Not any gift will do

AT WORK

A corporate gift-giving specialist treads carefully

a basket of chocolates usually works

Working

November 22, 2006|By Tyeesha Dixon | Tyeesha Dixon,Sun Reporter

Patricia Desiderio

Corporate gift specialist

Patty's Gifts and Baskets LLC, Forest Hill

Age --53

Years on the job --Four

Salary --$40,000 to $50,000, depending on number of clients.

How she got started --About eight years ago, Desiderio bought a basket as a gift for a sick friend and thought to herself, "I bet I can start a basket business." At the time, she was making wreaths and other crafts for local country stores. Although Desiderio's first two attempts at the basket business failed, she did a year and a half of research, which included taking community college courses to learn how to write a business plan. She changed her focus from personal to corporate gifting and opened the business in 2002.

Typical day --During the busy holiday season, Desiderio's day starts at 7 a.m. During the course of the day, she places orders and consults with clients. She also checks the status of orders, and she e-mails all her clients to let them know when their gifts have been delivered to customers. A typical day ends about 5 p.m., but during busy periods, Desiderio often works past 8 p.m. On the weekends, she maintains the company Web site.

Corporate gifting --"It's volume selling," says Desiderio, who adds that corporate gifting is different from individual gift giving. "It's more about education with corporations - and the most cost-effective ways to thank their customers." The company also specializes in employee recognition, branding and marketing. It offers more than 400 products, including kosher gift items and an international line available to more than 40 countries from a supplier in Belgium. "We help businesses grow their business."

Gift dos and don'ts --Desiderio suggests companies send gifts that are $25 or less because expensive gifts may make customers think the company has too much money or spends frivolously. "It's important with the gift you send that it sends the right message." Another tip: Don't use black and gold wrapping paper - they're signs of mourning.

Busiest months --"It's year-round business, but my busiest is September through December."

Pricing --Gifts range from less than $2, with promotional fortune cookies, to more than $600 with high-end baskets sent internationally. She earns a commission on the gifts she sells. She finds gift ideas at industry conventions and trade shows.

Most popular gift --Ghirardelli all-chocolate gift basket, which costs about $35. Holiday gift baskets ranging anywhere from $25 to $125 and cheesecakes are also popular items. "Anything under $25 is becoming very popular because you need a lot [of gifts] during the holidays."

The good --"It's a fun business. Everyone gets excited when they get a gift."

The bad --When gifts arrive late or damaged.

tyeesha.dixon@baltsun.com

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