Boxing an idea: how Erika Dolan started a personalized gift box business to give back


One of Boxy’s gift boxes (PHOTO: PROVIDED)

At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Erika Dolan decided to start her own business, square – a custom, prefabricated gift box business focused on supporting local businesses and charities. But before Boxy, she had to first discover her place in the world.

Growing up in Mexico City, Dolan says there was a lot of social pressure to enter a professional field like medicine or engineering. But when she arrived in Canada, she felt the opportunities were endless, which led to a creative career that she adores.

In 2018, Dolan attended Bow Valley College and earned her Hospital Unit Clerk certificate, where she hoped to work in the health field to help people.

After completing her program, she couldn’t find a job in the industry, but the COVID-19 pandemic changed everything. Dolan felt the impact of the pandemic on the community and wanted to help local businesses.

“I kept hearing on the news that there were so many businesses closing that I felt so bad,” she says. “I wanted to buy everything from everyone so they didn’t have to shut down.”

Dolan’s sympathy for local businesses was well founded. In a recent study by Statistics Canada, it reports that nearly 40 percent of businesses in Alberta will be forced to “consider staffing, closure or bankruptcy” within 12 months, if they “continue to operate on income and expenses. current ”.

In May 2020, what started out as a simple idea for a gift basket business quickly turned into square, a company that creates unique gift sets for occasions like birthdays, holidays, recovery, sympathy and more.

It’s no surprise to close friend Laurie Fales that Dolan has decided to start her own business. Fales says Boxy aligns with Dolan’s moral character.

“She had a very difficult time […] and she turned it into something positive.

But starting your own business was not without its challenges.

She received reviews based on the colorful and youthful nature of her gift sets. But instead of changing her brightly colored gifts, she realized it was a unique style that she wanted to keep.

“There are other gift box companies out there and they look so serious,” she says. “I just wanted to make them fun!”

Dolan is also true to this philosophy in trying to create products that have a distinct personality just like her ‘Love package‘ box. This box includes a personalized scented candle titled “You Are My Favorite Person” and a jar of “Wild Rose Bath Soak” – all delicately placed in a pastel pink box lined with crumpled tissue paper.

“It is her passion to create beauty, comfort and joy for those for whom she creates it,” says Fales.

“I think we all need a little help and I want to inspire other companies to do the same.”

Erika Dolan

Starting a Calgary-based business was not Dolan’s original plan, but neither lived in Canada. Dolan first visited the country at the age of 19.

Her original plan was to visit Canada for six months, but when she started visiting the country, she realized she wanted to stay and eventually found a nanny job in Vancouver.

“There is so much freedom here, you can do so much,” she says. “I feel that in Canada I can be who I really am. ”

After living in Vancouver for a few years, Dolan became eligible to apply for Canadian citizenship. Although her love for the country was strong, she took the time to seriously think about what citizenship meant to her.

Dolan remembers his friends saying, “You’re crazy! You can apply for your citizenship and you are not, just because you want to make sure? ”

“I waited until I felt in my heart that this was the country I wanted to serve,” she says. As soon as she decided that this was the country she wanted to live in, she became a citizen.

After living nearly a decade in Vancouver and a short time in Edmonton, Dolan finally married and moved to Calgary. Four years later, she launched Boxy.

Dolan does most of the company’s marketing herself, including managing the social media pages and taking photos. Currently, she has just over 1,100 followers on Instagram.

So far, Boxy only has a few reviews on Google. But currently, the company has an overall five-star rating, with reviews mentioning Dolan’s personal sincerity and the overall quality of the gift sets.

In addition to Dolan’s creative passion, one of his main goals with Boxy is to give back to the community. She buys most of her products from local retailers and makes a few items at home.

Each month, Dolan prioritizes donations to a local charity. Sometimes she makes a financial donation or offers gift baskets that can be used for fundraisers. Currently, she plans to donate roses and bring them to women staying in a shelter.

Fales says Dolan has always been passionate about helping people and giving back to the community.

“She is deeply empathetic and compassionate towards those in need,” says Fales.

Dolan also thinks it’s important to help those around her by sharing what she’s received.

She hopes to shift people’s perspective from the idea of ​​a profit culture that prioritizes financial gain to that of generosity.

“I think we all need a little help and I want to inspire other companies to do the same.”

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