Tali Cohen knew she’d picked up a lifelong partner when she got married three years ago, but what she didn’t know is that she’d pick up a new business, too. Sorting through the details of her big day inspired her to think about doing something more creative—especially if it meant escaping the depths of her corporate finance job.
She nixed planning and catering—”I’m terrible at cooking,” Cohen says—and settled on gift boxes for guests arriving at weddings. “But as I started to explore that,” she says, “I realized it could be bigger than just weddings. I learned about the gifting industry as a whole, and expanded the concept to gifts for all sorts of occasions.” That made sense for Cohen, who says she’s long been the person her friends seek out for gift-giving advice.
What emerged was Cohen’s first iteration of Welcome and Wishes, which offered gift-filled boxes designed for several types of occasions: a housewarming box was packed with coasters and mini towels, an engagement box featured a baby-blue sleep mask, a birthday box exploded with confetti. Cohen attended trade shows and scoured the internet to find the items that fit a personal aesthetic she describes as “clean and modern.” Every piece had to be something she’d want to own herself.
Although the gift boxes were totally picture-perfect and one-of-a-kind, they still catered to a relatively small market. Customers would only place orders when they had friends celebrating particular occasions. So Cohen pivoted: Instead of just pegging the boxes to housewarmings and birthday parties, she started filling them with stuff attuned to intended recipients’ interests.
Instead of a birthday box, for example, she created one for a burgeoning home chef (called “The Gifted Gourmand”), including a tea towel, garlic salt, and Meyer-lemon honey. She swapped the housewarming box for one suited for a workaholic (“The Daily Grind”), with things like a travel mug, business card holder, and ballpoint pens.
And for people whose interests aren’t quite aligned with any of the pre-made boxes, Cohen offers a build-your-own option. Customers can choose items for their boxes from any of the products included in the pre-made sets, or from several other items Cohen stocks, ranging from coloring books to filet mignon beef jerky.
People looking for yet more customization can just consult Cohen herself. She often sources items for individual custom boxes, so if you don’t see exactly what you want on the site, she can probably find it anyway. Recent productions include a purple-themed box for a Northwestern University fan, and a jazzed-up version of an engagement box (with hanky-panky “Bride”-printed underwear) for a new bride-to-be.
As for best-sellers, the baby boxes always top the list. Currently, there are six available, featuring knitted blankets, cotton caps, and stuffed animals, organized in keeping with kid-friendly themes like “Whimsy & Wonder” and “Cozy & Courageous.”
Up next for Welcome and Wishes? “Mom and Me” bath sets (think: candles for mothers and rubber duckies for babies), pregnancy boxes for expecting mothers, and animal-themed boxes for new pet owners.