Gifts that bring a tear to the eye

It’s fair to say you know a gift has hit the right spot when the recipient bursts into happy tears on opening it.

That’s exactly the reaction two businesswomen are aiming to hear a lot more about with their new venture.

The Artisan Hamper Company is a business that has long been in the mind of one of its creators – Jo Shippen – but it took a pandemic for it to see the light of day.

Jo, who already has a successful promotional merchandise business, found her creative juices flowing during lockdown and when she teamed up with friend Caroline Moss – the business’ time had come.

The Stockport-based firm supplies a range of personalised wooden crate gift hampers containing thoughtfully selected luxury products. While it’s still early days – those teary-eyed reactions tell them they’re on to a winning idea.

Jo said: “This has been in my head for quite a long time. There are other hamper companies out there but what’s different about this is the engraved crate is as much the gift as the content. That’s what remains long after the contents have been enjoyed.

“Because of the personalisation, we have had a lot of people burst into tears when they get it. They are blown away because it’s such a treat. They know the sender has gone the extra mile to give them something unique.

“We’ve tried to find products that are a little bit special and create a surprise and delight.”

Caroline previously worked at Jo’s other business, Hatters, before moving on to a career in advertising and raising a family. Now the two have brought their differing skills together for the new business.

Jo said: “I’m great at the ideas but not at the project management. That’s what Caroline is brilliant at, so we make a great team.

“We’re launching a new venture because it’s something that we love.”

Hand chosen gifts

Their website – – showcases luxury hampers containing products hand chosen by Jo and Caroline.

“We’ve gone luxury, rather than the lower end of the market. We’ve tried where possible to use local suppliers, such as Stockport Gin and Owen Drew candles who are based on the Wirral.

“We want to give something different and not something that you can buy all year round. It’s keeping it fresh all the time,” added Jo.

“We want to find really nice products that maybe people don’t see all the time on the shelves of their local supermarket. It’s a keepsake that’s been specially curated for you.”

Caroline said: “My initial involvement was to give some spare time to help my friend launch a new venture. As I got more involved, I realised this was a business I could really add value to. I loved my job in advertising but with two young children I was finding it difficult to balance the demands of work and family life.

“The research I was doing for Jo inspired me to put a few hampers together for some friends and family. Their reaction was so positive that I took the big decision to take the change of direction. It’s a bit scary but very exciting, we are both relishing the challenge of something new. ”

Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and baby boxes are all lined up for the Artisan Hampers treatment and customers can also buy personalised empty crates. And Jo believes there’s another group close to many people’s hearts for who a hamper is the perfect gift.

She added: “We did a box with some pet toys in and some treats with the dog’s name on it. Then the owners can keep it by the door with the collar and lead!”

→ Here are some more brilliant Greater Manchester businesses.