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Interview with Mary Beth Johnson by KC Moore

June 30, 2010

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Finding that perfect one-of-a-kind gift is what is all about. is an on-line gift store launched this past February from the bucolic town of Newcastle, CA.  Mary Beth Johnson is the owner-operator and daily social media connection to the world.  

Client interaction is at the heart of her mission and the arts of Northern California fuel her passion.  Asked how the brainstorm originated, she replies with a painful memory of the economic downturn we have all felt.  She found herself disillusioned with the real estate market and watched at close vantage the heartbreak of her clients.  Since client relationship is so important to her, it was too difficult to watch the struggle, the business lost and the families devastated.  She resolved to put herself into a totally positive world of work, one that provided excitement, gratification and fun.

Coming from a musical family gave her an awareness and appreciation for the arts.  Her father is a published organist, her mother played the viola, and each of the 5 siblings played 1-2 instruments. She has lived in the Northern California area for over 20 years and has remarked numerous times of the fabulous diversity and talent of the local artists.  She also admits to having a long held fascination with quirky, custom items…the unique, one-of-a-kind, original items she always sought out for her own gifting.

All of the above were ingredients in this fantastic business she has created.  Regarding the vision….it is to feature the fabulous art saturating the Northern California countryside.  After experiencing so much talent in nooks and finding quirky, wonderful people, she now wants to get the word out for everyone to enjoy this.

She remarks how people set up shop and are gone in 6 months.  She is truly passionate and plans to make a success of it.  “This is a long-term commitment to both the public and the artists”. premiered in February of this year.  Mary Beth describes the experience as an “exciting, scary, pinch me-I can’t believe” emotional whirlwind.  This is an effort that has had lots of input.  Tracy Anderson was instrumental in bringing this phenomenon to the public.  She and Mary Beth put their heads together, worked with artists and creative types, and solicited feedback from friends and family to form the business model and signature style.  That coupled with good instincts and an eye for talent has produced a winning formula.  Mary Beth comments that she looks for good people and she infects everything she does with her funky sense of humor.  While no longer active, she has left her imprint.

The organization is built upon solid people skills.  There is a small core of people, but Mary Beth handles the daily social network outreach.  She says she’s “Lovin’ it!”  Asked how long the process took from the point of decision to launch, she replied 8-9 months.  They had no idea of what response they would get from artists.  They traveled to art fairs, galleries, and shows to find unusual, high quality items.  The response was overwhelming.  She heard “It’s about time someone really fell in love with what we do!”  Some of her artists already have a web presence but the majority of them do not.  Her ultimate goal is to pull the art world together and promote everyone.

Mary Beth anticipates that customers will be searching for something specific and trip onto something else unexpected on their gift site.  They are in the vanguard wave of the new social media marketing world.  “We are building the business using the power of social networking”, she notes. This includes a daily outreach via Twitter, Facebook, a regular blog and newsletter.  It includes telling everyone, every day, in every way.  Plus, they are constantly on the watch for the next wonderful artisan. 

“We are a team really. I am the focal point. I promote artists but we are about promoting each other as well,” Mary Beth states.  She constantly solicits suggestions, encourages everyone to share links and enlists everybody to help.  She admits it has been a fluid business, changing directions based upon experience.  What you think before you ‘do’ is not necessarily the best way to proceed; therefore there have been a few adjustments to the initial plan.  One thing that has not changed is their commitment to the artist and to the customer; that she states, is unwavering. promotes each artist on their site.  They are given a spotlight in the newsletter which they encourage the artist to forward on to others.  This is a team effort where each artist is involved in their own promotion.  A recent comment by one customer says, “I love the gifts, love the website, one of a kind, very appealing.”

What is the giftsEclectic experience?  The recipient opens a ‘a gift within a gift’.   Whatever the choice, the gift is often beautifully presented in their signature colors of brown and blue and carefully packaged in pristine materials with accents such as light blue ribbon and an embossed label.  Depending upon the item, it may also be wrapped in a delicate gauze baggy or classy box. 

The commitment to you….they have personally met with each artist and examined every item for sale on their site.  Their mission is to provide their customers with gift ideas to help you find that perfect gift.  Find them easily at

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