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Top Six Things I've Learned In My First Year As An Entrepreneur

Steely Dipuccio Anderson

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Happy 1 year anniversary to Bon Vivant! What a year it has been and at the same time, how has it been an entire year?! There are certain moments when time really gets put in to perspective for us and this is certainly one of them for me. This past year has been so amazing for so many reasons, but most importantly because it's been the first year of my life that I've felt like I've found my true purpose (I don't have kids yet and I know that's an entirely different sense of purpose, so I can say this with honesty). Starting a business by yourself is so liberating and exciting, but also terrifying because you know that you own every single ounce of it. All of the right decisions are yours, but the wrong ones are, too. And trust me, there will be wrong ones. It's such a learning experience that I feel like I've grown so much from in just one year and while I don't even pretend to have it all figured out (do we ever, really??), I did feel it was important to note some significant lessons I've learned over the past twelve months and I've narrowed it down to my top six. Enjoy!

  1. LET GO OF THE IDEA OF PERFECTION. I am a Virgo and true to my nature, I am super critical of myself and in many ways, a perfectionist. I don't mean this in the sense that I am extremely organized and meticulous, but from a creative perspective, I hone in on details. This is something I pride myself on and I don't plan to ever change that, but I have learned to loosen up a little. Making decisions is VERY HARD when you're too caught up in trying to be perfect. I used to get upset if I ran out of the right kind of ribbon I wanted to use, or the picture I posted ended up not looking as good as I wanted it to, the list goes on. The truth is that often times we are our own worst critics and no one else cares. Imperfection is what makes us unique and relatable and I think as long as you're passionate and staying true to your mission and values, people will feel that and your business will thrive.
  2. PUT YOURSELF OUT THERE. I still struggle with this one a bit, but I've come a long way. I am not comfortable being the center of attention and making big decisions. Scary thing to say as a business owner, but it's true. I am somewhat introverted and am always over-analyzing my every move, so having other people exposed to this has been pretty terrifying. I knew that if I wanted to actually enjoy that part of my job, I needed to make sure that I was/am as authentic as possible. When it's not natural for you to hear your own voice or see your face on a screen or speak to a group of people about what you do, being authentic is a huge challenge. I think many of us struggle with this, especially given that social media is such a huge way to influence and engage with our customers. My advice is to take baby steps and ease your way in to putting yourself out there. Whether it's commenting on someone's post (something I wouldn't do in the past for fear that they wouldn't respond), or adding a video/story of yourself talking to your followers, just take your time so that it doesn't feel forced. I think people love genuine engagement and at the end of the day, if you don't enjoy it somewhat, don't do it. 
  3. STEP AWAY & ALLOW SPACE. This one is so cliche and also so important. I hear this a lot and I've always understood why it's a good thing, but I didn't realize until I started this business that it's actually really, really hard to do sometimes. When you love what you do and you're passionate about it, it doesn't always feel like work. You don't want to shut it off and even when you attempt to, you're probably still thinking about it. When I've surrounded myself with close friends and family and completely been engulfed in that, I've realized that I wasn't thinking about work and I didn't feel the pressure to post something and when I did get back in to work mode, I felt so much more clarity. We are surrounded by countless distractions simultaneously every minute of every day (I just had a notification on my laptop go off as I was typing that). I turned off all notifications on my phone - ALL OF THEM - so that when I decide to put it away I tend to not think about it at all until I am ready. I also try to meditate once a day, though I am not always consistent. As easy as meditation seems, it's actually really hard for me to make time. I love silence and stillness, but once I jump in to my day it's hard for me to stop. I find that doing this first thing in the morning before emails or coffee or anything else works best for me. 
  4. ASK FOR HELP. Plain and simple, you will not be good at everything and you have to know when to ask for help. I went in to this assuming I would do my own bookkeeping and although I could manage it, I absolutely never do. My Accountant can attest to this! Working as a commission-based Recruiter for 8 years prior to starting Bon Vivant, we constantly had goals to meet and they would always go up, which was challenging but also stressful. My old boss encouraged me to hire an Assistant that I would split commissions with and when I finally did, I started making more money than I ever had before. It's hard to justify paying someone else at times if you aren't seeing a profit, but you may never see a profit if you are spending all of your time and energy on tasks that you don't enjoy and aren't good at. Let someone else do that to free you up to do the things you are really good at, and then kick ass at them.
  5. CONSISTENTLY EDUCATE YOURSELF. For me, retail is an industry I was not experienced in and knew very little about. Flowers were also something I had zero experience in, but I knew that I wanted to offer fresh flower arrangements in our boxes. In general, there a lot of aspects to this business that I wanted/still want to get better at, so I buy books and research articles, blogs, anything I find interesting. I also take workshops and attend events where I think I will get to network with like-minded people. This is something that I factor in to my weekly schedule and monthly budget. Don't be afraid to invest in yourself so that you can be a better entrepreneur. You might not see immediate returns on this, but I promise you it all gets absorbed and benefits you and your business - sometimes when you least expect it. It's also extremely helpful and inspiring to meet other business owners and creatives!
  6. KNOW YOUR VALUE. I am a people-pleaser and hate to say no. I know I'm not alone in this boat, but I've realized that being confident in what value you're adding and what it's worth is probably the single most important thing you can do for your business. Learning to say no to opportunities that just don't make sense for your business allows you to focus more on the ones that do. This is why it's crucial to sit down and think about what your mission is, and what your business stands for. Any time I am on the fence about making a decision, I think about that and it becomes much more clear what I should do. And if I'm being honest, I still have a long way to go on this one but having one year under my belt really has taught me a lot and I feel myself getting more and more confident in this area every day. I could easily say that my target customer is anyone, because we all need gifts at some point or another. But I now know that in order to be effective, you have to truly know who your target customer is and narrow it down as specifically as you can. Then just be really consistent and good at engaging them and marketing to that audience. Know your value, know your standards, know what problem you're solving and know your target customer. If you're spending most of your efforts there you should find that people will see the value in what you're offering and are happy to pay for it.

Thank you so much for following along on this journey! I sincerely mean it when I say, please don't ever hesitate to reach out to me if you ever have feedback, questions, suggestions, or anything else you'd like to share. Your input is very important to me and I take it all in to consideration. I LOVE being able to help others in any way that I can so if you're a new business owner or an aspiring one, I'm always happy to chat and would love to hear from you. XOXO, Steely


MEET OUR MAKERS: Mason Hainey, Founder of MIZU Brand

Steely Dipuccio Anderson

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My obsession with MIZU Brand was immediate. I had been searching for the perfect luxury sleep masks, and I found them (and so much more!) with MIZU. I reached out to Mason to inquire about his sleep masks and it has been such a pleasure getting to work with him and feature his amazing work in our gift boxes. The detail and thoughtfulness that go in to everything he makes is so obvious in the finished pieces. The images are stunning but the actual products are even better than I imagined. What's more, Mason is such a joy to work with and takes just as much care in providing the best service and partnership as he does in making his products. When I think of what Bon Vivant stands for, I can't think of a better match than MIZU and I am thrilled to be able to feature his products and share more with you about Mason and how he got started. Might I add, just in time for Father's Day gift ideas. Enjoy!

When did you start your business and why?

Everything started with a bow tie. At 19, while attending art school in Maine, I was starving to find an interesting, well made bow tie ( these were very trendy, circa 2011 ). I remember searching everywhere- local stores, thrift stores department stores, malls, but all I would ever find was the standard, boring, stripe silk bow ties that were far too large for my already-rather-large head. It was on the bus ride home from searching at the mall that a friend from college says “why don’t you just make one?” And so I did. I went to the local Salvation Army on Adler St, picked up a few vintage floral dresses, cut and stitched some crudely made ties on the sewing machine my grandmother bought me for Christmas when I was 11.  I wore them everywhere, and people began to notice me ( or the ties, at least ). I began to get stopped on the street and asked where I bought my ties and where they could get them. So I took a chance, cleared the racks at salvation army and cut up a lot of old dresses to make a run of limited edition bow ties. I sold my goods at the local monthly-market ( “ First Friday”  ) alongside the other crafters and makers of Portland, Maine. And my designs sold really well. I continued to do these markets each month and would consistently sell out. 

It’s at this point that I knew I could do something with this and that MIZU brand was born. 

In short, I started my business out of a desire to fill a gap in the market, bringing affordable, contemporary, well crafted design to classic styles.  

Bomi Bow Tie

Bomi Bow Tie

What/who are your major influences?

I am inspired by the unknown. At the end of the day, I feel my best when I’ve spent time out of my element and have grown in some way. Whether that’s walking a new way home, cooking something different or traveling someplace abroad. I so easily fall into a consistent routine that I crave new-ness to rock my world a little. And that’s what I work so hard to bring to my brand. I source my materials from all over the world, importing vintage fabrics from Asia, sourcing essential oils that have been distilled from plants grown in there indigenous locations, finding a mix of vintage and new fabrics from stores in the US. Everything that I create tells a story of heritage and is mindfully designed to be inviting but also unfamiliar. The goal with every product is to inspire the consumer in some way. 

Do you have a favorite piece or product that you’ve done?

That’s like asking me to pick a favorite child. 

Perhaps my line of candles because it’s, in a way, a return to my roots. When I was younger, around 9 or 10, I started my very first business…  I think I called it Mason’s Gel Candles. With a team of loving investors ( my parents ) I made dozens of candles and sold them to every classmate, parent, teacher and relative that would look at me. 

Palo Santo Soy Candle

Palo Santo Soy Candle

What’s the best part of owning your own business?

Creating something from nothing and watching it grow and evolve. Having that absolute freedom to do what you want, when you want. Being able to convey to others what you think is new, fresh and inspiring; and then being able to watch how they react to it. Sometimes it’s a hit, others not so much. But above all, what I think I like most about being a small business owner is how soulful and crazy the journey is. It’s a journey that I get to bring YOU on, and that beats being stuck in an office where passion is questionable. 

What is a typical “work” day like for you?

Work days are every day. I’m up at 5, guzzle the blackest coffee you’ve ever seen and start with a list of manifestations and goals for the day; followed by a very thorough to-do list. Then I get to work! Usually emails / web-work, followed by packingorders and an AM post office drop-off in the morning. Lunch. More work, primarily production-based or more packing orders, followed by a PM Post Office-drop…or just a walk to clear my mind, which at this point is very full. Then it’s time to make dinner and Netflix & Chill for an hour, before ending my day with whatever’s left - quick emails, pressing, packing. etc.

What does the process of making a piece or product consist of?

Speaking broadly, it’s a 3-part process: Inspiration, Research + Development, production. 

Everything starts with some source of inspiration; a big fresh idea, a interesting place, a flavor, a memory.. anything that really speaks to the moment and is big enough to create an entire collection around. I’ll sit and sketch and plan out things preliminary, but this process is very much fluid and tends to evolve ( or completely change ) as I enter into R+D. 

When creating something completely new to my brand, I have a tendency to immediately jump into production, foregoing any research or plans. I like to get my hands dirty as soon as possible. 9 times of out 10, that first product is a flop, but a huge learning experience that better helps me understand the process before I step back an really do the research. 

R+D is the most time consuming( and EXPENSIVE ) aspect of creating something new. This is where all the juicy design details are laid out and perfected. It’s my favorite part of the process where I get to explore, experiment and learn as much as possible…butif I could draw you a graph of my emotions during this stage, it would probably look like a a very tight zig-zag that ends with an upward arc. It’s a crazy ride of ‘aha’-moments followed by failures, followed up success, followed by set backs, and it keeps going until I can really step back and confidently say I am happy and ready to present my new product to the world.

I am currently in the R+D phase of my new home collection, due out later this summer. It’s been a grueling ride.. without going into too much, i’ve spent the entirety of last week developing this one new scent ( of 7 ). It’s completely taken over my mind, giving me so many moments of grief, doubt and pure joy. It’s really like a blank puzzle and you’re trying to get all the right pieces to fit together.. but once you find the right fit all the grief becomes so worth it. 

Production is often very chill. Put on some classical or meditation music and just get to work. All of this leads to photography, photo edit, copy writing ( all done by me ! ) and finally, the launch.  Last year, my 4 collections each had a development time of about 8 months, from concept to market. To me, the launch of every collection literally feels like giving birth, in the best way.

What are your favorite ways to unwind when you aren’t working?

Lately, I’ve found solace in cooking. Cooking and baking have always been a passion of mine, but it’s kind of been on the back burner as I’ve been developing my business. I’ve recently become allergic to everything, so I’ve been having a lot of fun baking dairy-free, gluten-free, peanut-free things. I also love trying new flavors and dishes inspired from around the world. In my opinion, eating traditional dishes from different cultures is one of the best ways to get inspired….Even if you cant make it over the actual country, you can usually find ingredients to make a traditional meal.

To learn more about MIZU Brand, visit their website here.

Repurposing Our Keepsake Boxes

Steely Dipuccio Anderson

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When I started Bon Vivant, I knew that I wanted reusable wooden boxes with sliding lids to be the vessels for our gifts. Sure, there are many cardboard and woven options out there, but I figured if I am going to use so many of them, I want them to be repurposeful and useful (i.e. not something that you end up throwing in the trash but feel guilty for it). If you've received one (or hopefully more!) of our keepsake wooden gift boxes, you may have found yourself asking, "what am I going to do with this thing?" Chances are, you've come up with a way to use it for storage, but we wanted to share a few ideas and DIY projects to inspire those of you that are still searching for the perfect idea. 

Our mission is to provide the best quality brands+products in our gift boxes that strive to be eco-friendly and as ethical as possible. With that said, of course we want our wooden boxes to be put to good use - they are part of the gift, after all! Our signature box is about 12x12x6 inches, but we also have a larger and smaller version. They all come with sliding lids and are durable and essentially a blank canvas for creative DIY projects. The possibilities for repurposing the boxes are endless, but here are some of our favorite ways:


I mean, who doesn't love a good wall shelf? If you have more than one, you can arrange them off-centered to create artistic and functional shelving. Even if you only have one, pair it with some pieces of art and you'll add some 3-Dimensional design. We recommend painting the box whatever color makes you happy, and then nailing it to the wall, but you can also use the adhesive tape if you don't plan to put anything heavy on it. We love the look with some books, a framed photo and/or a potted succulent or air plant. This is also a beautiful idea for a baby room and you can even line the inside with a fun printed paper for extra pop.


Need a place to store recipe cards, baby pictures and memorabilia, greeting cards, the list goes on? The size and depth of our signature box is perfect for storing items like this. You can even insert smaller storage containers to create better organization. Slide the lid on and tuck away until you need it. Decorate the outside with paint or markers so that you know what is inside. One of our clients uses hers as a keepsake box for her little one, and she wrote the baby's name on the lid in calligraphy. How cute is that?!


We love using the boxes for storing and organizing arts & crafts. Again, you can add smaller storage containers inside, or just toss in all of your extra ribbon, markers or anything else that needs a home. The boxes stack beautifully and are super sturdy!


One of the more ambitious, but AWESOME, ideas is to use your box to create a succulent or herb garden. Go to your local nursery and purchase several different types of succulents (along with some extra soil). Next, you may want to paint the box, but totally not necessary! We recommend drilling a few holes in the bottom wall of the box for drainage. Add the soil and arrange the succulents however you like. 


There is absolutely nothing wrong with regifting your box! Think about using it as a vessel the next time you give a gift to someone. You can get really creative with it, or simply tie it up with ribbon and let the box itself be the star of the show. You can also use any of the ideas above and give them as gifts. 


Our gift boxes are great for storing bow ties, pocket squares, jewelry, gloves, scarves or anything else you can fit inside. Some of those accessories that we rarely use and can never find when we need them will always have a home and be ready for you!

I hope you found these tips and DIY projects useful for repurposing your Bon Vivant gift boxes. For more gifting ideas, follow us on social media @bonvivantgiftboxes. 

XOXO, Steely