Lindsay Hinger, Founder & CEO at Gifting With Valor LLC
Gifting with Valor fosters meaningful connections between their clients and their gift recipients while also supporting military entrepreneurs. They do this by being a certified woman-owned and Veteran-owned corporate gifting company that purchases products only from military spouse and veteran owned businesses.
They have established relationships with over 100 military suppliers to increase their sales, broaden their brand’s recognition, and establish long-term working relationships in which all of us can grow.
For three years, they have successfully delivered gift boxes and bags for real estate closings, special events, client appreciation programs, and much more. Our process starts with a consultation, and we handle everything through delivery. Our clients save money and time by relying on our expertise.
Connect with Lindsay on LinkedIn and Follow Gifting With Valor on Facebook.
Intro: [00:00:04] Broadcasting live from the Business RadioX studios in Atlanta, Georgia, it’s time for GWBC Radio’s Open for Business. Now, here’s your host.
Lee Kantor: [00:00:18] Lee Kantor here. Another episode of GWBC Open for Business. And this is going to be a fun one. Today on the show, we have Lindsay Hinger with Gifting with Valor. Welcome, Lindsay.
Lindsay Hinger: [00:00:30] Thank you so much, Lee. I really appreciate you having me.
Lee Kantor: [00:00:33] Well, I am so excited to learn what you’re up to. Tell us a little bit about Gifting with Valor. How are you serving folks?
Lindsay Hinger: [00:00:39] Well, we’ve found that organizations that pursue military causes need a way to honor and show appreciation to their stakeholders. And we also know that these gifts are much better received if they hold meaning to their recipients. So, what we’ve done at Gifting with Valor is we’ve created a corporate gifting service with a patriotic twist. So, we handle gift boxes and swag bags in bulk, all the way from product curation through delivery, and only source our products from veteran-owned or military-spouse-owned businesses. So, not only do we provide our clients a means to demonstrate their support of our military families, they also don’t have to lift a finger. So, it’s quite a good deal for our clientele.
Lee Kantor: [00:01:26] And it’s a righteous circle, right? Every step of the way, you’re serving those folks that you want to serve.
Lindsay Hinger: [00:01:33] That’s absolutely right. We keep the dollars in the military family, so that our military entrepreneurs can prosper after their service has ended.
Lee Kantor: [00:01:45] Now, what was the genesis of the idea? How did this idea come about?
Lindsay Hinger: [00:01:49] Well, actually, this is my second business. The first business I started was called MilSO Box, and that stood for Military Significant Other. It was a monthly subscription box for the female significant others of the military. And while I was doing that business, I thought it would just be a cool idea to only include military entrepreneurs, entrepreneur businesses for their products. And what turned into “Wouldn’t that just be cool?” turned into parlaying it into Gifting with Valor, which is a totally different target market. So, it had to be a different entity. But we turned it from, you know, wouldn’t this be cool to now having a brand promise of only sourcing for military spouses and veterans?
Lee Kantor: [00:02:40] So, the source of the products are people with military background, but the person who can buy the box could be anybody?
Lindsay Hinger: [00:02:48] That’s correct. Anyone can buy the boxes. We do in bulk though, so it has to be at least 25 boxes so that we can truly give value.
Lee Kantor: [00:02:57] And then, who is the typical buyer? Is this like kind of corporate gifts? Who is your ideal kind of customer prospect?
Lindsay Hinger: [00:03:05] So, our target market really are Fortune 500 military affairs personnel who have ERGs, you know, employee resource groups, who want to celebrate their employees through employee – excuse me – employee retention programs and appreciation programs. We also do client appreciation programs with small to medium-sized, veteran-owned businesses that want to just represent their military background and surprise and delight their clients with a really cool cause.
Lee Kantor: [00:03:48] Now, when you kind of pivoted, did you sell your first business or did this kind of evolve into – the second business kind of evolved naturally into from the first business?
Lindsay Hinger: [00:03:58] I actually did sell my first business a year after I started Gifting with Valor. So, I started MilSO Box in 2016 and sold it in 2019 to a military spouse who runs it today. And a year before that purchase, I started it in 2018 with Gifting with Valor.
Lee Kantor: [00:04:22] And then, with-
Lindsay Hinger: [00:04:22] So, it’s been almost four years.
Lee Kantor: [00:04:24] Now, when did you kind of first get the clue that, “Hey, this thing’s going to catch on. This is really working?”
Lindsay Hinger: [00:04:33] Well, I absolutely love the business model of Gifting with Valor because instead of working from business to consumer, like I was with MilSO Box, I’m working business to business. And so, I’ve really enjoyed working with clients in a more collaborative environment where we do a lot of customization, and every interaction can have a stronger margin and more profits versus the first business that I owned, which had pretty stringent margins, and the higher the volume, the better that business would do; whereas this one, we can have just a few clients with really high volumes and do very well.
Lee Kantor: [00:05:18] And then, so, like, no two boxes are the same. You’re customizing what’s in the box based on the desires of the client?
Lindsay Hinger: [00:05:26] That’s correct. We do total customization, but we are kind of turning towards a more preset situation, so that we can scale. So, our website is going to be updated soon with different mockups that we’ve done with the product samples that we’ve gotten from all these different suppliers that we work with. We work with over a hundred suppliers that qualify as military spouse and veteran-owned businesses.
Lee Kantor: [00:05:57] So, that must be the fun part, right, curating all of those products?
Lindsay Hinger: [00:06:01] It is. It’s so much fun. You know, of course, when we talk to a client, we want to make sure that we really capture the culture of their business, and we want to capture what they want their recipients to feel when they open the box. So, it’s very much a heightened – all of the senses need to be delighted. And so, we have a very well-rounded approach when it comes to curating and like to touch all the senses if we can. So, it is a lot of fun to work with our clients that way and to see the excitement as we build these boxes together.
Lee Kantor: [00:06:46] Now, what’s an example? Maybe don’t name the brands that were in the box, but what are the types of things that’s in a Given box?
Lindsay Hinger: [00:06:53] Oh, sure. There are home decor items, coffee, let’s say chocolate-covered espresso beans, journals, mugs, pens, bottle openers, coasters. I mean, really, all of the gifts that you can imagine that are universally accepted, because almost always, we have to do gender neutral and age neutral as well. So, we like to do gifts that are more on the patriotic side that appeal to everyone who is an American, who appreciates the military background of these suppliers.
Lee Kantor: [00:07:38] And is it typically like, you know, three to five items? Is it 10 items? About how many items go in a box?
Lindsay Hinger: [00:07:47] It really depends on the client and their budget and what they want. We have had as few as three items in a box and as many as ten. So, it really depends.
Lee Kantor: [00:07:59] And then — so, you said the commitment, if I have a company, I got to order like minimum around 25 in order to make this kind of work for both sides?
Lindsay Hinger: [00:08:11] Yes, sir. And the nice part about that minimum of 25 is that I actually work with the person who bought my first business, MilSO Box. She started a second business herself where she handles all quantities under 25 gift boxes. So, when someone comes to me and they want less than 25, I have an easy referral to her and she can take care of them.
Lee Kantor: [00:08:39] Well, it sounds like you’re always looking for ways to partner and create win-win situations with the people around you. How did that kind of philosophy come into play in your life? How did you kind of design your life to be such a generous person?
Lindsay Hinger: [00:08:55] Oh, well, thank you. I really believe in collaboration over competition, and I think it came from actually working for a pallet program management company, believe it or not. You know what pallets are? You know the wooden things you move things on with a forklift. In that business, I was just a customer service rep, but the whole philosophy of the business was to partner with the pallet suppliers and to build a relationships with them. Not to use and abuse them or just pay them and forget about them; it was to build a relationship so that we could all prosper. And I took that philosophy and I’ve applied it ever since. And it’s been extremely rewarding. And it’s part of the reason that I enjoy networking so much and connecting people to resources that they need.
Lee Kantor: [00:09:51] And the impact that you’re making is real because every time you have a sale, each one of those partners inside the box get a sale too?
Lindsay Hinger: [00:10:00] That’s absolutely right. And we encourage them to include marketing material as well in the boxes, so that they can get a little more advertisement out there.
Lee Kantor: [00:10:09] Right, because that could be – that’s their way of sampling their product to somebody who maybe have never heard of them before.
Lindsay Hinger: [00:10:15] That’s right. And we also – in every box, we place a packing list, which includes the client’s message to the recipient and also shows what each product is, where it came from, and where the person can get more if they want some.
Lee Kantor: [00:10:33] Now, you were in the military, right? That was-
Lindsay Hinger: [00:10:38] I was. I was in the Air Force.
Lee Kantor: [00:10:39] Now, when you left the military, did you think, “Oh, I’m going to be an entrepreneur”? Was that kind of your path? Or like how did you get into entrepreneurship?
Lindsay Hinger: [00:10:49] Actually, yes, I did think I was going to be an entrepreneur when I left the Air Force. I actually read Rich Dad, Poor Dad probably six months before I separated from the Air Force. And I thought being an entrepreneur, I had to do it, but I could not be in the military while I did it, which is absolutely not true. But it took ten years of trying and failing at different ventures until I finally started my first business, MilSO Box. So, it was a long road with lots of – it was a big adventure.
Lee Kantor: [00:11:27] Now, any advice for the listener out there who might be – maybe they are not in the military, but maybe they’re in a job that they’re in right now and they have these dreams of being an entrepreneur? Is there any kind of do’s and don’ts you can share to help them take the leap successfully?
Lindsay Hinger: [00:11:44] Sure. There are some really basic things that I like to tell people. And the number one thing is if you need help to have the entrepreneurial mindset or you don’t think that you can self-motivate, don’t do it because that’s the only way to be an entrepreneur is to self-motivate. Nobody, no outside forces are going to make you be accountable to yourself and to your business. And I know that because I have a hard time with accountability. And I know that because I have business coaches that I’ve used that have been very beneficial to me. So, I definitely advocate to be extremely self-aware before you go down that path. That’s one thing that I definitely advocate.
Lee Kantor: [00:12:35] And then, any lessons from the military that you’re using maybe every day in your business because the military does a great job of training and creating systems?
Lindsay Hinger: [00:12:44] Yeah, that’s definitely true. I have a keen sense of detail or – excuse me, what am I trying to say?
Lee Kantor: [00:12:56] The attention to detail?
Lindsay Hinger: [00:12:58] Thank you. Attention to detail, which I forgot the words of attention to detail, which is great, but attention to detail is a huge thing. Like, I’m a really good editor of any kind of copy. And then, in the military, you also have to kind of keep your emotions at bay when things go sideways. So, I’m pretty good in a crisis situation. I definitely credit that to the military as well.
Lee Kantor: [00:13:30] So, as you’re kind of living this entrepreneur life now, are you seeing similarities between the military life and entrepreneurship?
Lindsay Hinger: [00:13:41] Strength of character, for sure.
Lee Kantor: [00:13:46] And things go sideways in both cases. I mean, the stakes are lower. I mean, they’re still high, but it’s not usually life-or-death situations for sure.
Lindsay Hinger: [00:13:57] For sure, for sure. Having to try as hard as you can and not being able to hide, but I say that you can’t hide in the military, but that was because I was an officer, and officers are rare. So, really you can’t hide as an officer. And as an entrepreneur, you can’t hide either. You are the story behind your business if it’s a small business. That’s a huge lesson that I learned with my first business was that people buy the story. They don’t buy the product or the service; they buy you. Yeah. So, that’s been quite an interesting journey, having to open up as a person who really just wants to create and make a business succeed championing everyone else, not really wanting it to be focused on me, but having to do that.
Lee Kantor: [00:14:59] Now, how did you get involved with GWBC? How did that get on your radar?
Lindsay Hinger: [00:15:05] Well, you know that palette program management company that I spoke about, I actually helped the female owner become certified through WBENC, and that was like ten years ago. And then, through Gifting with Valor, I started working with Johnson & Johnson. They’re our biggest customer. And the military affairs lead over there personally asked if I would go ahead and become a certified woman-owned. So, I went ahead and did the certification through WBENC.
Lee Kantor: [00:15:41] And then, so that you had already seen the benefits of doing that at your previous job. And I guess it made perfect sense to do it now?
Lindsay Hinger: [00:15:50] It did. It did for sure. And we’ve done business with Johnson & Johnson for the past three years. And each year we’ve had their spend increase and had better and better results. So, it’s definitely been a good decision that we made.
Lee Kantor: [00:16:09] Yeah, I think that especially if you’re trying to get enterprise-level customers, it makes perfect sense to partner with GWBC and tap into that network because that can take your business to a whole new level pretty quickly.
Lindsay Hinger: [00:16:27] It sure can. And, you know, I’m not only a certified-woman owned, but I’m a veteran-owned business as well. So, we hit the supplier diversity requirements twofold, which is awesome. And so, we try to publicize that as much as possible.
Lee Kantor: [00:16:46] Now, in your work, you seem so service-minded and so collaborative. What feels better for you, to get a sale for yourself or know that, you know, there’s five businesses inside this box that are going to get a sale as well? Like, I mean, the ripple effect of your work is just amazing. You’ve designed an amazing, thoughtful business-
Lindsay Hinger: [00:17:12] Thank you.
Lee Kantor: [00:17:12] … that helps so many different people. It just must be so rewarding.
Lindsay Hinger: [00:17:16] Thank you. I really appreciate that. You know, I have to focus on the sales that we get at Gifting with Valor because if I focus too much on each individual brand that we’re representing and that we’re proposing in these gift boxes, then I think my heart would get in the way a little bit because when we’re curating for these boxes, we have to look at the packaging, and we have to consider the names of the products, and how they balance with the other products. And so, we have, let’s say, five or six coffee companies that we work with, and so I don’t want to say that they’re interchangeable, but I love Sally Jo’s coffee company, but I also love Tommy Smith’s coffee company, but I can’t favor any of them. I have to think only about what the client and their recipients will want, if that makes sense.
Lee Kantor: [00:18:23] Right. I mean, your client is the one you’re serving the most, and all these other people are part of that, the ability to serve them. And I guess you can’t just allow you feel, “Oh, here’s an up-and-comer. I really rooting for them. Let me give them kind of special, you know, access.” When it’s the customer that matters, you got to really serve them and do right by them.
Lindsay Hinger: [00:18:47] Right. And of course, our history with the suppliers matters a lot too because we have favorite suppliers that we turn to. And a lot of times, it’s the ease of ordering and, you know, just having good open lines of communication with some of the suppliers that makes them more preferred by us. But that always changes too, as people emerge and as we get to know our suppliers more and more. And speaking of that, that’s a part of the business I really want to develop more of is to actually help the suppliers because that’s what I do in my volunteer work is I mentor entrepreneurs through American corporate partners. So, being able to provide resources or any kind of advice to our suppliers would be, I think, really great. And to have that kind of community built would be a nice aspect to our business.
Lee Kantor: [00:19:51] So, what do you need more of? How can we help?
Lindsay Hinger: [00:19:54] Oh, just spreading the word is really how I need help and getting this concept in front of those military-facing organizations because there are so many of them that could benefit from something like this. We do events, VIP speaker boxes, we do closings for real estate companies, which is really cool. All they have to do is tell us the name and the address of someone who just closed on a house, and we send them a new gift box. And that’s usually for military-oriented areas. And yeah, so just spreading the word to those military-focused people is really what we need right now.
Lee Kantor: [00:20:50] And if somebody wants to learn more, what’s the website?
Lindsay Hinger: [00:20:53] Giftingwithvalor.com.
Lee Kantor: [00:20:56] Well. Lindsay, thank you so much for sharing your story today. You’re doing such important work and we appreciate you.
Lindsay Hinger: [00:21:02] Oh, thank you so much. I appreciate the time.
Lee Kantor: [00:21:05] All right. This is Lee Kantor. We’ll see y’all next time on GWBC Open for Business.