verdantforce product photo

What are the values that drive Beta 5?

Adam: The two things more important to us than creativity are quality and consistency.

Our creativity has no value if we aren’t putting out a quality product, consistently. We want people to depend on us as a supplier and know that everything we produce is the highest quality. We need to develop that trust so we can push the envelope and have people take a risk and try the new things we create.

Describe a typical day at Beta 5

Adam: There really isn’t a typical day at Beta 5. We designed it that way.

Things are much more repetitive in bigger production environments and we wanted to be inspired to come to work.

BETA5 chocolate production

We run a small, well-trained production team who are trained in everything. Each day there is a lot of variety. The day could be spent making bars or caramelizing nuts or pebbles or polishing and painting molds. The only typical part is that it’s a day spent around chocolate.

For me the variety makes for a more enjoyable experience.

At Saul Good Gift Co. many of our gift baskets include Beta 5’s delicious chocolates. You can see the full section here

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Title image with wine and champagne bottles and glasses

Are Wine, Spirits or Alcohol a Good Corporate Gift?

30 May

For those who enjoy alcohol a thoughtfully selected bottle may seem like the perfect gift.

And while that might be true for people in your personal life, it’s tricky when it comes to corporate gifts.

Alcohol is a controversial gift for reasons that may not be obvious. Consider how much you know about the person.

Two people with thought blue bubble above their heads

Assumptions can be risky when you don’t know any of the following information:

  • Personal struggles with alcoholism or addiction. Many recovering addicts aren’t necessarily open about their battles with alcohol, especially in their professional environments.
  • Challenging family history with alcohol. People with relatives that have a history of alcoholism may have strong aversions to alcohol.
  • Religion. Some of the religions that may avoid alcohol include branches of Christianity, Muslims, Jainism and Buddhists.
  • Personal preference. Some people avoid alcohol for weight loss, health, mental wellbeing and athletic goals. Others only like certain types of alcohol.
  • Corporate policies. Some workplaces have corporate policies about receiving alcohol.

Build Better Relationships With The Right Gift

Gifts are about building and nurturing relationships and you jeopardize that if the gift offends the receiver.

When gifting alcohol it’s important to be 100% certain that it will be well received. In a professional setting, it’s always best to err on the side of caution.

When selecting a gift for someone consider the purpose for the gift:

  • Is it for a business or personal milestone?
  • Are they a client or employee?
  • Is it going to a group or individual

By customizing the gift so it’s appropriate to the occasion, you’ll create a more meaningful experience.

hands receiving a gift with red bow on top

If the gift will be received in the person’s workplace, it’s an opportunity for them to also receive public recognition and feel special.

Obviously we are big fans of gift boxes. The experience of receiving a box, opening it and finding beautifully curated items gives people a prolonged experience of joy compared to opening a gift bag that obviously has a bottle inside.

What ever you decide, put yourself in the receiver’s shoes, how would you feel if you received the gift? Does it feel meaningful?

If you need help selecting a gift for any occasion, check out our gift guide below to help you decide the right type of basket for the occasion.

Gift guide flowchart

Title images of MEC staff in front of a MEC storefront

Inside MEC HQ: 3 Tips Employers Can Learn from Employee Recognition Initiatives

06 Apr

Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC) is a company with a mission. They want to inspire people to lead active outdoor lifestyles while being environmentally sustainable and respectful to the world around them. We think we’re in love!

MEC values their culture and strive to create an environment full of people that share their passion for the outdoors, and for social and environmental change. Water cooler chat is often about recent or planned outdoor adventures, current issues, or simply where to find the best locally grown produce.

In 2016 MEC’s employee engagement was rated at 74%, an impressive 8% higher than the national average. In 2016 they were also recognized as one of Canada’s Greenest Employers.

Pull quote and polaroid-style photos of MEC staff

According to Gallup, a critical component of employee engagement is recognition. Workplace recognition motivates employees, providing a self of accomplishment and helps them to feel valued. It also helps increase productivity and retention.

At Saul Good Gift Co, we’re proud to work with MEC to help them provide ongoing recognition to their employees. We’re inspired by this company and the good they are trying to do in the world. We wanted to see what’s under the hood at MEC HQ and what they are doing that makes MEC such a great company to work for. We talked to Anne Scott, MEC’s HR Coordinator to get the inside scoop.

What does MEC’s employee recognition program look like?

Anne: We recognize employees in a number of different ways at MEC, and sometimes a gift box adds a celebratory touch.  Some examples of when we might do this would be: the kick-off or completion of big projects, thank-you gifts for jobs well done, recognizing employee life events like newborns or weddings, and celebrating work events like milestone anniversaries, new managers, new store openings etc.

What challenges were you trying to solve when recognizing your employees?

Anne: We wanted to have some consistency in what employees received for certain events, which is very difficult with having locations across the country. We needed to make it easy for us – having a “go-to” vendor for each type of gift.

We strive to have good quality and meaningful gifts and awards. Something that is reflective of MEC’s values as well as the values of the recipient.

Pull quote and flat-lay image of sample products included in gift baskets

This means aligning ourselves with companies like Saul Good Gift Co, that are ethical, local, community oriented, and have sustainable practices as it relates to environmental impact.

What has been the impact of your employee recognition initiatives? 

Anne: We hear many comments about how receiving the gift is thoughtful, and that it makes staff feel appreciated. We’ve found that receiving a gift box is exciting and meaningful for people. They really feel valued because it’s noticed by colleagues when it arrives, making for a celebration of sort.

How has Saul Good Gift Co helped you achieve your employee recognition goals?

Anne: At MEC we care about how and where the products we sell are made – it’s important to our members and our staff. Saul Good Gift Co makes sure that their ingredients are presented in a way that exudes “local” and their statement or story about what drives them. This is something that is very appreciated by MEC staff, so the visibility of these stories within the gift itself is very important. It helps us, as an employer, convey to our employees that we care.

The quality and variety of the product surpasses that of any other “gift basket” vendor that I’ve been able to find. The team at Saul Good is responsive, flexible and personable – which makes them a pleasure to deal with.

3 Tips other employers can learn from MEC’s employee recognition initiatives

1. Make it about more than work.

MEC makes a point to celebrate milestones in people’s lives as well as their good work. This makes people feel important and valued beyond the work they do.

2. Where there is an opportunity, celebrate your employee with their colleagues.

MEC found that gifts are meaningful for people. The celebration that comes with receiving a gift elevates the feeling of appreciation.

3. Align your company values with the gifts and recognition you deliver.

At MEC gifts are selected because they are local, sustainable and have a story. For example, Saul Good Gift Co, products come from Vancouver artisans. They are packaged by Starworks Packaging & Assembly, a social enterprise established by the Developmental Disabilities Association. When a MEC employee receives one of these gifts, they feel connected to their local community and know that MEC cares.

Our favourite gift baskets for MEC staff include the Department Party, Confectionist and Fancy-Full.

Product shots of the gift baskets showing their ingredients

 

Honey sweetens our local economy

15 Aug

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Vanilla infused honey drizzles nicely on toast and melts perfectly into black tea. As that sweetness dances on your tastebuds, it is interesting to take pause and reflect on the hardworking honey bees and how incredibly important they are. In addition to being nature’s little artisans, their pollination is essential to local food production. 

 

vanilla

 

The honey we feature in our local gourmet gift baskets is from Mellifera Bees. Borrowing its name from the Latin Apis Mellifera, or “honey-bearing bee,” Mellifera Bees was founded by beekeeper Melissa Cartwright, whose first name means “honey bee.” She harvests honey from backyards and rooftops in Vancouver and the Lower Mainland. It is unprocessed and infused with organic and fair trade ingredients from independent BC businesses.

Local bc honey                         Melissa Cartwright (photo by Tara Dwelsdorf for This Fair Land)

 

Like many local artisans, Melissa has seen some good success with her products. However, she faces a unique business challenge, because her bees are a vulnerable workforce. The decline in bee populations has been a serious global issue over the past decade. In order to maintain a steady supply of honey, Melissa needs to have a diverse selection of local hives.

 

gift baskets and honey bc

 

 

In addition to a reverence of honey bees and delicious honey, there is a growing awareness that the loss of pollinators would cause tremendous devastation to our local food systems, natural habitats and our local economies.

 

According to the British Bee-keepers Association, honey bees contribute more to their local economy than the royal family.

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When you purchase locally harvested honey, you are supporting local bees and their lovely neighbourhood bee keepers. Your are also nourishing your body with awesome nutritional benefits. You can find Mellifera Bees Honey in our Vancouver Foodie gift, our Local Gourmand gift, The Locavore and The Key to Vancouver. You can also follow Melissa on instagram: @mellifera_bees and catch her Friday bee facts on twitter: @MelliferaBees

 

local bc honey

 

 

As you enjoy your toast and tea with honey, you can further support pollinators by planting flowering plants. According to Melissa, honey bees love purple flowers, such as Lavender. In addition to assisting pollinators, this resilient fragrant flower can endure periods of drought.

bees up close

 

 

 

 

 

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Saul Good Gifts + the ‘We Are Local’ Pop Up Shop

28 Nov

‘We Are Local’ Holiday Pop-Up Shop

 

 

 

From now to December 31, 2012

 

 

 

Open Daily 11-7

 

 

 

2539 Main St.

 

 

 

We are excited to be participating in the ‘We are Local’ Pop Up Shop’! This shop is an innovative way to do your holiday shopping, because it provides the experience of enjoying a curated art exhibit. While you shop, you can enjoy one of the six talented local illustrators, who have been invited to paint the front window of the shop (one per week).

 

 

 

In addition to featuring local gift boxes, this Pop-Up Shop features beautiful gift certificates to your favourite independently-owned local businesses. You can also purchase unique greeting cards and stocking stuffers.

 

 

 

 

 

Support your local economy and buy local gifts this holiday season! It is fun, delicious, creative and unique.

 

 

 

Participating businesses:

 

 

 

Acorn

 

Ainsworth Custom Design

 

The Archetype

 

Beansprouts

 

Beta5

 

Bird on a Wire

 

The Board of Trade Co.

 

Brick & Mortar Living

 

Button Button

 

Café Medina

 

The Cascade Room

 

Chambar

 

Charlie & Lee

 

Collage Collage

 

Community Thrift & Vintage

 

Country Beads

 

dandelionKIDS

 

Devil May Wear

 

Dilly Dally

 

The Dirty Apron Cooking School & Delicatessen

 

Dream

 

El Camino’s

 

Erin Templeton

 

Exhibit

 

The Five Point

 

Habit Lounge

 

Heather Ross [in house]

 

Honey Gifts

 

Ishara

 

Kafka’s Coffee

 

Kali Trading

 

Kranky Cafe

 

Kroma Artist AcrylicsLace Embrace

 

Lark

 

Little Dream

 

Lucy’s Eastside Diner

 

Lüt

 

LYNNstevens

 

 

 

 

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Wine Pairing Guide: Local BC Wine + Vancouver Artisan Confections

15 Nov

 

We recently caught up with Valerie Stride from The Demystified Vine and got some great advice on how to pair local BC wines with some of our favouriteVancouver artisan confections. Check out these clear, easy and helpful tips! Your indulgent epicurian moments are about to be upgraded and demystified!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Valerie Stride is the creator of the The Demystified Vine (@DemystifiedVine). She is a Vancouver-based WSET Certified Wine Writer & Enthusiast. Her clear and concise blog seeks to unlock the mystery of the wine world!

 

 

 

Pairing #1: Cocolico Shortbread Caramels and Wendel’s Macadamia Shortbread (Gluten free) + Camelot 2011 Gewurztraminer (off-dry)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Review: The unsweet shortbread focuses on the flour and butter profiles. Since the 2011 Camelot Gewurz is off-dry, meaning very slightly sweet, the residual sugar in the wine enhances the experience of tasting the buttery shortbread alongside the fruit and spice in the wine.

 

 

 

Important Tip : Sweetness is the main culprit for making unappealing wine and food interactions. Therefore, always make sure that your wine is sweeter than your dessert. If your dessert is sweeter than your wine, when you take a sip of your wine it will seem overly acidic and unapproachable. The whole point of food and wine pairings is to enjoy a balance of flavour profiles!

 

 

 

Pairing #2: Cocolico Caramel Poppycock + Clos du Soleil Saturn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Review: Clos du Soleil’s Saturn is a Sauternes-style dessert wine made from 100% Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc. It is a white wine that has been slightly effected by botrytis – also known as Noble Rot – which produces orange marmalade flavours. The Cocolico popcorn by Wendy Boys, is a succulent pairing for the Saturn not only because the Saturn is sweeter than the popcorn, but because the body of the popcorn is not light and fluffy. The popcorn is heavier due to the caramel, butter, and mixed nut clusters. Therefore, the popcorn and wine balance well together because of the weightier, syrupy viscosity of the Saturn (due to it being higher in sugar) and the atypical weight of the popcorn.

 

 

 

Important Tip: Balance food flavour profiles to the elements of the varietal(s) in your wine. For example, white wines tend to be lighter in flavour and body, so match it with a food that is lighter in flavour and body.

 

 

 

Pairing #3: Beta 5 Darker Chocolate + Blasted Church “Amen” Non-Vintage Port-de-Merlot

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Review: Merlot is a medium bodied wine to start. A port-style fortified wine will have more alcohol, and a slightly more potent form of the original varietal, but with added sweetness. Pairing a fortified wine with dark chocolate is a match made in heaven, as dark chocolates tend to be in the 75% cocoa range and are not sweet, but bitter.  The hint of sugar in the Amen Port-de-Merlot will impeccably complement the dry and bitter qualities in the chocolate, because its flavour profile blesses us with cocoa, berries, and caramel. Yum.

 

 

 

Important Tip: Match the body of your food to the body of your wine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Infused Artisan Honey from Local Vancouver Rooftops

09 Aug

honey

Melissa’s love of honey began with a rainy day on Galiano Island when she decided to escape from a soggy west coast downpour. She went into a local book shop and became absorbed in a beekeeping book. From within the pages of this book, Melissa’s destiny unfolded and she soon became an innovative artisan beekeeper in Vancouver B.C…and the queen of Mellifera Bees. 

 

From Chinatown to Le Marché St.George, Mellifera Bees are creating an important addition to Vancouver’s ecosystem. The Saul Good Gift Co. is thrilled to add this unique product to our Vancouver gift baskets. Although honey has always been a classic gift, it is exciting to take it to the next level for urban artisanal food.

 

Interestingly, the location of a beehive can determine different characteristics in the honey. Mellifera has hives located on a rooftop in Chinatown and also one on the roof of Le Marche St. George, a well curated market featuring delicious Vancouver artisan fare.

Aside from the potent personality of urban beehives, Mellifera differentiates with unique infusions. Melissa adds fair trade and organic ingredients sourced from independently owned BC companies.

 

If you want to expand your honey experience, try out Millifera’s pairing suggestions below:

 

Vanilla Infused Honey

Try it with: Pecans, brie, pears and Earl Grey tea.

 

Cardamom Infused Honey

Try it with: Pure vanilla bean ice cream,  lace mulled wine and rum cake, mancheego cheese or plain goat’s milk yogurt.

 

Lemon Infused Honey

Try it with: Grilled chicken, salmon, toast, rooibos tea, or pair it with wine and cheese.

 

Look out for Mellifera Bees honey in our local Vancouver gift baskets.

 

 

 

 

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Vancouver Arts Innovation & Business : Orcas take over Strathcona

01 Aug

 

Between rail yards and the clamor of the Downtown East Side, there lies an excess of concrete, industrial buildings, and bare walls. When art emerges here, it is a gift to the community of Strathcona and the city of Vancouver. The gift of public art sparks creativity and breeds innovation. Creativity and innovation nourish entrepreneurship. Therefore, murals do more than bring beauty to a neighbourhood…they also improve the socio-economic landscape of urban communities.

 

 

We recently discovered a unique gift : A local group of Vancouver youth has created an underwater oasis full of orcas. This group is lead by Todd Polich. He has been painting environmentally focused murals for the last few years. His goal has been to inspire people to take action for environmental conservation. This goal has been recently coming to fruition.

 

 

In order to create conversations about the environment, Todd has infused his mural skills into his  ‘Art of Empowerment’ youth programs. These programs teach kids about art, nature, and painting murals in meaningful spaces. He hopes that young participants will gain a renewed appreciation of the environment through the nature themed mural projects. He also enjoys the sense of pride that is instilled in youth participants.

 

 

Todd was inspired by public art as a teen and had a love for nature and the environment from camping as a child. He wants to help people realize their connection living with wildlife HERE (not separated from nature and the environment, we’re all part of it here together). Todd has witnessed his youth murals convert spaces. In one case, there was an area near a school where kids littered and threw cigarette butts on the ground. This scene changed after a nature mural was created. Through the pride and beauty of this project, the litter stopped gathering and was replaced by a new sense of respect and ownership.

 

 

The latest mural is on the Sunrise Soya building on Powell St at Hawks. Sunrise is Canada’s largest tofu manufacturer and one of Strathcona’s oldest businesses. This company is active in the Strathcona community and the Strathcona Business Improvement Association. As a business that gives back, it is fitting for this mural to come alive on the exterior of Sunrise Soya. This mural project was recently featured on CBC news. If you want to check out this video clip, please click below.



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Help is the Greatest Gift: Ayoudo Social Garden

12 Apr


As you may realize, Vancouver is a unique city full of many unique local gifts. Sometimes the perfect local gift cannot be found at a market, a craft fair or a gift company. Sometimes the perfect gift is a helping hand.

 

Getting the right help from the right person is a timeless gift that will forever be classy and meaningful. At the Saul Good Gift Co., we are excited to help spread the word about Ayoudo Social Garden. This new innovative app has recently brought together two things that we love:

 

1) Connecting people with help

 

2) Farming and Garden

 

In Vancouver, we endure many dark soggy days and we value the few precious days of sunshine that we are blessed with. Backyard gardens and farms have become one of Vancouver’s favourite ways to create more natural beauty and celebrate brights days. Backyard gardens are also one of the best things you can do for the environment, your body, your soul and your pocketbook.

 

‘Ayoudo’s Social Garden’ helps connect passionate city slickers with skilled gardeners and farmers.

 

 

 

Get gardening and get to know your neighbours.

 

The coolest quality of Ayoudo is that it connects you with help from people who are trusted by your local community. Although you might connect with someone you don’t know directly…you don’t have to worry about dealing with anyone who is notoriously untrustworthy.

 

In addition to helping people get help, Ayoudo is also facilitating interactive forums where gardeners can connect across the city and exchange knowledge. Users can either request or offer paid help, or use the app’s volunteer feature to arrange unpaid or recreational gardening sessions.

If you know someone who is new to gardening and wants help….or if you know a super skilled gardener who has an abundance of knowledge and skill…Help us spread the word! Giving and receiving help is an awesome gift!