Temperatures are dropping. Trees are getting trimmed. Stores are bustling. It can only mean one thing—the holidays are just around the corner.
Not sure what to get your loved ones this year? We encourage you to shop Endicott this season, and a handful of Gulls have got you covered. From personalized pet products, catered-to-you charcuterie, and stellar stickers, here are the coolest holiday gifts from our own Endicott entrepreneurs.
Pets to Prints
“Some might say I took being a ‘dog mom’ to the extreme, but I know so many others want to show off their pets just like me!” said Brooke Borda ’18, founder of Indiana-based Pets to Prints. During the COVID-19 pandemic, she and her partner adopted a pup for the first time. It wasn’t just love at first sight but also the spark that put her business in motion.
“I started playing around with some pictures of my puppy digitally and showed some family and friends my designs. They gave me such positive feedback and wanted me to draw some of their pets,” she said. “It was at that moment I realized I was on to something.”
The graphic design major originally outsourced her printing to local shops; today, she creates and produces all of her pet-centric products from home. “My business took off and became successful,” Borda said. “It’s not an easy road to start a business, but I love being able to help other pet owners show love to their pets.”
During her time at Endicott, Borda did her senior thesis on sustainable package design for a pet store. This very project helped her realize she could do something similar as a career. “It got me in the mindset of starting a business myself,” she admits. “Endicott truly helped me figure out what I wanted to do after graduation.”
Gift to Get: Custom Pet Ceramic Ornament. Price starts at $24.99.
These circular ornaments are customizable on both sides, allowing you to pick a pet portrait for the front and write something special on the back. Customers can even request a design mockup beforehand, to ensure their ornament is exactly as they hoped.
“If I had to pick one product to be a gift this holiday season, I would choose an ornament. I feel like ornaments are such sentimental things for families,” Borda said. “Adding your pet’s custom portrait on an ornament shows they are truly part of the family.”
“I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit and knew I wanted to be my own boss one day,” said Caeli Byrne Vilandre ’10, who founded Massachusetts-based Bespoke Boards with her chef husband, Christopher. The two met while working at Davio’s when Caeli was a server. Then, in January 2020, she saw someone selling charcuterie boards online and had an epiphany: “We could totally do this!”
Armed with hospitality and marketing skills, the couple began crafting boards for friends and family. “We received great feedback and lots of encouragement,” Vilandre, who majored in sports management and minored in hospitality, said of the early days of her venture. During the pandemic, she put Bespoke Boards on the backburner before realizing a unique opportunity had presented itself. “We recognized that our pre-pandemic concept of creating memorable off-site dining experiences would fill a real void during quarantine.”
While working a full-time gig in marketing, Vilandre spent her nights and weekends creating an LLC, securing a website, and building social media accounts for her business. In the end, “we were able to reach six figures in sales in less than 10 months,” she said.
Through her experience at Endicott, which included internships with the Bruins and the Patriots, Vilandre discovered how rewarding creating extraordinary customer experiences could be. And when it was time to make the leap and open her own business, she said, “Endicott provided the sound foundation and confidence I needed.”
Gift to Get: Christmas Tree Charcuterie Board. $105.
This 17-by-12-inch charcuterie board comes on a Christmas tree-shaped platter and is available in regular, nut-allergy, gluten-free, and vegetarian options. While each board is unique, customers can expect an assortment of cheeses, fresh fruits, and dietary-friendly accoutrements.
“Bespoke means tailored, unique, individual, and that is what you’ll get when you order one of our boards,” Vilandre noted. “I wanted to create items that would really make people say, ‘Wow.’”
Art by Steph
“This is what fuels me and inspires me,” said Stephanie Kubish ’22 about creating art, a passion the studio art major has turned into a viable business on Etsy. “I first started my business in 2019 as a sticker company. During the pandemic, I was able to take my business more seriously, creating more sticker designs, prints, and launching my Etsy.”
A trained 2D painter and 3D sculptor, Kubish is also a self-taught jewelry maker. She began producing pieces for herself to wear and soon began making accessories for others. Today, her Etsy sells a variety of necklaces and earrings she’s crafted with crystal, glass, and amethyst materials, to name just a few.
“Friends, professors, and events at Endicott helped me become the business owner I am today,” Kubish shared. “Professor Kyungmin Park taught me how to create and price my products to compensate for my time and effort. Endicott also ran pop-up events for small businesses, which helped me gain a lot of business and followers.”
For Kubish, the holidays are all about togetherness—something that was challenging during the pandemic. “I know in recent years it has been hard to be physically close to those we love, but giving back has made me feel a little closer to my loved ones. And handmade gifts mean even more, in my opinion,” she said. “Not only are you giving something made with love, but you’re also supporting an artist and their practice.”
Gift to Get: Harry Styles Fine Line Sticker. $3.50.
Show your love for the breakout One Direction star with this cute vinyl sticker. Depicting the “Watermelon Sugar” singer in brown slacks and a bowler shirt, this weatherproof sticker can withstand wind, rain, and the dishwasher. As with all of Kubish’s stickers, she says this one is “great for laptops, water bottles, and bumper stickers.”
More Gull Ventures with Great Gifts
Borda, Vilandre, and Kubish aren’t the only Gulls selling outstanding gifts this holiday season. Here’s what some of our other students and alumni are creating these days.
Big Ass Iced Coffee: After moving to Seattle, Casey Arnold ’14 launched Big Ass Iced Coffee to fill a market void for the large Dunkin’ sippers she loved in New England. Made with Arabica beans imported from Colombia, her freeze-dried, instant iced coffees come in black and pumpkin flavors ($15). Her website also offers a glass tumbler, coffee sleeve, and logo sticker.
Faces Brewing: A family venture co-owned by Anthony Martignetti ’13, Faces Brewing in Malden, Mass., specializes in good eats and good vibes. With a stacked schedule of live performances, a dozen beers on tap, and a robust range of refreshments, this is a great place to drink and be merry. Or, pick up one of their many to-go cans to celebrate from the comforts of home.
Gold Star Designs: If you’re looking to give the gift of jewelry this season, look no further than Gold Star Designs. Through this business, Emily Stys ’22 sells a slew of her dangly earrings and other handmade accessories. You can also catch her at pop-up events in Greater Boston.
Holly Nichols Illustration: The 2013 graduate offers myriad products through her Instagram account, including prints, calendars, coloring books, phone cases, and more. Boasting 1.5 million followers, this artist-author is definitely having a moment.
Souljah: Teyshawn Jackson ’22 is the mind behind Souljah, a streetwear brand that donates a portion of its proceeds to charity. Courage, pride, and passion are the pillars of his business, which offers casual but stylish attire for men, women, and children.