Gifting Memories

Planning on sending personalized gifts this Ramadan? This small business may just be the answer

By Sabrina Fatma Ahmad

With deadlines and traffic making it harder for even the sincerest well-wisher to be present for their loved ones as frequently as possible, a well-thought gift is sometimes a great way to show one’s caring. The pandemic proved just how underrated a care package can be.

The realization about the value of a thoughtful personalized gift struck sisters Nasia Chowdhury and Priyanka Khan Hamid a little earlier than that.

“We started in 2019 after being really frustrated with the gifting scene in Dhaka,” reminisces Nasia, adding: “A lot of our friends were having babies and we were trying to get cute gifts for the mommy and baby from multiple stores across Dhaka in crazy traffic. We realized just how difficult it was to put together a thoughtful gift that spoke of our relationship with the person we were giving it to or reflected our own personalities and that of the recipient too. Then finding pretty gift boxes along with packaging materials were also troublesome not to mention expensive because sometime the gift boxes at the stores were almost half as expensive as the gift itself.

The two sisters, who describe themselves as “partners in crime” since childhood, then decided to partner up in business, and this resulted in Remember Me? Special Gifts, a bespoke gifting service that curates gift hampers and personalizes them for their growing roster of clients.

HOW IT WORKS

You can find Remember Me? Special Gifts on their socials (Facebook and Instagram) where they display their past hampers, and clients have the option of re-ordering these exact ones, or adding and subtracting items to personalize the gift according to their budgets and the occasion. Nasia, who takes care of logistics, sets about procuring the requested items from the extensive network of vendors the business has befriended over the years, and Priyanka takes care of the aesthetics of the packaging, so that the recipient gets a beautiful hamper at the end of it.

“We don’t have ready-made options but every now and then we curate hampers we prefer and put it up for spot purchase,” explains Nasia. “Our usual delivery time is 4-5 days after order confirmation unless there’s a customized product like a mug, or t-shirt, or water bottle or anything else in the personalized category. With these products our delivery time is 8-10 days. If someone knocks us for an urgent delivery for the next day, then we offer an item range only from what we have in our immediate stock and if our delivery schedule allows us to deliver then we do.”

We try to provide an experience of shopping without them having to take the hassle of physically doing it or trying to find the perfect product from hundred different online pages

BUMPY BEGINNINGS AND LEMONADE

Anyone trying to start a business in Bangladesh would attest to the difficulties – establishing an identity, lack of startup capital, and creating a niche in the nascent custom gifting scene were all challenges that Remember Me and other gifting services have had to undergo. Added to this was the conundrum of their delicate packaging, which could not withstand rough handling through third-party delivery services. “We only deliver through cars which is why our delivery rates are probably a little higher than other companies and that is why we still haven’t been able to expand to other cities in Bangladesh because we cannot guarantee the quality and that is something we absolutely cannot compromise on” states Nasia.

And then came the pandemic, which effectively shut down all business across Bangladesh for at least six months in 2020.

“It hit me suddenly that we might be in lockdown but people still have occasions to celebrate or just to cheer up their loved ones in quarantine so what would be a better time than this to resume?” Nasia muses. “Wander Woman had launched their second virtual WanderVentures and we decided to participate even though Priyanka was stuck in an indefinite lockdown in Australia. The WanderVentures was a big hit because the service we provided were precisely what people needed then. So in the first nine months when we had started, we had done 78 hampers but after we resumed in a little less than three months we had completed 109 hampers.” Orders began to pour in, not just from within Bangladesh but from clients based in UK, Scotland, Australia, New Zealand, USA, Canada, and UAE. Remember Me? Special Gifts had arrived.

PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE

Since their tentative beginnings, the sisters have gone from strength to strength, seeing boosts in sales during all the Hallmark holidays, although they’re just as happy for birthdays and anniversaries happening every day, all year around. While each order is different, they do have two types of hampers that are constantly re-ordered with tweaks. One is the “Pamper Hampers” which consist of skincare and bath products from brands like Bath & Bodyworks, The Bodyshop, and Victoria’s Secret, and frequently carry a few fragrances which aren’t readily available in Bangladesh. The other is the “Munchies” hamper, which, like the name suggests, is a snack hamper.

The past few years have brought many epiphanies and heartwarming moments. Nasia fondly recalls a small rush order for a girl on a budget seeking a quick gift for a wedding. The small gift consisted only of a personalized mug and a scented candle, but turned out so pretty that it drove home the realization that the attention put into a gift matters more than the size or price of it. There have been larger orders too, like a batch order for 20 Christmas gifts which put Priyanka’s baking skills to use and involved a lot of freshly home-made desserts. The rewards, the sisters insist, outweigh the stress.

Each time we curate something unique for a client, they share a bit of their story with the recipient and context for the gift and we in turn become a little part of their story

Remember Me? Special Gifts recently started operations on a limited scale in Australia in 2022, and is looking to expand on that, and hope to penetrate the corporate gift market soon.

Check them out on Facebook and Instagram if you’re looking for the perfect gift for this festival season.

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