Today’s wedding vendor interview is with Evona Niewiadomska, CEO & Co-founder of Gourmet Wedding Gifts based in San Diego, California!
Tell us a bit about yourself and your company.
Evona was born in Poland and moved to the States when she was 6. She grew up in Buffalo, NY, and moved to Boston on a complete whim after college – that’s where she met her entrepreneurial boyfriend and now Gourmet Wedding Gifts co-founder, Michael Rheaume. After traveling the world together for almost year in 2014, Evona working as a freelance graphic designer and Mike working remotely for a business he started years prior called SnapKnot, the two decided to get back to the US. Upon their return, they knew they needed to permanently escape the east coast winters so they decided to move to sunny San Diego in 2014 where they launched Gourmet Wedding Gifts in October of 2016.
Read the full interview after the cut!
How did you get into the business?
It was a natural partnership which developed based on both my and Mike’s backgrounds. As someone who is passionate about empowering and supporting small batch makers, I had previously founded a company in the artisan food space called Undiscovered Kitchen. Over time I developed great relationships with food vendors in the industry and noticed that many vendors also offered and were interested in growing their wedding favors business. Mike co-founded SnapKnot, an online resource for couples to find their wedding photographers, and has been working in the wedding space since 2010. We had an initial idea for a partnership between our two companies but ultimately decided to create a new business catering to couples who value high quality gourmet wedding favors and custom gifts – thus, Gourmet Wedding Gifts was born!
What’s your favorite part of the job?
My favorite part of working on Gourmet Wedding Gifts is connecting with people. I am a very social person by nature so nothing makes me more excited than when I’m creating new partnerships, talking to our customers and working on business collaborations. I believe that successful businesses must continuously strive to support and empower the people around them so I focus on opportunities that add value to our vendors and ways to help them grow their businesses, on making our customers fall in love.. with US, and on building and supporting a team that is passionate about their work because it’s the right balance of interesting, challenging and feeding their personal and career needs. Mike’s favorite part of the business is on the operational side – he’s happy around numbers, managing new orders and noticing trends, where we can be more efficient and where we can offer even more value for couples who visit GourmetWeddingGifts.com.
If you could pick one unique product or service offering, which would be your favorite, and why?
It’s really difficult to pick a favorite with so many products as well as artisan makers to choose from! Forced to do so, one of our MANY favorites right now are our Stroopwafel wedding favors. Not just because they are DELICIOUS, but because our customers have been going crazy for them! For those unfamiliar, stroopwafels are traditional Dutch treats eaten with a hot beverage like coffee or tea. Our stroopwafels are handmade and layered with homemade caramel sauce inside – place it on top of your mug to warm up and enjoy an ooey gooey bite!
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned, and would pass along to others just getting started in your field?
Couples today are bombarded from all directions almost as soon as the engagement ring is placed on the bride’s finger – ideas, vendors, websites, calls, emails… There is so much out there for couples to sort through, that it can be tough to carve out your niche in the market – but it can be done! Don’t be afraid to tweak your message as you yourself learn what makes YOU so special and as you gain valuable customer insights and feedback. On the flip side, remember once you do find your secret sauce, stay true to it and the rewards will come.
What are your hobbies or non-work-related activities?
We absolutely love to travel! Exploring new places and planning adventures is something we both love to do together. We down own a lot of “things” – we prefer experiences much more! In fact, when we traveled for almost a year in 2013 we gave away almost everything we owned and only packed up two backpacks to take with us (not as crazy as it sounds, promise) Over the years we’ve had many adventures in several countries in both Europe and Central America, and enjoy even simple road trips in the deserts of Southern California. We love getting off the beaten path.
Any great stories from working with a client?
Every time a bride writes to us or exclaims over the phone, “WOW, thank you, I wasn’t expecting that!” we are grateful. Whether it’s offering to help here or there, making a call to our brides to double check a personalization detail, or offering a suggestion we think might work better for them, we always try to go above and beyond because we know that even the smallest detail can be a BIG DEAL! Our customers are planning the most important day of their lives and we want them to know we’re on THEIR team and here to make their lives EASIER, not more stressful!
What makes you different from others in your field?
As stated above, we are much more than the sum of our products – we authentically care about both our customers and our vendors and the relationships we build with them. We go above and beyond for our customers both on the customer service side but also in curating a selection of artisan wedding favors that are truly one of a kind! We also focus on making the entire process super EASY – too often companies make it so difficult to shop with them. Whether it’s costly shipping charges, complicated checkout pages, vague product descriptions, or an unresponsive customer service team – you won’t find ANY of that on Gourmet Wedding Gifts. Our process is EASY with FREE SHIPPING on everything – Yes everything – we take on the additional expense so that you don’t have to.
Are there any trends that you absolutely love or would love to see brides leave behind?
We are partial…but we simply love leaving guests with favors! Even something small shows an extra level of thought and care for guests. This includes personalized wedding favors for guests and wedding party gifts for the groomsmen and bridesmaids – it makes everyone’s experience more unique and memorable and shows a level of appreciation the bride and groom have for the friends and family who are by their side and support them.
What tips or advice can you give to couples who are in the midst of planning their big day?
Well, of course, the obvious, check out Gourmet Wedding Gifts! Don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you have any questions or suggestions, or if you’re a vendor interested in working together. In general, be kind to yourself as you’re going through a planning process that can at times be chaotic and stressful. In the end, know that everything WILL be perfect, even with its imperfections. Every GREAT story, often starts when something unexpected happens, a blessing in disguise and a story you can tell your family for years and years to come! Laugh it off and enjoy every moment!
Thanks Evona! For more information about Gourmet Wedding Gifts, please visit their WeddingLovely Vendor Guide profile.
Do you have any questions or comments for Evona? Add them to the comments below!