Dallas college student launches bespoke gifting service to perk up pandemic pause
When the pandemic cut Annie Combs' senior year at TCU two months short, she didn't stay bored for long. She began assembling personal gift packages to send roommates as pick-me-ups. Pretty soon, a business was born.
Combs launched Perk concierge gifting service when she realized people were looking for easy presents to send to loved ones when in-person gathering and gifting was impossible due to COVID-19.
Sure, nothing's as easy as Amazon Prime. But nothing's too personal about it, either. Each gift from Perk is custom-made for the recipient and hand-delivered in person, without contact, Combs says. It's all about making recipients feel special.
"The name 'Perk' stands for multiple things," says Combs, a Highland Park native. "To perk someone up; to celebrate perks in life like graduations and engagements; and when you're making people happy, the focus of it is that 'perking them up' is the best part."
Combs — an Early Childhood Education major without prior business experience — started the concept the way many do these days: on Instagram. Once she launched her page in time for Mother's Day last spring, it took off.
"I got way more orders than I expected," she says. "That was really exciting."
Gift baskets can include items like the recipient's favorite bottle of wine or spirits paired with glasses, candies, and high-end candles from a local retailer like B’s Knees Fragrance Co. She can deliver fresh floral arrangements, too.
Now with attention turned to holiday presents, she's rolled out gift boxes that will be "dressed and ready" to be placed under the Christmas tree.
Combs works with each client on their budget and says gifts can range from about $40 to $400.
"Me being a 22-year-old, I know I don’t have a lot to spend," she says. "My clientele ranges just out of college to older women buying things for their businesses. The first thing I ask is, 'What's your price range?'"
She'll deliver all over Dallas-Fort Worth, but now that she lives in North Dallas, she has to add a small fee for delivery to Fort Worth, she says.
Combs tries to work with a lot of locally owned small businesses and will honor requests to purchase items from specific retailers. She can work with themes, too — just tell her you want "Dallas Cowboys," for example, and she'll come with an idea or two to present.
Her aim is to take the stress out of shopping for chic and thoughtful gifts during this difficult holiday season and beyond. "We offer local delivery and under-the-tree-ready wrapping so you can spend more time with your loved ones," she says.
Orders can be placed through Perk's Instagram page, by messaging @enjoytheperk.
Combs is also hosting an in-person holiday shop from 11 am-5 pm Saturday, December 5 at 7606 Morton St., Dallas. Those who can't be there in person can virtually shop by visiting Perk's Instagram story, “Holiday Shop,” and sending a message to order. All items will be wrapped and available for pick-up.