BEHIND THE BIZ :: Sweet July
Meet local gifting guru Angi McLaurin of Sweet July
There’s something pretty special about receiving a stunningly, curated Sweet July gift box. And something even more special about taking the time to gift one to someone, right?
The art of giving is something Angi McLaurin is super passionate about. From her farm in High Range, Angi creates beautiful gift boxes that are not only stunningly gorgeous, super practical and luxurious, but also create quite an emotional connection and memory.
She has a super unique take on gift giving, thanks to her European heritage and has done a lot of research on the science behind giving gifts (hello endorphins!). We caught up with Angi at her farm in High Range to find out more about this beautiful, local business.
1 // First of all, how did Sweet July start?
When I was a child growing up in Germany, my family and friends put so much thought into giving gifts. It’s part of the culture there. I would save every cent I had to buy thoughtful gifts for everyone. There is so much more joy in giving.
When I moved to Australia, I noticed gift giving was a little more transactional here. I wanted to introduce a beautiful tradition from the 18th century that happens in July in Germany. Before children start the school year – in Germany, the school year starts in August – families fill up a cone with sweets, gifts, school supplies, something special to celebrate the child going back to school. Grandparents and extended family get involved, and it’s a very special thing. That’s where the name of the business comes from – Sweet July.
But, of course, that would have only been for one month of the year, which isn’t a great business model! So I focused on creating meaningful artisan-style gift boxes for all sorts of occasions - corporate events, client appreciation, wedding gifts, wedding welcome gifts and personal gift boxes for loved ones.
2 // Tell us a little more about your childhood in Germany and how that has impacted your philosophy around life and business?
I had a tough upbringing growing up in a ghetto in West Berlin. There wasn’t a lot of money or food or toys. It was tough for my mother and she struggled but there was an element of her that was so kind. She would say to me, “If you see another child without food, share your food with your friend. We know we can make our food stretch, but we don’t know if your friend’s family can.”
That was like a seed planting inside me and practising kindness in everything I do – in life, business, anywhere I can – is very important to me. Gifting, sharing and giving is so closely connected. I’ve created a business where those values are reflected in the products we create, and the reason people are gifting in the first place.
3 // Your gift boxes are curated and presented so beautifully. Why is presentation and wrapping so important?
There’s two things at play here.
First of all, the impact of packaging on the environment. How many hampers do you see with layers of plastic that can’t be re-used or recycled? It breaks my heart. If you have an ethical business that lives and breathes sustainability and want to positively impact the environment, then keep those values consistent with the packaging or selection of your corporate gifts.
At Sweet July, all the packaging is re-usable or recyclable. I use a Japanese wrapping technique called Furoshiki – it’s when gifts are wrapped in cloth, whether it’s a scarf, linen, muslin cloth, whatever it may be. I also pop in a forever flower (I get them from Fleur Sisters – two sisters in Mittagong) which once again can be re-used or kept.
And the second thing? It’s simple. When you create an experience, you create a positive memory, and that’s what Sweet July gift boxes do.
4 // How long have you been in the Highlands?
We bought this farm in High Range nearly ten years ago. It originally belonged to Miss Badgery, quite a famous local, pioneering woman – her story is amazing.
Anyway, my husband and his brother renovated the cottage – it was so tiny! Only 25 sqm. We would come here for weekends and then I found myself wanting to spend more time here. We had two young children and decided to make the move permanently five years ago.
5 // What do you love about living and working in the Southern Highlands?
Oh, there’s lots of reasons. Firstly, I love the weather. Coming from Europe, I do miss the colder weather, but the Highlands gives me enough chilly days, snow and winter to help me not get too homesick. I also love how many creative and talented people I’ve met since we moved here. The Highlands seems to be a bit of a mecca for creative people with amazing stories and backgrounds.
And of course, I love the vineyards, restaurants and cafes. Such high quality and beautiful experiences to be had in the Southern Highlands.
Sweet July is a luxurious, full-service artisan gift box online boutique based in the Southern Highlands. Angi celebrates the joy of giving with pre-curated gift boxes and a custom gift design service for corporate events, client appreciation, employee gifts, wedding welcome gifts, bridal parties and life’s special occasions. They really are quite beautiful and thoughtful. Find out more here.
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