Mother-daughter duo Ewa Zagorska and Daria Luczkowski launched Mia Bella in February 2022. The curated gift box company provides unique, hand-selected gifting solutions for individuals and companies. MetroHartford Alliance Content Manager Nan Price spoke with Daria about their entrepreneurial journey.
NAN PRICE: Have you always been entrepreneurial?
DARIA LUCZKOWSKI: Very much so and always in partnership with my mom. When we moved to the United States in 1999 we started couple of businesses that were very successful. One was a cleaning business the other was a catering and event planning business.
NAN: How did you come up with the concept for Mia Bella?
DARIA: My mom has always had an eye toward artsy, creative things. She used to own a florist shop when we lived in Poland.
Unfortunately, with the pandemic, the world turned upside down. With all the restrictions, many offices weren’t open and many celebrations came to a full halt. After two years, our businesses couldn’t survive.
The idea for Mia Bella came as we were preparing for the winter holidays. My children attend regular school and Polish Saturday school. I’ve always been in charge of gifting, party organization, and celebrations. My mom and I had set up what looked like a factory in our dining room organizing assembling gifts for teachers. We had a great time doing it. That’s where the idea sparked that this would be a great thing to do as a new venture. We enjoyed it and it’s something we know folks on the receiving end also enjoy.
Toward the end of 2021, we started doing the research to get up and running, investigating search engine optimization (SEO) options, website platforms, and how to get best supported with this new venture, because we do ultimately want to expand nationwide.
NAN: What kinds of lessons have you learned along the way that have helped with this new business?
DARIA: I tapped into my prior experience and my education. I earned my Master of Business Administration from the University of Connecticut. I try to leverage what I’ve learned and take from the prior businesses we’ve had to get this one up and running.
The pandemic is such an unusual example, but it really brought to light that as you’re building a business and creating a business plan, you really need to account for unpredictable risks and have an idea that’s kind of bulletproof.
As we were talking about starting a new venture, we had to consider what would still be relevant if something like the pandemic were to come up again, where everything around you shuts down. We didn’t want to be in the same predicament as we were with the cleaning business when offices shut down and there no need for that or the catering or event planning business, when all of that was put on hold and restrictions prevented us from doing anything.
This particular venture seems ideal. There are always some sort of celebrations happening throughout the year, whether it’s holidays or personal celebrations—weddings, birthdays, anniversaries, graduations. On our website, you can build your own gift box, create a custom birthday gift box, or choose from holiday-specific gift boxes for things like Easter, Passover, Christmas, and Hanukah. You name it, we have it: custom birthday gift boxes, sunshine gift boxes, sympathy gift boxes, and a whole bridal gifts collection, including bridesmaid proposal gift boxes, engagement gift boxes, and custom wedding welcome gifts.
NAN: Are your gifts locally sourced?
DARIA: Yes. One of our missions is to source and procure goods as much as we can within the United States. Even our packaging, which is eco-friendly, is sourced from the United States.
Also at least 80% of our goods come from local, small businesses, many of which are women-owned. Most of the products we source are handmade, high-quality, and organic. We want to provide a premium product selection and support the community, too.
NAN: How are you marketing and building your clientele?
DARIA: A lot of it is grounded in social media. We utilize different platforms and we’ve been establishing presence. We also invest in SEO, so we can become top-ranking over time on Google and other search engines.
I’ve been working late nights, writing informative blogs and posting them online so folks can hopefully find the information we’re sharing useful and educational and then they’re led to our website, where they can take advantage of what we have to offer.
NAN: What’s next? You said you were hoping to expand nationally?
DARIA: That’s really the plan. That’s the way the company was built, model-wise. We can take orders from anywhere within the United States and ship our custom gift boxes anywhere within the United States. We have a wide selection of ready-to-shop gift boxes, We partner with several mail carriers to offer a variety of shipment options.
Right now, it’s a matter of building our brand spreading awareness that we’re out there and we’re based out of Connecticut.