- Founder and CEO, Wet Paint Group
- Masters in counseling psychology/counselor education, University of Colorado at Denver
- 2022 Smart Women in Meetings Industry Leader winner
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is more important than ever as tourism spikes after the recent years of travel decline. If there is ever a time to dedicate money, time and energy to giving back and supporting each other—meeting professionals, corporate leaders, attendees and communities alike—it is the year 2023.
Why the corporate gifting industry?
My husband, Doug and I started in 2016 as a corporate gifting company. Really, the impetus behind why we went into corporate gifting was that we felt a need for something different. We would go to events, meetings, conferences and the swag would be left in the trash or in the hotel room and that’s not sustainable.
One of the tenants of Wet Paint Group is to create gifting with impact and fill the needs of our clients by creating a lifespan of the product for after the event. There is an affiliation with a non-profit or some sort of charitable giveback with all our gifts.
Read More: Out of This World Gifting
Often there may not be time allowed to do an onsite CSR activity, so this is another beautiful way to accompany an event with a giveback so everyone can understand that when they are picking out their gift, they are part of something greater.
Where do you find inspiration for your gifts?
I go to the gift shows. Instead of the more promotional products, I go to the markets in New York, Atlanta and Dallas to find really creative gift ideas. We choose gifts that are ethically sourced and benefit the community. We’re not just a line item on a budget for an event. When we get an opportunity to bid on a program, to be a gifting resource for our clients, it’s a gift for us to be able to source creative, unique ideas and to share the story behind each and every one of them.
One example is beautiful candles made by a woman in Arizona. Talk about sustainability, she would run through restaurants and bars in Arizona where recycling isn’t required and grab beautiful bottles of tequila and make them into candles. She was able to quit her job because she’s been so successful. We just did a candle bar in June with an insurance client and they sold off the shelves. We had to order more.
“[Gifting] is another beautiful way to accompany an event with a giveback so everyone can understand that when they are picking out their gift, they are part of something greater.”
Another one of our vendors we work with makes beautiful jewelry and donates proceeds to Dress for Success. We took our whole team to Denver Dress for Success fashion show where the models were wearing jewelry and bags from our vendors. It was pretty remarkable to go to this fashion show and rejoice in the fact that our organization raised over $50,000 for Dress for Success Denver.
What trends are you seeing in corporate gifting?
Onsite and virtual marketplaces that feature a robust variety of brands and gifting categories are very popular right now.
Read More: New Year’s Resolution: CSR
Requests highlighting sustainability causes, increased interest in minority-owned businesses, as well as continuing emphasis on “gifts that give back” to a community or a cause, are more and more frequent.
How do you stay true to your values?
How we started this conversation is to live our values out loud. To do good. To do the right thing. Our staff, inside and out, whether it’s our clients or our staff here, we all believe in that and we all walk that talk. Wet Pain Group has six core values:
- Do the right thing.
- Respond with openness.
- Have a “hell yeah” attitude.
- Be remarkable.
- Embrace radical accountability. “We’re better people when we can—and I love the word radical—when we can radically accept and hold ourselves accountable for not only who we are in the office but also in our personal lives.”
- Again—do the right thing and be humbly confident.
I’m really proud of this team. I’m really proud of the way we’ve taught our clients about how to show up at events and given them the opportunity to feel good about the gifting.
This article appears in the January/February 2023 issue. You can subscribe to the magazine here.