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From Concept to Product: The Story of a New Sentimental Family Gift

How do gift lines make their way from concept to products? Many times, the process is more like a journey and the final product ends up with a story all its own. Creating "Letters from the Nest" was definitely a journey and yes, a story... In the 20 years that I have been creating gifts and sentiments, sometimes there is an idea that gets stuck in my head and my heart. It starts as a little seed of inspiration and it can take months or even years to reveal itself. So it was with my newest gift line, "Letters from the Nest". It started as a love for images of mother birds, babies and the nest. As a mother, I have always felt a bond with mama birds. From the tattered pages of one of my favorite beloved children's books, "Are you my Mother?", to watching a mother hummingbird lovingly build a nest outside our first home in California, I have felt human mommies and bird mommies understand each other. I certainly feathered my nest when I was expecting each of my 4 children. That burst of energy between the nauseous months and the "are we there yet?" months, that had me planning, painting, cleaning and readying my home to welcome each new baby.


As my children have grown, when trying to "teach" instead of "do" for them, I would explain that I was the mother bird and my job was to help them fly. If they left my nest and plummeted to the ground because I hadn't allowed, or taught them how to spread their wings, then I would not have done my job. They don't always love my mama bird analogy, as I teach them by having them DO their own dishes, make their beds, clean their rooms, make their lunches and the list goes



Hang on baby bird!

I wanted to take my love for birds, home, nests and mothering and put it into a special gift with a message that would be used, appreciated and admired. I considered so many gift items... bracelets, vases, trinkets, pens, name it. My list grew to fill a page. Of course when making a product, there is much more than the idea to consider, there is sourcing, pricing, marketing competition and much more. I didn't want to lose my message in the business end, but sometimes the best ideas sit on the shelf because of business, and my nest idea sat on the shelf for a couple of years, as I considered the ideal gift to go with my message. I looked at the things I saved because they meant something. I looked at what my mother and my grandmother saved. I save letters and pictures. I have a Valentines' Day card from my grandmother who passed away when I was 7. I have birthday cards from friends in elementary school, letters from girlfriends secretly passed in high school, and adorable and hilarious handmade cards from my kids. My mother has these kind of things tucked away too. Do you?


When I want to say something meaningful to someone, I send a card or a letter. I think in today's fast-paced email, text and tweet world, a letter speaks volumes. Don't you get a little thrill when you see a hand addressed envelope amongst the pile of ads, bills and endless credit card offers? So I had a nest for home, and a letter for what? Well... you write letters and you open letters., so the idea of a beautiful pen or letter opener came to mind. I discarded the idea of a pen because eventually the ink would run out and the pen would be set aside or thrown out. The idea of a letter opener was intriguing. A letter opener is something my grandma had on her desk as long as I could remember. I love letter openers because they are a bit old school (it's that modern world thing again) and they are lasting. I think letter openers bring us back a a good way. Do you have a letter opener? Is there a letter opener of a family member that brings back memories? For me, it all fit- the nest, the heart and now something to keep in the home. I penned some sentiments for occasions and people that were centered around the nest, and I scribbled my letter opener designs on pieces of scrap paper. I wanted the image to be of birds, a nest and love. Here is what Ienvisioned




















And here is where I arrived with the help of a talented artist!

letter opener linework 1

Now on to the artwork, packaging and presentation. Again with the help of my talented artist, I was thrilled with the marriage of all the elements I was looking for- combining a feeling for nature, vintage, love and beauty. Sometimes in product development, the final product doesn't match your vision. Finding an artist who understands what you are trying to create is one of the keys to success, as well as good communication and visuals from me. I also think the story helps. Knowing the why, the journey and the story behind a product helps it come to life for someone trying to understand my vision.


I hope the letter openers find their place in homes, on desks and in offices, where they are used and admired. I hope the sentiment stays with them each time they use it. I hope that mother's, daughters, grandmas, and couples smile when they think of their "nest" because isn't our "home"...where are heart is?


To see all the Letters from the Nest designs, visit