GOLD COAST — Having a hard time finding a personalized gift with local flair? Curate Chicago could be your answer.
Curate Chicago, a Gold Coast-based online gifting site, selects items, some of which are Chicago-themed, based on the occasion and recipient. The boxes range between $65 and $155, prices that were chosen to make gifting affordable for different occasions, co-owner Christina Oropeza said.
After graduating with a degree in Art History and Economics from the University of Michigan, Oropeza worked in merchandising at Bloomingdale's and Paper Source, which fueled her desire to become a buyer.
“That’s when it set inside me that I want to create my own business, be able to create a brand, and be able to choose all the items myself,” Oropeza said.
Curate Chicago got its start in corporate gifting, but launched its consumer gifting site in September so that general consumers could choose boxes of useful, modern gift items without having to shop around, Oropeza said.
The company recently added a build-a-box feature that allows users to choose items themselves, too.
“We wanted the brand to be very modern, because we think of Chicago — the architecture and everything that the city stands for — as just very streamlined and very modern, so we wanted that to be captured in our boxes.”
Oropeza said she handles the creative aspect of the company while her husband/co-founder Marco, who holds an M.B.A. from the Kellogg School of Management and also works in consulting, primarily runs the business side. Though working with her spouse of 2½ years can present some challenges, the couple has managed to find a balance, she said.
Their ultimate goal is to have a brick-and-mortar shop where customers can either build their own boxes or get assistance from staff curators, she said.
“Just like an art curator places different paintings next to each other to create a meaning, in gifting we’re bringing together all these different gifts in order to create a feeling and to make the occasion more special,” Oropeza said.
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