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Catherine started Bestowe Gifting in 2017. They detail the beginnings of their company in their Starter Story interview: 
Q: How did you get started on Bestowe Gifting?
I started my career in graphic design: packaging, branding, and marketing. I remember a project at an agency that I was working on, I was designing a launching deck for a very high-profile client in PowerPoint. It took months. Yes, PowerPoint. It was absolutely as boring and as tedious as it sounds. As a designer at heart, it felt like a part of my artistry was dying with the limitations of the projects. I always loved the people that I worked with, loved the creativity and collaboration, but I was slowly losing my passion.
I always had ideas for a business of my own, but just never leaped. I was scared I would fail. I didn't have a partner to help guide me. I didn't have the money. I didn't have time. I was the breadwinner and just frankly couldn't risk quitting my job to do something else. These were all the excuses that plagued my failures. I would start something or was waiting for someone else to work alongside me, not believing that I alone could manage and run a business.
Then, about 10 years ago I started a non-profit business with a friend, called Local Social. Our mission was to merge elements of design, art, and installation for inspiration. We organized local events and supported the arts by developing relationships and communities of like-minded people. The blog was hard: our hearts were in it, but we couldn't figure out how to make money at it. Blogs were all over the internet, but we didn't really care enough to understand how to make it worthwhile. We loved the event work though.
At the local level, we excelled. Meeting artisans and diving into the wealth of creativity in the Bay Area was our cup of tea (me a graphic designer, and my friend who is an interior designer). Not for lack of trying, but after 2 years it fizzled. I never think of this as a failure though. I think of it as a stepping stone. I wasn't sure where it was going to lead me, but the experiences and the challenges were etched in my brain.
Flash forward many years later: I was attending an event in Oakland, hosted by Bright Side Collective. Over 100 inspiring women attended. It was as I mingled around the room that I started to realize, every one of these women had full-time jobs and side hustles. We were all desiring the same thing, to have something that spoke to our passions and desires, not just for our souls but for our livelihood. And that realization fueled my passion.
Side Hustle To Reality
Bestowe was a dream that I quickly learned I would need support making to happen. I was a creative and not a business owner. I hired a business consultant and pitched my dad to give me a loan to start the business. He was ruthless in his questions. He was good like that and his questions made me think about how my business was going to become successful. And like all those women at the Bright Side Collective event, I reached out to women friends, people just starting or established to help support me mentally and emotionally. I couldn't have done this without all of their encouragement.
Word of Mouth really worked when I started reaching out to Event Planners and affiliates that could work with me to be my spokespeople.
Since launching, I have had constant hurdles and challenges. I thought once Bestowe's eCommerce site was online things would be a walk in the park. I had to quickly learn about advertising online, where my audience invested their time, SEO, conversions, on-page marketing, the importance of a good strategy and long-term goals, and analytics - all things that have challenged me to the near brink of insanity. However, through it all, I am living that vision that has always been stirring inside me.
Ever since I started, I knew that this was a valuable idea. I think society is longing for a way to make their lives easier, but not lose quality and connection. As we find it harder and harder to connect and people feel more isolated with Covid, we can still connect online. Now, with Bestowe, you aren’t only able to get something you need (ie. a gift for Grandma, a present for yourself, or a gift for your new baby niece) from our site without leaving your home, but you can read about how and know you are supporting local craftspeople and your community through charitable donations that we do to Direct Relief, Feeding America, NAACP, and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. If anyone moment solidified that what I was doing was the right thing, it was 2020.
The product I choose also supports ethical and social accountability. Aesthetically, I have to choose packaging and product that looks great (it’s just in my blood), but the curation behind everything is important and carefully combined to tell a unique story about the gift as if you went to various favorite small stores and picked out the products yourself.
Bestow is still my side-hustle. I have 3 full-time jobs (my design job, Bestow, and my family) that I’m doing until I can make this business something that supports me and my family.
Contributors to this article:
- Pat Walls, Founder @ Starter Story