Wednesday, 5 December 2012

merry christmas from Ask Her Friends

Every now and then (and these really are few and far between!) I get e-mails from PR agencies or companies asking me to feature them or their clients on here - usually I politely decline (if they actually get my name right) or just ignore the message (if they've sent a massive spam-my group e-mail). But when I was contacted from the lovely people at Ask Her Friends, I clicked through to the website and was actually pleasantly surprised.



If I'm honest, it's pretty genius, and I'm surprised it's taken so long to appear. The founder, Ben, stumbled across the idea after he'd spent countless hours searching for the perfect gift for his then-girlfriend - we all know that most men end up with a bad case of The Fear when it comes to present buying, and he was no different. The aim of the website is to present the customer with a selection of gifts from various brands, tailored to the likes, dislikes and personal taste of the recipient - I particularly like the quiz element, which after answering a short series of questions, presents you with a list of 'ideal' presents. I filled it out as if I were the Husband buying for me, and was pretty impressed with the results (coughcoughhinthinthusband):




Once I'd had a good nose through the website, I had about a gazillion nosy questions, and was lucky enough to be able to chat to Ben over e-mail, where he spoke about hand-made cards, success stories and worm farms....

AskHerFriends is a great website - how did you come up with the idea?
I find getting a gift for someone almost nerve-wracking - you're putting yourself out there, putting a bit of yourself into it, really. So if it isn't well-received, that can be really disappointing - almost like rejection? I guess I'm just over-sensitive! So I tended to just ask people what they wanted - if you're getting a gift, you may as well get them something they want, and if it costs a little bit more and you have to throw money at the problem, so what? Other people, like my brother, for instance, would be great at getting gifts for people, and I was always jealous of how they'd do it - it's basically not being afraid of making a mistake. So that was the idea of the website, really - to try and find a way to make it a bit easier for people to get ideas, and get comfort that those ideas would work, without taking away the nice parts about getting a gift for someone - that closeness, intimacy, of wanting to find them something that they'll really love, as a token of your affection for them. My friend and I had been kicking around the idea of getting that 'comfort' by getting more viewpoints on the ideas - asking friends. And then the rest of the site just built around that, particular our focus on finding the cooler and smaller boutiques - because gifts from somewhere a guy could never normally find are much better than something from a high street store.

Have you had any gift-giving disasters?
I've had a few gift-giving disasters. The one I always talk about was once getting a girlfriend a worm farm. She loved gardening, and the little garden we had, so I thought long and hard about something that would be a fun gift, but also would fit in with that. Obviously she knew what plants and flowers she wanted, so I didn't want to intrude on that, and I came up with the idea of a worm farm for producing good compost. I still maintain she liked it, sort of, but it's one of these things that you look back on and think 'yes, it was quirky, she liked it, but was it really a great gift?' And the answer to that is probably (definitely?!) no. What's more, we didn't set it up right, it rained and got swamped, and all the worms drowned. It was wormageddon.

Any particular present successes?
The last gift I got for my now ex-girlfriend was an outright success (didn't stop her splitting up with me though!). It was for Valentine's Day and I found some earrings that I knew she would absolutely love from
FarFetch, and by now I'd been doing the site for a while, so I had much more confidence in my ability to pick out a good gift. I also made her a Valentine'sDay card out of felt and card, which I'd found whilst researching ideas for the site in blogs. She absolutely loved it, and I massively enjoyed the feeling of doing something different, not hugely expensive, but with loads of feeling in it and getting it right.

What's the best success story you've heard from a customer on the site?
Well, we don't normally get to see the end result, which is a shame, but one person did write to us. It was a guy who had tried to buy his wife good presents in the past - it wasn't that he was a total leave-it-to-the-last-minute person, but he'd just failed in what he'd bought, and she always either hated it or had to take it back. So, through AskHerFriends, he created a list of ideas for his wife's birthday, and one of the gifts was a beautiful handbag from Flights of Nancy, something he'd never have found himself. As an added bonus, her friends said 'yes, absolutely, that totally suits her' - happy days!

What are your top picks for Christmas gifts from AskHerFriends this year?
I'm liking funky lingerie places (Buttress and Snatch, The Knicker Issue, Fleur of England), cool interiors (Nest, Moleta Munro, Coulson Macleod), places to go (Canopy & Stars), accessories (Black.co.uk) and something a little out of the ordinary (Persephone books). 

Clockwise from top left: Coulson Macleod, Nest, Black.co.uk and Persephone Books.
Have you got a Christmas gift list this year, or will you be desperately shopping on Christmas Eve?
There won't be any shopping on Christmas Eve this year for me - my Mum always says what she wants regardless of what I try to do, and there's no girlfriend to buy for...!


As well as answering my nosy-parker questions, the lovely people at AskHerFriends have been kind enough to offer a £30 gift voucher, redeemable against any product on the website, as a Christmas giveaway here on the blog. Thanks guys!

£30 can buy you any of these goodies (most with change!)
Top Row:  iPad coverBurlesque Dinner PlatePuddings Print
Middle Row: Eco Stationer Set, The F.Scott Fitzgeralds, Pop Print Measuring Spoons
Bottom Row: Notes of Appreciation NotecardsSong Bird Printed Bag, The Hour on DVD
To be in with a chance of winning, all you need to do is complete the following two steps:

1. Follow AskHerFriends on Twitter OR 'like' them on Facebook.
2. Leave a comment below to confirm your entry, telling us what you'd buy with the voucher if you won the giveaway.

And that's it! The giveaway will close at midnight on Wednesday 12th December, and the winner will be chosen at random using a number generator.

Good luck!
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16 comments

  1. What a brilliant idea! I've just followed them on twitter, and if I won, I'd be treating myself to a few books from Persephone - their books are so beautiful but I've only ever bought them to give away, never to keep for myself!

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  2. I would choose a knitted tippet with £30 voucher. A cosy, hand crafted treat with vintage appeal. So pretty. x

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  3. I love them and follow them on Twitter and facebook. I'd choose some new stationery- they've got some great brands on board. x

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  4. Clever website! I'm now following them on Twitter. I would get the 'Nice Cup of Tea' iPad cover, because I THINK Jamie is buying me one for Christmas... if he doesn't, well then I'd have to reconsider. Ha.

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  5. A great idea! My boyfriend bought me a hard drive for my computer one year so I'll definitely be pointing him in the direction of this website! I did the quiz on the website based on myself and it picked a Suki teaset that I'd definitely buy myself, so I'd go for that! x

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  6. Forgot to say - I'm following on twitter!

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  7. Brilliant idea! My husband is useless at gift buying and always ends up checking his idea with me first. Oh how I long for a surprise!

    I'm following on facebook. :D

    I would treat myself to a photobook from photobox if I won. My daughter is now 4 and I STILL haven't had any of her photos printed...

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  8. What a FAB website - so very clever :) Following on Twitter :)

    I am torn between SO many great things - loving the Cherry & Vine headpiece, the Holly Francesca Map of London & the Curated Online A-Z of ediable flowers. But - I think it would need to be the Becka Griffin Illustration A-Z of Great Britain - based purely on the E for Eastenders!

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  9. There's so many lovely things on there but I quite like the look of the bare escentuals eyeliner kit! I'm following on twitter :)
    Leanne x
    Leannepaxton@hotmail.co.uk

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  10. My dear wife is impossible to buy presents for so I'll be putting them to the test :-)

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  11. Followed on Twitter and such a brilliant idea....a wok from my husband last Christmas was OK, but could do better : )

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  12. Wow what a fab idea, loved having a look at the gift ideas. I would choose 'Westcountry Cream Tea Basket' always happy to fill my belly with delicious foods.

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  13. I can't pass up a lovely dress....the Audrey dress is so pretty! I'm following on Facebook. Thanks for sharing! Xx

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  14. What a great idea! just looking at the pictures you have added, i am LOVING the bird printed handbag and I also like the Pop Print Measuring Spoons! They would definitely come in handy here!

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  15. Eeeek! Such a great idea for a shop - and I love that it wasn't a female initiated venture...

    So...I spotted this awesome cushion on there 'Home Sweet Home' by Mellybee. So cute.

    All linked up on twitter & fb too.

    xo

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  16. Love those Pop Print measuring spoons! So many nice things, and what a great idea :) Following on Twitter!

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