Methuen pair put their designer flair into gift baskets

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METHUEN — When they realized there was no future for them with Macy’s after it acquired Filenes, Denise Sirois and Janice Loughlin decided it was time to start their own business, Jaden Distinctive Gift Baskets.

With their careers in fine jewelry ending, they decided eight months ago to try their hand at the gift baskets.

Sirois and Loughlin design and build the baskets at Sirois’ home in Methuen.

“We had to start this business basically on a shoestring with both of us being out of work,” Loughlin said.

Both women worked in the Salem, N.H. Filenes store, but were not employees of the company; they leased the fine jewelry counter for six years.

Both married, the business partners had their spouses’ backing.

“I think both of them were very supportive,” Loughlin said. “I remember my husband, Dan, saying, ‘What have you got to lose? Life is too short, take a shot.’ And we did.”

Jaden Distinctive Gift Baskets is not the average gift-basket company. It offer items such as Stonewall Kitchen and Ipswich Bay bath products.

“They’re both well-known and local,” Sirois said. “We’re trying to stay local so people can recognize them. We’re trying to stay in the New England area.”

Not only do they use those types of products, but Sirois and Loughlin decided to not use actual baskets.

“Our thing is to use useful containers,” Loughlin explained. “Whether it be pretty household decorative bowls or the gourmet gift basket that usually comes in a stainless steel colander, something that is useful instead of a basket that most people just throw away.”

The containers are not as simple as they sound. Most have some sort of design handpainted by Loughlin.

“She’s really creative,” Sirois said. “For our holiday line almost everything is handpainted so you cannot just go out and by something similar. We have one that is ‘Let it Snow’ that is dark blue container with little snowmen, Christmas trees and snow. It’s a cute little scene and you can use it later as a candy dish.”

Sirois said they wanted to stay away from fruit and personalize their arrangements.

“We do sympathy baskets where we put tea in them along with cookies, note cards and thank-you cards,” Sirois said. “We want to give you something different that you can send instead of just fruit.”

Jaden has a variety of gifts to choose from starting at just $14.98, but leaves it up to the customers to decide how little or how much they want to spend.

“We have 28 standard arrangements; anywhere from bath and body spa products to gourmet foods,” Loughlin explained. “But we would really like people to call and say, ‘I like the look of this particular item, but I don’t want to spend that much or I want to spend more. Can you do something for me that way?’ So it’s basically a starting point for them.

“Our baskets are not just going to be run of the mill; we want to be a little different. We want our baskets to have what (our customers) want them to have. If we don’t have a specific product, we’ll go get it.”

You can place an order on-line or call 978-685-5110.

Have a story idea? Gayle Simone can be reached at 978-970-4838 or by e-mail at gsimone@thevalleydispatch.com.