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Meet the GIFT SHOP Advisory Board

Liz Barrere, VP Marketing & Product Development
Illume/Starlume

Liz Barrere is vice-president of marketing and product development for ILLUME and Starlume, an artisian candle manufacturer. Liz was previously at Marshall Field’s Department Stores, where she directed product development for their private home brands. In addition, she has held various positions within Target Corporation. Liz is responsible for branding, marketing, and product development for both companies.

The ILLUME brand is sold at wholesale through authorized sales representatives to over 3,000 boutiques and department stores nationwide.

Michael Brielmann, CEO
The Gift Giant, Ltd.

Mr. Brielmann founded GiftGiant.com in 1996. His vision of building a highly profitable and well-branded gift giving service has come to fruition with the shared contributions from his executive team. By employing a business model that joins the end consumer with the origin of the products that they buy, GiftGiant.com delivers superior quality giftware at the right price.

Mr. Brielmann has a breadth of experience in the gift business. Most recently, he worked as the Vice President of Panel Trim, Inc., a wholesale gift company that specializes in personalized gifts. Under his leadership, giftware sales increased 485% to nearly $4 million in less than five years. He shepherded the company through key acquisitions, divestitures, and mergers.

He earned his Bachelor’s degree from the University at Albany, where he double majored in Business (cum laude) and English (summa cum laude). One of six to earn the distinction of University Honors Scholar, Mr. Brielmann was also awarded the University’s Governance Award for his work as Comptroller of the student body’s $1.7 million budget. He was admitted to St. John’s Law School in 1994 and worked as an intern for the New York State Attorney General.

AJ Chada, President
Spa at Home

Spa at Home has an elegant collection of Candles, Bath products and Gift Sets to create your own Spa at Home.

Joni Compton, Advertising Coordinator
Nashville Wraps

Nashville Wraps® is a creative design and distribution company specializing in providing businesses with decorative gift and gourmet packaging products as well as related retail packaging products for resale and store use since 1976. 

Nashville Wraps® offers a very large selection of bags and bows, boxes, tissue, ribbons, cellophane, gift wrap and more for resale and store use.

Dan Folkmanis, Tradeshow Coordinator
Folkmanis

Headquartered in Emeryville, California, today Folkmanis, Inc. has grown to become the premier manufacturer of plush puppets worldwide.  Folkmanis® offers over 200 of the most heartwarming and realistically designed creatures—both exotic and familiar—on the market today. 

Folkmanis® toys are carried nationally by FAO Schwarz, science/nature museums, zoo and aquarium gift shops, and thousands of independent toy and gift stores and specialty retailers nationwide and in Canada, Europe, Australia, Japan and many other countries around the world.

Natalie Hammer, VP of Sales & Marketing
Blossom Bucket, Inc.

Blossom Bucket, Inc.is a gift and home decor wholesaler servicing retailers across the US and over seas.

Patti Harbin, Owner
In-Courage
San Antonio, TX

Charlene Horner, Director of Sales
Manual Woodworkers and Weavers

Chris Jaeger, President
Buyer At Large

Chris Jaeger is President of Buyer at Large, a buying office that helps independent retailers find top selling award winning product for their stores. Chris has over 15 years buying experience in the retail industry and was previously at Target Corporation, where she managed several brands for Target’s catalog and web division. In addition, she has been a consultant for several independent specialty retailers including Collectables Direct, Historic Sales, and Museum Store Company.

Ken Kline, CEO
Victorian Heart Co.

Bob Krulik, VP & GM
Root

Root Candles are sold in fine gift and specialty shops across the country.

Founded in 1869, The A.I. Root Company produces perhaps the finest candle line in the industry. Candles.net has been proud to feature Root Candles for over 29 years.

Elisabeth Lang, Co-Owner
Alexa’s Angels

Alexa’s Angels was founded in 1995, after the loss of a beloved husband and father. Through their unique products, they seek to encourage others with messages of hope, comfort and inspirations. All of their jewelry items are gift packaged and accompanied with original writings.

Craig Leaf, VP Marketing & Product Development
Amscan

Founded in 1947, Amscan, Inc. is the largest designer, manufacturer and distributor of decorated party goods and party accessories in the world. Their company is also a leading supplier of home décor, gifts and tabletop product as well as a primary source for gift wrap, gift bags, stationery and licensed product.

Nancy Michael, Senior Director of Marketing
MMPI

Susan Noyes, Manager
Shops at South Shore Hospital

Trip van Roden, President
Wellspring

Wellspring began in 1980 when Joanne van Roden wrote her first cookbook, Favorite Seafood Recipes. With her husband, Al, she loaded their station wagon with books and hit the road, calling on gift shops up and down the east coast. The original “warehouse” was a small barn on the van Roden’s farm in Pennsylvania. When there was an order to ship, Joanne would put a red potted geranium in the barn window to signal the delivery truck to stop and pick up.

Wellspring has expanded to create on trend gifts and stationery products that bring art and organization to every day life. Products include Pencil Pads®, Auto Notes™, Flip Notes, Wiggle Pens™, note cards, note pads, and recipe books.

Renee Solczak, VP of Sales
Midwest

Renee Solczak has more than 25 years of retail and wholesale sales and management experience in the giftware and home decor industry.

Midwest is home of the Seasons of Cannon Falls and Colonial Candle brands. They offer more than 5,000 different designs, in a wide range of styles to satisfy many different tastes.

Lori Minden Tancer, President
Lori Minden & Associates

Lori Minden Tancer is President of Lori Minden & Associates a manufacturers’ rep group based in San Francisco, CA. Lori Minden is currently serving on the GHTA Branding Action Committee.

Ted Teele, CEO
OneCoast

Ted Teele is the chief executive officer of OneCoast, the largest independent sales representative agency in the gift, home accessories, and collegiate products industries. Since becoming CEO in mid-2002, Ted has implemented a comprehensive “improvement” strategy to maximize the professionalism and effectiveness of the sales team. This strategy includes a rigorous hiring process for new sales team members, a comprehensive training program called “OneCoast University”, a territory management process, and programs to maximize the performance and “accountability” of the sales team. In 2005, OneCoast also implemented a telesales organization to increase territory coverage.

Prior to OneCoast, Ted held a number of executive and sales management roles with various high growth companies. For example, Ted was the president and chief operating officer at ServiceWare, Inc, a software company (now merged into Knova). During his tenure at ServiceWare, the company was named as one of Inc. Magazine’s 500 fastest growing private companies two years in a row. Ted earned a B.A. and M.B.A. with honors from Harvard University.

Angel Brown Touwsma, Limetree Gifts

George White, President & COO
Up With Paper

Up With Paper is best known for its innovative, three-dimensional greeting cards, which have been “wowing” senders and recipients alike for more than 25 years with intricate designs, premium artwork, and unexpected pop-ups. The company’s greeting cards, available for all seasons and sending occasions, may be purchased in thousands of specialty retail outlets throughout the United States, Canada, and worldwide.

Up With Paper began in 1977 as PopShots, Inc., which was one of the first companies to turn paper engineering into a miniature art form. Beginning with just six original designs, the company developed pop-up greeting cards so ingenious and inventive that they grabbed the attention of greeting card fans around the world. Ever since, the company has been raising the expectations of consumers and retailers alike, for intricate designs, unique techniques, and for the magic that makes each card a collectible. The company has been recognized for developing some of the most outstanding greeting cards, winning more than 45 of the International Greeting Card Association’s coveted LOUIE Awards honoring design excellence, including the 2004 “Card of the Year” award for a card from the company’s Tres Panache line.


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