I'll be honest - what most impressed me initially about the gifted penguin was the fact that it stocked a retro Wonder Woman hamper stuffed with all the best sweets from my youth. That safely in the basket, I continued to look down my ever-growing things of "Things I need for the house" and was pleasantly surprised to find more covetable door mats and door stops than anyone has a right to expect on one site. I strongly suspect this makes me sound a little bit tragic, but there we are.
I spoke to friends and gifted penguin co-founders Debra Baker-Heriot and Heather Allison to find out where they got their good taste:
What inspired you to set up the gifted penguin?
Debra: Heather and I are close friends and when we entered our early forties we both wanted to do something new with our lives. We decided to set up a business which would keep us excited and motivated every day and loved the idea of setting up an online home interiors and gift shop. We love sourcing products that are a little different from the high street and are constantly looking for exciting new designs.
Where did the name come from?
We had a brainstorming session where we just came up with names of things we like and we both loved penguins. Of course the gifted speaks for itself!
What would you say sets the gifted penguin apart from other online homeware shops?
One of the frustrating things we don't like with online shops is ordering something, paying for it only to receive an email three days later telling us it's not in stock. We aim to never sale anything we don't have in stock. We also aim to despatch within one working day and by Royal Mail 1st Class as people want a quick and reliable service.
Which items from the shop do you have in your own homes?
Debra: My favourite item is a piece of artwork I commissioned by the designer Lisa Long, which is her Favourite Things canvas. The quality of the canvas is superb and the finish is second to none. It hangs above my sofa and is a big talking point for friends and family as they love to read what all my favourite things in life are.
Heather: My favourite item I have from the shop is the Family Time Clock which holds pictures of my partner, the children, the rabbit and the puppy!
Do you have a favourite product at the moment?
Our favourite item changes all the time, but:
Heather: At the moment I love the Orla Kiely storage boxes which are not only gorgeous to look at but very practical too.
Debra: It's definitely the Rob Ryan vase (pictured below). I think my first daffodils will look stunning sitting in one of these.
What sold well this Christmas?
A really good seller this Christmas was our children's artwork where the child's name is an integral part of the design with the tractor print being especially popular. And a really big seller was our Morph doorstop after it appeared in The Sunday Times Christmas gift guide.
What are your newest additions to the site?
We have a fabulous new British designer coming on board this week, Becky Broome. We will be stocking her beautiful cushions and fantastic artwork.
What would you be doing if not running the gifted penguin?
Debra: I would like to be at university studying English Literature & Philosophy and would love to write a book one day.
Heather: I studied psychotherapy and with my background in business I think I would like to be a life coach, encouraging others to make changes and take on new life challenges.
Visit www.giftedpenguin.co.uk to see everything that the gifted penguin has to offer.