Personality Prints: Giftbug

Today's Personality Prints interviewee is Shannon Miller, founder of Giftbug, a company that makes gift giving easier. I met Shannon last year when we both participated in a mastermind for local women entrepreneurs. In this feature you will get to meet Shannon and her husband Andy, as well as their dogs Bug and Bella. Bug crossed the rainbow bridge at the beginning of this year, and is deeply missed. 

Tell me where you can be found.

Tell me a little bit about your business.

Have you ever had that moment where you are so excited for a friend to open their gift that you have to keep yourself from helping them unwrap it faster? A gifting win like this isn’t just exciting, it usually follows learning something new and amazing about someone you care about and adding to the friendship. I have a passion for giving great gifts and creating powerful connections, and this started me on the path to giftbug and a mission to reclaim the art of gifting.                       

I want to break the cycle of gifting feeling like an obligation or a transaction between two people. I believe we can inspire conversations and connections by moving beyond a list of items and finding out what our friends are passionate about. The website started as a universal gift registry - a free online site where users can store all of their wishes for any occasion. And by adding the flexibility to share the stories about what makes you smile, giftbug is elevating gifting beyond a boring list of things . From your favorite local shops and artisans, to hobbies and experiential gifts, and even supporting the charities that are important to you, giftbug makes it possible to share all of the ways, big and small, to celebrate you and make you smile.

Tell me about your pets. How did they come into your life?

Bug (left) and Bella (right) are both rescue dogs, something that we are very passionate about. Bug came into our life first, she was actually a gift from my then boyfriend, and now husband Andy. We got her from a hound rescue organization in Houston, TX (where we were living). She was so timid and shy and didn’t make a sound the day we visited her at her foster home - and she hasn’t stopped barking, whining, moaning and generally commenting since getting her home. She has this funny habit of dramatically sighing like an exasperated teenager, especially if we won’t give her what she wants (like the food on our plates.) Bug loved to be outside, nose to the ground investigating, or more likely digging a new hole in our backyard. At 13 she still had great bursts of energy where she wanted to play or run outside, but she was also a total couch potato who would've told you that it was indeed her couch.

I found Bella as a puppy wandering on the street around my apartment in Houston. I was planning to take her to a shelter since I already had Bug, but she stole my heart before I ever made it there. There were definitely challenges with combining these two alphas who had both likely seen abuse as puppies. There was a lot of hard work and a few trips to the emergency vet clinic, but they eventually worked it out and they are now best buds (well, most days.) Where Bug is a little aloof and happy to do her own thing, Bella is a people dog and always wants to be where we are. She loves to cuddle and get attention - until she doesn’t. When she needs cave time she will let you know, loudly, and find the nearest table to hide underneath. She still looks just like a puppy even though she’s also 12 or 13. She’s slowing down a lot but does like the occasional backyard scavenger hunt with her buddy Bug.

Do you and your dogs (pets) share personality traits that has helped you in life/business?

Bug was very curious, an important characteristic of any entrepreneur. Bella is so affectionate and in-tune with the needs of her pack. She’s a great gift giver because she always knows when I need the gift of some Bella cuddles. And we all definitely share a love of peanut butter!

How does your pets support you and or inspire you and your business?

The name giftbug is inspired by our Bug. When we were developing the website we had giant sheets of paper on the wall of our office that were covered with ideas for website names. Many of them included ‘bug’ and ‘bella’ and in the end giftbug was the winner.

One of my favorite things about giftbug is the ability to support charities that are important to us. My giftbug registry includes donations to a local animal shelter and support for military service dogs.

Do you have a favorite quote that you live by?

“Fear is excitement without breath” - Fritz Perls

I love this quote so much because it reminds me to breathe when I’m overwhelmed. It’s a natural reaction to fear, to hold our breath, and you can’t move past the fear until you start breathing again. It also has always reminded me that fear and excitement can physically feel so similar and not to shortchange myself on excitement by always labeling what I’m feeling as fear. Especially as an entrepreneur, so much of what I do is outside of my comfort zone and so I am always challenging myself to focus on the excitement and not the fear.