Gourmet gift basket company in it for the karma
November 26, 2007
Creating a gourmet gift basket company with the intention of giving the majority of profits away to charity sounds like a hard way to make money.
But, 37-year-old Robin Bernhard of Gardnerville said the profit he’s taking is in the form of good karma.
“I’ve been giving away a portion of what I’ve earned for the last 10 years of my life. It’s something I learned at a young age from my dad. When I was young, I gave a lot away to environmental nonprofit groups and animal welfare groups, but now I focus more on community charities.”
Bernhard grew up in Ohio and graduated college with a degree in high school English education.
He taught English in Spain for two years, in his spare time traveling to places like India and writing articles for travel guides. In 1998, he moved to San Francisco and worked as a trip leader for Backroads, a travel guide service organizing trips in Italy and Costa Rica.
In 2004, Bernhard became an operations manager for Barclays Global Investors. Being able to work from home, he decided to move to Gardnerville after participating in the annual Alpine County Death Ride bicycle tour.
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“I stayed in the Historian Inn,” he said. “I fell in love with Gardnerville. It had everything I was looking for: a small-town feel, a place friendly to small business, and the great outdoors.”
Nine months ago, Bernhard teamed up with Dana Worland of Carson City, an actress in the Nevada Shakespeare Company, to form Bon Vivant Ltd.
“We both were plagued by the feeling that we were never giving enough to charity,” said Bernhard. “We decided that there was a more efficient way to do it.”
He said Bon Vivant takes orders for customized gift baskets, ranging from $20 to $400 in value. Baskets include gourmet cheeses, crackers, meats, chocolates and wines from California, depending on the order.
“Through our Web site, we can ship baskets across the country, but we’ve focused most of our business locally in Douglas County,” Bernhard said. “Right now 100 percent of our profits go to local charities, like Relay for Life, Families for Effective Autism Treatment and the Boys & Girls Club. But in the future, we would like to reinvest a small percent back into the company. Make more money to give more away.”
Bernard said he would like to reinvest about 10 percent of the profits back into the business. He said his two biggest clients in Carson Valley are Syncon Homes and Greater Nevada Credit Union. But he also sells baskets to individuals.
“My mom and Dana’s mom are competing for that top spot,” he said, chuckling.
He said he would eventually like to open up a store for Bon Vivant and teach gift basket making.
“Everybody gives gifts, so why not make it a win-win situation for both the person and the community,” he said. “We’re going to add a tag line to our name: exceptional baskets, fantastic causes and great service.”
For more information call (775) 636-7612 or visit BonVivantLtd.com.