Focus on Black-owned business: Fairlawn woman turns craft skills into custom gift business
FAIRLAWN — A gift basket for a holiday gift. A gift bag for Mother's Day. A custom box or basket for a corporate event.
Dion Stentz of Fairlawn offers these and more through her business, Uniquely Inspired Gift Baskets.
Stentz, 49, said that she, her husband and son, who is now 12, moved to Ohio about 10 years ago from Michigan.
Before launching her own business, Stentz had a job selling home interior items, such as decor and soaps. She started to present the items she wanted to sell in a little basket and found that people liked her arrangements.
Stentz said her friends told her, "You should start selling things."
At first, Stentz said, she didn't think she could sell basket arrangements. However, after awhile, she started doing a few at the request of friends and family for birthdays, anniversaries and holidays. Soon, she was getting regular requests, and officially started her business in 2017.
She delivers her items to places within the Fairlawn, Bath and Copley area and ships them anywhere in the continental United States. "I love looking at people's faces when they get them," Stentz said.
"It makes me feel warm inside to put a smile on someone's face," she said. "I've always been arts and craftsy. This takes arts and crafts to the next level."
Stentz, who operates the business by herself, said she offers customers the ability to customize their orders.
"When they call me, I ask what their vision is, and also what the price point is," she said. "They can customize a gift basket with me. It's more personal than buying a basket premade from a store or a catalogue. For example, 'He likes chocolate, but he's allergic to nuts.' I can give my client a chance to arrange what they want and what their needs are."
In addition, Uniquely Inspired Gift Baskets can include personalized totes, plates, tags and more. This is "an extra niche I do," Stentz said.
One challenge for Stentz was learning to pack the gift baskets, bags and boxes properly, especially for shipping. However, she enjoys the challenge.
"I get excited making baskets," she said. "It's kind of like engineering. I have to make it sit up and make sure it doesn't fall."
When shipping baskets, she shrink-wraps everything to make sure the items "can't move," she said.
Though she does gift baskets and arrangements for individuals, Stentz said she has been targeting corporate Realtors, offering "welcome home" arrangements and closing gifts; arrangements for medical centers wishing to gift their staffs; and hotels hosting large groups.
"I could do 300 gifts" for a hotel, she said.
Some of her popular baskets include an Ohio basket, which feature a basket in the shape of the Buckeye State, and Akron-themed arrangements, Stentz said.
"The Ohio shape is really popular," she said. "I did a lot of those. I shipped a lot out of state"
Her advice to those thinking of starting their own business?
"Go for it," Stentz said. "Don't let your insecurities or hesitations stop you. Don't let someone tell you it's a dumb idea. No one ever told me that, but I've heard stories from others. If you don't do it, you will regret it. You will always wonder 'what if?'"
Reporter April Helms can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
At a glance
Business: Uniquely Inspired Gift Baskets
Owner: Dion Stentz
Phone number: 330-809-9957
About the series
The Beacon Journal is profiling Black-owned businesses in Summit County. Read more of these profiles at https://bit.ly/3jb0h1e. The Beacon Journal will continue to highlight minority-owned businesses as part of its ongoing regular coverage.
This article originally appeared on Akron Beacon Journal: Creativity leads to own custom gift basket business for Fairlawn woman