Step aside, girly gift basket.
Hello, Manly Can.
âWho needs a basket anyway,â said Jeni Huelskamp, ââfounder of Manly Cans in Ozark.
Manly Cans launched on December 1, 2015, and it’s a gift business for men. Think about men’s gift baskets, but eliminate the basket and put the gift items in a reusable box, like a trash can or ice bucket.
Huelskamp wants to change the gift industry.
âTwo really important things I wanted to do was we wanted all the packaging to be usable. The can, the men’s cards are coasters. In many gift baskets, the packaging is disposable. We wanted to try to focus on as many local businesses as possible. We tried to work with local suppliers like Just for Him, Redneck Nutz, Kingdom Coffee cigars, âshe said.
When she can’t find a local product, she looks for products from Missouri, like Burgers’ Smokehouse sausage, then American items. All cans are made in the USA.
With Manly Cans, Huelskamp is trying to fill a void in the gift basket industry, an industry she has been entrenched in since 2007 when she opened Edible Arrangements in Springfield.
Over the years, she has heard a variety of clients complain that there is not enough choice for men, which has seeded the idea for this business. After dreaming and thinking, she decided to open Manly Cans.
It has been a huge learning process. After renting the first location for her business which was in Highlandville, she discovered that the internet was not available and the post office did not deliver or pick up at the rural address.
This is a serious problem for a business that sends gift items and accepts online orders, so they moved the merchandise to their property in Ozark. She will likely get past that and have to move somewhere else, but at this point, this is where she is based.
The first company she hired for her website didn’t work, so she had to rebuild it.
âIt’s been a huge learning curve. We’re just a baby, âshe said.
As a woman running a business geared towards men, she set up text message discussion groups to better understand what men would like to receive as a gift.
âI texted discussion groups and asked 40 men, ‘If you had to choose between these two flavors of sausage, what would you want? They wanted buffalo and venison. I wouldn’t have chosen that. It was fun picking guys’ brains because they want different things than you might think, âshe said.
Another revelation is that what a man wants is not necessarily what his wife will choose. She learned this by comparing the responses of husband and wife in focus groups.
With Manly Cans, you have the choice between several themes: a technical can; a snack can; a carnivore; and an EmergiCan that includes everything from jumper cables, bottle opener, utility knife, sturdy flashlight and more.
Another aspect that was important to her as she built her business was to offer customizable cans. Although it has themed cans, people can create their own to make sure the recipient really likes whatever they receive.
âWith a traditional basket, most of the time you don’t even want or use half of the items,â she said. âThese would make a great college care package. “
While she has been thinking about launching Manly Cans for some time, now is the time to start her other business, she has employees she can trust and can afford to step out when she needs to be occupied. by Manly Cans.
Huelskamp also has two college-aged children who have been involved in the business; her husband is a diving coach at Missouri State University.
This week, she added another product to her line: A Little Man Can, intended to celebrate the birth of a baby boy.
âI would love to walk into the hospital gift shops with the baby boxes. We want it to be fun. We have a pacifier with a mustache. We have a Superman jumpsuit that’s cool in that it has sculpted muscles. We have a bib that looks like a tuxedo. We have a blue gum cigar and the ability to throw a real cigar for daddy, âHuelskamp said.
Currently, most of her business is local, but she believes her national presence will grow stronger as she starts shipping more cans. Huelskamp offers same day deliveries to Springfield and surrounding towns. People also have the option of picking up the Manly Can from Edible Arrangements.
Although juggling two deals has been difficult, she says the fact that they attract different markets helps her manage her time.
âMy big time for edible arrangements is Mother’s Day,â Huelskamp said. âMy big moment for Manly Cans will be Father’s Day. Fortunately, these are different months.
You want to know more ?
Manly Cans is a current Ozark-based gift company that caters to men. It offers nationwide shipping; local delivery to Springfield, Ozark, Nixa, Strafford, Willard, Republic and Rogersville and a pickup point in Springfield. Manly Cans accepts orders the same day. Find it online: http://www.manlycans.com/