The Papaya Exchange: Gifting with Intention

With the Christmas season upon us, we wanted to officially welcome our new neighbor to the Pineapple Patio and introduce you to the business!

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Janean Abbott started out working as a school nurse for a year and spent her summer break doing web design work for clients. By the time a new school year came around the corner, she realized that she could make more money from web design and working from home so she transitioned into a new career.

For the next few years, Janean put her energy into building a business offering her services as a virtual administrator for small companies. She eventually began creating gifts for her husband’s clients on the side and then for her virtual administrative clients for fun about four years ago. “Every year my husband wanted to send gifts to his clients so he would find promotional items online. I would help him and each year I would put a little bit more thought into it and instead of getting one item, I would beginning curating different things,” the business owner shared. It was doing this experience that she became inspired to support local businesses when picking out items for the gifts.

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About two years ago, Janean debated about going full-time with her gifting hobby but decided to sit on it and watch how it trended on the mainland. It didn’t quite pick up here so I was just waiting and seeing when a good time would be.” Finally, The Papaya Exchange started as a full-time business in July 2016 and launched its first official product online in November 2016. All of the skills that she learned from her virtual administrative business helped her in designing all the custom packaging and the logo designs for her new gifting shop. “It’s one thing to put all these gifts into a nice box but when it’s customized and personalized, it’s so much more fun!” Since then the official launch of the business, Janean has encountered various people who see the gift packages she would make and ask about her services.

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“The way that I launched our gift shop was by taking holiday pre-orders so from November to the first week of December, people could order online. I didn’t have to buy all the inventory upfront because I didn’t know how many orders we would get. We were just starting,” Janean explained. Only having one product in the beginning, The Papaya Exchange slowly grew to now having an array of products from local businesses around the island. Some of the most popular products the gifting shop carries include honey, candles, coasters, sea salts and tea towels. “But as a small business there is only so much inventory that I can carry so I try to keep some foundational products that we carry year-round and then three to four times a year try to bring one or two products in.” When it comes to looking for new products to add into the mix, Janean shares that she constantly searches for different hashtags on Instagram, following as many local businesses as she can, attending different markets and keeping an eye out for what’s on the market.

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Each time people request for client gifts, Janean goes through a process of sitting down with the business and ask them questions of what they look for in the package, what they want their customers to feel when they open the box and questions of that nature. “We let the products be a part of the story rather than just picking a few fun products to put into a package.” She does the same with individual gifts, asking the people who they plan to give the gift to, information about the person and what they want the gift to communicate to the recipient. When it comes to gifting with intention, Janean compares it to slow cooking. “You’re not in a rush. It’s a process instead of just checking a person off of a list. It’s about the relationship you have with them and being thoughtful about the person you’re gifting and how are you giving back to the local community. We’re like a broker between the two.”

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While The Papaya Exchange continues to grow, Janean stated, “we want to continue to grow with our client gift so working with other local businesses to help with their gifting needs. We are in the process of also networking with local hotels.” In the meantime, she continues to express her appreciation for having a working space at the Pineapple Patio. “I like that it’s a hybrid space so it’s not full retail but it’s also not just office space. It provides a good balance for me personally to have that space where I can create and invite other people into but can also step away from everything or just close the doors and go home.”

For more about The Papaya Exchange and their gifting services, check out their website at:

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