New York City chef Maureen Cavalieri expands oeuvre to curated sustainably minded gift boxes
As a professional chef, Maureen Cavalieri has found herself filling the plates for the likes of the Clinton clan; Sting and Trudie, and brood; ditto Bono and the fam; Ryan Seacrest; Donna Karan; and a slew of world leaders and actors on film sets. Now with the launch of Maure—pronounced 'more'—the trained cook will become a multi-hyphenate to include gift service founder. As the concept launched this past summer and heads into its first holiday season, FashionNetwork.com discussed the new service with its founder, Cavalieri.
The pandemic marked a shift in many careers and turned idea sparks into full-fledged operations.
"Channeling my energy into other passions, I started to curate gift baskets for loved ones to let them know I was thinking of them," Cavalieri said. According to the cook, the idea snowballed from there, though she maintains cuisine is still at her career core.
To some degree, the self-funded enterprise is a culmination of her travels, which includes multiple trips to visit bestie Vicky Andrén, a model (formerly married to Gustaf Magnuson of the Swedish Royal Family) in Sweden, as well as the Mediterranean.
"I have a knack for packing a carry-on suitcase regardless of destination or duration. I always come home with additional large luggage, bringing back treasures to loved ones," she explained.
Those goodies were what Cavalieri sourced again for the first boxes and merchandise offerings, which range in theme from 'Welcome Home', 'Garden', 'Game Night', 'Dinner Party', and 'Resort' and cost from $285-$400. A combined love of nature and exploration deepened her desire to support and be familiar with the creators of the items she bought as well as their functions.
"Beauty and function are at the heart of why each item has been selected in our curated gift boxes and marketplace," she added, noting other passions such as gardening and equestrian pursuits influence the aesthetic and selection of goods.
Being eco-friendly means several things to the chef, and keeping staff fairly engaged is also vital.
"Sustainability and ethical employment practices are at the heart of Maure, which is why we have gone to great lengths to find the most sustainable partners and practices, from an artist who upcycles her clay to create gorgeous handmade vases, to zero-waste wine totes. Many of our artisans are female artists, business owners, and entrepreneurs," she explained.
For example, Bati Goods which makes leather products, promotes career paths for the underprivileged. The Turkish towels made by Indigo Traders pride themselves on fair wages and flexible work-from-home looming practices. Italian leather goods brand Hemincuff used for journals, catchalls, and coasters, uses a composite leather material made from workshop material scraps mixed with rubber and polyester for its products. Similarly, the horn items are produced by a family-run business in India that handcrafts the items from pieces found among water buffalo waste. Interestingly, Arber, a plant food, is made from recycled supermarket food waste.
Cavalieri is incredibly proud of the packaging.
"We use Tom's Sons International Pleating's recycled paper leftover from the production of pleated fabric and use this as our tissue paper," she notes.
Circularity is also a consideration.
"We wanted to eliminate the stigma around regifting. Each curated box has a beautiful dust bag that allows customers to regift an item if they don't like it."
The brand sees names such as Marigold and Gray, Simone LeBlanc, and personalized luxury gifting from high-end brands as their main competitors. Gifting services like GiftMeChic and Olivia Von Halle have sprouted up recently as concierge services at Goop, Williams Sonoma, Tiffany, and WhoWhatWear, to name a few, who provide a similar product. According to Mara Singer, a media consultant who was the former editorial director for GiftMeChic, the "holy grail" is landing a family office client. Singer says these firms, who advise ultra-high-net-worth individuals (HNWI) on wealth management in terms of investments and finances, also offer charitable giving and concierge services.
Considering Cavalieri's background, the service should be poised for that client. In the meantime, she expects Maure's organic growth to develop in many ways.
"We foresee ourselves being in luxury hotels, boutique hotels, VIP gifts for airlines, partnerships with these experts showcasing their favorite picks that will showcase unique corners of the world, and a platform for exceptional artists to be seen," she said, adding they will also be sold in The Canvas, a New York city-based multi-brand ethical fashion store.
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