Boxed Expressions is a local small business that offers pop-up culinary and crafted curated gifting experiences. Chef Jessica is the owner, operator, creative director, and buyer for Boxed Expressions. She attended Florida A&M University for her undergraduate degree and Kendall College Culinary School, where she received her culinary training. For over ten years, Chef Jessica specialized in creating custom cakes and cupcakes. After her son was born, Jessica quickly realized she did not want to miss any special moments with him, so she decided to take a break from the baking industry.
Her prayer was to find a new career path with a flexible schedule aligned with her passion for food and culinary experiences.
How did the idea of Boxed Expressions come about?
Chef Jessica: My “Ah-Ha” moment came while running around to several stores looking for multiple culinary gifts to include as a present for a special friend. The gift idea consisted of one large box filled with unique culinary products. At that moment, I decided to start curating unique gift boxes for family and friends.
How big is your team?
Chef Jessica: The current team consists of Chef Brian, Pose Pic Photography, and me. As the Sourcer and curator of Boxed Expressions, I am always looking for unique culinary products for the gift boxes. Chef Brian is responsible for research and development. He focuses on creating recipes for in-person (pre-COVID) and virtual cooking classes where the guest can utilize the products offered by Boxed Expressions. Pose Pic Photography takes the pictures at the cooking events and the product photos.
How do you decide what items to offer in the box?
Chef Jessica: While souring products for the boxes, my goal is to find unique culinary products from small businesses in the Chicagoland area. When orders are not being curated, you will probably find me grocery shopping for new recipes or sourcing individual products for the curated gift boxes.
What made you decide to offer the Pop-up Culinary Experiences?
Chef Jessica: During the inception of Boxed Expressions, we noticed orders for the curated gift boxes were just trickling in. We quickly pivoted to add the themed pop-up culinary experiences. These cooking classes allow Chef Brian and me to showcase our culinary knowledge and skills. The cooking demos are a great way to get in front of people and personally interact with them. The products used in the class are available in the gift boxes, so the guests could sample the products and learn how to use them firsthand.
What sets you apart from your competition?
Chef Jessica: Boxed Expressions is a part of a niche market. There are several gift boxings services but not a lot of curated culinary boxes. Boxed Expressions also provide the customers with an option to create their own customized gift box and get FREE shipping and handling! We have received several requests to add other items, but I learned early to stand firm on my product offerings. Boxed Expressions is built around my passion for food and my culinary skills, which I have become known for over the years.
Have you noticed any changes to your business because of the global pandemic?
Chef Jessica: The global pandemic has helped Boxed Expressions. Before the COVID-19 virus, we had one-off clients. Since the pandemic started, we have more corporate clients and repeat customers. The various corporate organizations are buying appreciation gifts and awarding employees for a job well done. We have also noticed more orders for “thinking of you” boxes for people to send to their family and friends. We hope this momentum of gift-giving continues into the year 2021 and beyond.
Have you had to pivot/any new offerings?
Chef Jessica: Boxed Expressions plans to extend its membership program into 2021. The membership includes the ability to contribute funds to your account for upcoming gift purchases from Boxed Expressions. That way, you have money set aside for upcoming birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, and any other special occasion.
Best advice you have received during your journey in entrepreneurship?
Chef Jessica: Some of the best advice I have received includes you cannot please everyone. My goal is to be consistent and offer the absolute best experiences. This helps Boxed Expressions stay focused on branding and scaling the business. I also learned it’s ok to say “No” when opportunities do not align with the core values of Boxed Expressions.
The second piece of advice is about building relationships. Revenue is essential for any business, but I realize building relationships is vital. It is crucial to foster relationships by adding a “human” element back into the business.
Check out Boxed Expressions. They offer a wide range of beautifully crafted CURATED CULINARY GIFT BOXES, which are the perfect gift idea for people who love food, gift-giving, and unique culinary products. Some of the products include luxury wine glasses, cocktail kits, whisky infused popcorn, and flavorful spice blends. Be sure to follow Chef Jessica and her Boxed Expressions team on all social media platforms @boxedexpressions and www.boxedexpressions.com.