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SMU grad launches on-demand gifting app in Dallas with perk to rival Amazon

SMU grad launches gifting app in Dallas with perk to rival Amazon

Sarah-Allen Preston
Sarah-Allen Preston, founder of Afloat. Photo courtesy of Afloat
Afloat app
No more excuses for tardy birthday presents. Photo courtesy of Afloat
Sarah-Allen Preston
Afloat app

A new on-demand gifting app called Afloat will make buying and delivering presents from Dallas' top boutiques as easy as ordering an Uber and faster and more rewarding than an Amazon spree.

Launching February 1, the app is the creation of Sarah-Allen Preston, a Southern Methodist University graduate. She wants to make it easy for users to send gifts from local retailers — i.e., Madison, The Gem, and Saint Bernard — with same-day or next-day delivery. 

“At your fingertips, you can give gifts, support local businesses, and reinforce relationships,” Preston says in a release. “Afloat uses technology to make these things easy and enjoyable, ensuring everyone reaps the real-life reward of doing good while feeling good.”

Users simply download the app, shop a list of gifts from Dallas-area stores, and send them directly to a recipient. The gifts are then prepared, wrapped, and delivered on the same or next day. (There's a $15 delivery fee.) Easy peasy, and no dealing with dreaded "shipment delayed" emails from the giant online marketplaces.

The app is launching with merchandise from a variety of stores, including housewarming gifts from Forget Me Not; family gifts from JoJo Mommy; and flowers from Pointers Petals. Other shops that have already signed on include Madre, Boxed Bites, Casamia, Holly Harris Designs, KidBiz/The Biz, Shop KSW, Liz and Honey, Madison McKinley, Marybeth, Sur la Vague, Miracle Milkookies, Mr. Big Books, and Sugar Boardz.

New products and stores are being added every week, they say.

Preston, a professional event planner in her 30s, says she got the idea for the app during two life-changing events: her divorce and her son's open-heart surgery. 

Because she'd always loved to celebrate relationships, holidays, events, and milestones, she says, she wanted a way to express her gratitude personally for an outpouring of love she'd gotten from family and friends.

Afloat, she says, allows people to quickly and conveniently send gifts to friends and family for any occasion (no matter how difficult) while also supporting local brick-and-mortar stores. 

"I realized that there was no platform that existed to help me support those going through hard times like I had AND celebrate the happy ones, too," she says. "So, I created it. And, gifting became afloat’s love language."

Preston, who splits her time between Dallas and Kansas City, Missouri, soft-launched Afloat in Kansas City in December, and an official app will launch there, along with the Dallas app, in February.

As a special gift at launch time, they're offering free delivery. To follow along, visit or on Instagram, @afloatlife.