Kendra King has put together a lot of baskets, but none so extravagant as a "coming of age" gift she assembled on behalf of a major TV network executive who had forgotten his daughter's 21st birthday.
"His assistant called and said, 'It's his only child's 21st birthday,' " King said. The executive was ready to spend $500, but the basket had to be in London the next day.
King assembled a "becoming-a-woman" basket, complete with Belgian chocolates, candles, a silk robe, champagne, bath salts, oils and sponges and delivered it via air courier to the young woman's doorstep.
"Shipping cost a fortune, but the girl never knew Daddy forgot," said King. "That's the whole point. Someone like that needs someone like me to make sure their daughters don't know they've forgotten their 21st birthday."
King makes it her business to help busy people give gifts, albeit usually not such opulent ones. King owns and operates Artfull Baskets, a themed gift-basket business based in a warehouse space at Santa Monica Airport.
King's baskets are what she calls "concept-driven," meaning they are given artistic names and themes, usually inspired by painters or works of art. Her best-selling baskets include "The Prodigy" baby gifts "for the newest artist in residence" and "Norman Rockwell's 'The Physical,' " a get-well basket featuring fortune cookies, an apple-shaped cookie, chocolate band-aids, and a hypodermic needle/pen, arranged in a small rectangular cardboard box printed like a doctor's bag.
You can't buy these baskets in stores; King's clients are the people on her mailing lists.
A former assistant to actress Kathy Bates who later went into international television sales and distribution, King started the business in 1994 by calling up a list of her former contacts in the entertainment industry. She also went through the phone book and created a mailing list for her catalog, targeting personnel managers, executive assistants, office managers, heads of administration and human resources directors.
She added to her lists by joining networking and referral groups, and in her second year of business hired the Women's Referral Service, a consulting service that puts women in touch with other women, to buy and manage her mailing lists.
She left the TV business because she was tired of the long hours and travel schedule. She was inspired by all the rotten gifts she received from business contacts. "I had gotten so many bad baskets, I thought I could do better," she said.
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