Curated Care Packages Straight from Edina

It can be a challenge to know what to send your often busy, sometimes broke and occasionally homesick college kids. A care package specially designed by Love from the Nest may be the perfect solution.

This care package service began when co-owner Kristen Karpinsky wanted to send a package to her youngest child at camp. After a quick search online, Karpinsky found only packages with food and lacking unique gift items. Around the same time, this mom of three went to a local farmers market and found an artisan-made makeup brush, a find her daughters loved.

With a 13-year-old and a 16-year-old, and a 17-year-old about to embark on her first year of college, this Edina mom saw an opportunity to fill a need in the market for curated care packages filled with quality, usable goods, like what she found at the farmers market. Her professional background has been in sales and product research, along with identifying unique products, so the choice was an easy transition.

Each box has a theme such as “reboot” and “nest,” and have products made specifically for girls or guys. At first glance, you may notice the Instagram-worthy packages don’t have mainstream products. The boxes hold artisan goods like air plants, skin care and small-batch snacks.

“Our boxes are an advantage if you’re too busy to run around or if you’re not confident in what to buy,” says Karpinsky. “I also get my eyes on more products.”

Karpinsky looks for up-and-coming goods at local, artisan and makers shows across the U.S. “That’s what we’re looking for, those fresh, modern, unique and usable items that give our demographic something they might not buy for themselves,” Karpinsky says, who places the company’s demographic between ages 13 and 30. The goods are sophisticated enough for those in their 20s to covet, and different enough to get teens excited about.

For this past Valentine’s Day, Karpinsky went to a Los Angeles market for box products and came back with cookie dough in a jar, tea drops and pour-over coffee.

“Everything we put in is a thoughtful mix,” says Karpinsky. “We try to include a higher-end food item, something for your body and something for your room.”

Made by local company Waam Industries, the wood boxes are designed to be reused for storage or as a hangable box with its built-in backdrop artwork. Karpinsky’s co-owner Tracy Rickert designs the back of the box. With her background in design and product development, the graphics are modern and simple, a quick dorm room storage solution. “Every bit of the box is utilized,” Karpinsky says.

With each box, parents can upload three pictures that are printed and included with a note from home, a personal touch essential for Karpinsky. “A lot of times when they go away, they miss their siblings and dogs. It’s another way to decorate your dorm room,” she explains.

The personal touch extends to Love from the Nest’s blog. There, Karpinsky shares personal anecdotes from her business travels, customer feedback and stories from her family. With other contributors sharing tips for choosing schools, college life and the job hunt, the blog encompasses their main demographic. With her daughter about to go to college, Karpinsky hopes the blog will act as resource for parents and students going through the process.

“There are very few blogs for parents with college-aged kids,” says Karpinsky. “It’s a great way to keep parents updated on our journey and community forum.”

The feedback and “mom community” have been a key factor in Love from the Nest’s success. After beginning work in July 2016 and then officially launching last November, Karpinsky says  the research leading up to the venture has paid off. She’s received nothing but positive feedback from parents and kids, along with Instagram posts from college students and thanks from parents relieved of the guesswork.

“I’ve shared some of the angst I’ve had over the years,” friend and client Stephanie Platteter says. “I feel like I drive all over town looking for cute things and spending all this money and time.”

Platteter appreciates the different and non-traditional finds the Love from the Nest owners stock their boxes with. The box she sent her daughter in college was hung on the wall for decoration. Mostly, Platteter appreciates Karpinsky and Rickert’s eyes for a good find.“I don’t have time to look for that stuff and, frankly, Kristen and Tracy are cooler than me,” Platteter says.

“One things we are absolutely going to do in 2018–2019 is a give back program,” says Karpinsky, who wants to team up with their current makers to provide a box to a kid in need for every one sold.

Each box is still put together in Edina, the same place all of the decisions are made. Even to the surprise of Karpinsky’s son. “He wanted to make sure his Valentine’s Day order was in on time,” Karpinsky says. “I said, ‘Who do you think is putting these together?’”