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Wednesday, July 8

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Here at Calluna we are always looking for new ways to highlight and honor our amazing creative partners. We feel incredibly fortunate to work with some truly talented vendors in the industry, and we’re always thrilled to shine a spotlight on our beloved Colorado wedding community.

Since COVID-19 hit the wedding industry (and the world) with a sledgehammer and subsequently shaking up life as we know it, these small businesses had to pivot and adjust – quickly. With every new challenge a new opportunity is born. We’re elated to continue this our vendor spotlight series but with an intentional focus on the creative vendors who have so beautifully shown up in this new normal with inspiring new business ventures.

Today we’re chatting with our dear friends at COCObundle. Kelly and her team quickly and seamlessly launched their Celebrate With Impact registry, a way for people to register for gifts that go to those in need. We’re so excited to learn more about it and catch up with this incredible team!

Tell us about yourself and describe what you do! My background is in sustainable (green) interior and product design. I still usually have one or two design projects going at a time, but a couple of years ago I also founded COCObundle, a social enterprise that provides gifts of essential items for those in need! COCO’s signature gifts are home essentials (bedding, towels and kitchenware) for people who are moving out of homelessness, escaping domestic violence, or experiencing housing instability. We also give bundles of survival essentials (like socks and emergency blankets) to those currently experiencing homelessness. Everything is funded through our gift registry (where couples can register for gifts that go to those in need) and through special campaigns and events with our nonprofit partners across the country.

What is your idea of a dream project? Honestly, COCObundle is my dream project! I’ve had my own design practicesince I was 22 and although I truly love what I do, I was ready for a new challenge. A few years ago, I was volunteering for a nonprofit organization that helps people move out of difficult situations, I started to see what a huge discrepancy there is between how people give and what nonprofits need (and when). My designer brain immediately kicked in and I thought “there has to be an elegant solution to this problem!” A few months later, COCObundle was born. It was a dream project of my own making!

We know COVID-19 has impacted the wedding industry in 2020 significantly. Tell us about how COCObundle is pivoting in light of COVID-19? We soft-launched our gift registry about 4 months before COVID-19 rocked everyone’s world. We had some awesome beta couples (Calluna clients Shelby and Ben were our very first couple!) but right around the time we felt ready to start actively marketing the registry to engaged couples the wedding world got flipped on its head! Luckily, we were in a great position to take a pause. We were still in beta on the registry, so we used the time to make some changes and improvements, implementing what we’d learned from our early couples. Shelby and Ben were originally supposed to have been married in April, so their guests had already done a lot of shopping on their registry. This meant that the couple was able to make an immediate impact for people in need, even though their wedding had to be postponed. I thought that was pretty incredible! (This photo is me delivering Shelby and Ben’s bundles to the kids at Florence Comfort House, in my COVID gear).

What challenges have you had to overcome since COVID-19 changed the way your business operates? We had to make massive changes to our bundling and shipping protocol, but this turned out to be a blessing in disguise. This is a really boring story about logistics, so I’ll spare you the details—let’s just say that sometimes limitations open up your creative mind and help you realize that there is an even better way of doing things.

Tell us about your Celebrate With Impact registry service! I know I’m biased, but I think our Celebrate With Impact registry is amazing. There are so many people getting married or celebrating a special occasion who don’t want or need much for themselves—but guests want to buy gifts, it’s part of the joy of the celebration! So we created a way for people to register for gifts that go to those in need. It works just like a regular wedding registry but the imagery is really fun and playful and guests have a good time shopping it—the experience is a lot more tangible for guests than the old “in lieu of gifts please write a check to XYZ charity.” So couples pick out the gifts they think their guests will enjoy giving, and then decide where they want those gifts to go. We have a lot of couples who want their registry to make a local impact, and our network of nonprofit partners across the country makes that possible (they handle distribution for us!). To make sure our partners always have exactly what they need for the people they’re helping, we allow them to trade out gifts for credit (just like when a couple gets two toasters, so they return one and put the store credit toward a blender). This way, we never have to worry that someone moving out of homelessness gets too many forks and not enough towels.

How has your new venture impacted your customers/partners/vendors/etc.? COCObundle is just about to turn 2 years old, so we’re still very much a start-up. We’re pivoted several times to make sure that we’re constantly finding the best possible ways to give gifts of well-made home essentials to those in need. Adding the gift registry was a pretty clear “yes” for me, the moment I thought of it— and our nonprofit partners have been thrilled about it.

What companies (in the wedding industry or beyond!) are inspiring you right now? Why? We have a community of Celebrate With Impact pro partners. These are event pros who offer their clients a small gift or fee reduction as a thank you for registering with COCObundle, and making an impact on their big day. I’ve been so inspired by them as we’ve connected throughout COVID. I love how resilient they’ve all been. I ln the face of everything changing, they’ve embraced creativity and put together some of the most stunning, intimate events I’ve ever seen. One of my favorite partners is Shelley Elena Photography. Shelley is all about celebrating real humans and real human moments (and not treating weddings like magazine photo shoots because real life isn’t like that!). Some of the best moments from your wedding might be the least photogenic, but Shelley knows how important it is to capture them, and she manages to do it beautifully.

What are you most excited about in 2020/2021? Humans have an opportunity unlike any we’ve experienced in modern history. Because of COVID-19 and the BLM movement, we’re having both public and private conversations that are painful, scary, frustrating and cathartic—and this, I believe, is how real change begins to happen. I’m incredibly grateful to be living through this historic moment. And I’m grateful to be in a position to continue building upon my dream and vision of helping others.

Want in on this new service? Us too! To learn more about the Celebrate With Impact registry, please reach out to COCObundle.

Photos by COCObundle

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