Artist and entrepreneur launches artful gift-giving platform
Downtown Arlington is fast-becoming the incubator-of-choice for a myriad of start-ups, small businesses and entrepreneurs. One of the newest members of this vibrant ecosystem blends the convenience of technology, the talent of artists and makers, and the joy of finding -- and giving -- a perfect gift for someone special.
An Idea Is Born
Calling Adrienne Cook a printmaker and a lecturer in the Art + Art History Department at UT Arlington seems incomplete in terms of both her accomplishments and aspirations. She’s also a keen observer, detail-driven, warm-hearted, and has the kind of energy that burns steadily rather than the kind that flares up and out.
Making art, keeping friends, and giving presents rank high on her All Time Favorite Things list, and for the last couple of years, Adrienne and her husband Scott (UTA assistant professor of art) have been tossing around ideas that might unite all three. When life took a little turn earlier this year, she realized that there’s no better time than the present (get it?).
Now nine months pregnant,* Adrienne is soft-launching Double Blind Surprise with an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign and a physical presence in Make Good, a coming-soon makerspace in Downtown Arlington.
Double Your Fun
Part personal shopper and part artisan collective, Double Blind Surprise is an online gift service unlike any we’ve encountered.
The gift giver begins by establishing a budget and filling out a short, fun online questionnaire about the gift receiver. Based on the information provided, the gift is curated from a group of talented artists and small businesses from up the street and around the world. The gift is wrapped, sent on its way, and remains a secret to both the giver and recipient until the present is opened. Not just a surprise, but a double-blind surprise!
Living in the Present
The idea for Double Blind Surprise germinated after Adrienne participated in a gift exchange through Reddit, where she and a stranger exchanged small gifts. She loved figuring out the taste, style and interests of a person she’d never met.
Later, as she began developing the concept for Double Blind Surprise, Adrienne knew that she wanted to create an experience that was as much fun for the gift giver as the receiver. This is a cornerstone of her business, plus the confidence that the curated gift will not only surprise but delight. This, according to Adrienne, is mastered through a tenacious commitment to detail.
“I really pay attention to small things,” said Adrienne. “That helps make me a good gift-giver.”
This attention to detail is built in to Double Blind Surprise both in the questionnaire and in the originality and quality of goods available through the platform. Adrienne ensures this by working only with artists and small businesses who share her vision and values.
“When I had an internship at Penland School of Crafts in North Carolina, I made connections with so many talented artists,” said Adrienne. “in fact, I’ve continued to meet and get to know artists through that association as well as the other universities and programs I’ve been affiliated with, including UTA. We’re even working with a couple of artists in Korea who we met when we took a trip there!”
“I’ve been living in this art world for many years,” Adrienne continued, “and I’ve seen firsthand all the incredible talent that’s out there. I kept thinking, I want to help promote them so everyone else can discover them, too.”
You can discover Double Blind Surprise today by visiting its Indiegogo site. Through Indiegogo, you can pre-order gifts that will arrive in time for Christmas. Starting in mid-November, the Double Blind Surprise website will be live.
*Congratulations to Adrienne and Scott who welcomed Baby Kit to the world on Oct. 31, 2018.
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Designated by the State of Texas as the Arlington Cultural District, Downtown Arlington blends a unique mix of activities, sights, tastes and sounds that attract visitors and locals alike. Within its less than a two-mile radius, Downtown is home to a top tier public research university, prolific fine and performing artists and arts institutions, live entertainment, exciting NCAA and professional athletics, one-of-a-kind dining and retail, and a supportive business climate.