Jennifer Salvemini tends to let things evolve naturally. Like her career, which grew organically from years in the New York hospitality industry into an interior design and lifestyle consulting practice. Like moving upstate to a compound in Shokan from the city after scores of weekends visiting. Like her designer-curated, Hudson Valley-sourced, women-made holiday gift boxes, which grew out of a favor to a friend.
Riches of Empire State Gift Baket
“About a year ago, a former hotel colleague randomly said, ‘I’d love to put together a welcome package for some VIP guests, do you think you could throw something together?” she recalls. “I said, ‘Sure, who doesn’t love shopping?’”
As she assembled her prototype gift basket, she began building a web of relationships with Hudson Valley makers and artisanal producers. “I spent a few weekends buzzing around up here, in and out of shops and markets,” she recalls. “And it became this amazing way to meet people. It can be alienating up here with everything so spaced out.”
- Photo: Deborah DeGraffenreid
- Jennifer Salvemini in the space she curated for the 2019 Kingston Design Showhouse.
After she had put together the first basket, she realized that all the products were from women owned or women-owned and -operated business. “I was so impressed by that because it hadn’t been the original intention,” Salvemini says. “I see it as an amazing testament to what is happening up here.”
A hit with the hotel guests and a beautiful “one-stop-shop moment,” as Salvemini refers to them, she realized these baskets would make perfect holiday presents. So this year, she began engaging local makers in limited-run collaborations for her Riches of Empire State gift baskets.
For the holiday season, she’s prepared 50 locally sourced gift baskets, which include provisions and personal care products from HUdson Valley makers Fruition Chocolate, Nightspace, Potter’s Table, Fat of the Land Apothecary, Flora Beauty, The Hudson Standard, and Phoenicia Soap Co., and maple candies from some anonymous “lady in the mountains” all tied up pretty with a ribbon from Silk & Willow.
Each product in the gift baskets—and each maker relationship—is a love affair for Salvemini. Take the Flora Beauty Revive eye serum. “When I met Janette two seasons ago, we struck up this great conversation,” Salvemini says. “She has the sweetest little salon and boutique in Uptown Kingston. I am so impressed that she makes all these products on her property, super small-batch. I can’t get through winter without her Luster oil.” Flora stocks a full line of organic, ethically-sourced, cruelty-free, and vegan beauty care products.
Or the calendula spice bar from Phoenicia Soap Co. “Barbara’s whole family has sensitive skin, and one of her kids was actually having skin issues from cancer treatment, so she first developed the soap to be a healing product for him,” Salvemini says. All of the company’s handmade soaps are suitable for sensitive skin and come in a range of scents from the floral bergamot rose to the vegetal aloe lavender mint.
Salvemini also sings the praises of Anya Ross, who runs Fat of the Land Apothecary. “She is part of a new wave of female herbalists,” Salvamini says. “Anya's quite young, she has a huge Instagram following, and her products are gorgeous and intended for healing. For me, she is representative of this return to traditional plant medicine, another nod to not just to the shifting economy but to the emerging lifestyle change.” Salvemini’s gift baskets include Root Nectar, an adaptogenic honey spread that helps to fortify the adrenals and balance hormones.
And Salvamini’s got big plans for her Shokan property, which is zoned commercial. Organic transition into project that was on my plate but down pipeline. Forced me into making connections and relationships.
“It was always my idea to transition it into something like a lifestyle destination, I’m still trying to formulate what that means,” she says. “This project served as an organic transition into a project that was on my plate, but down the pipeline. It forced me into making connections and relationships and seeing what kinds of things I would be interested in carrying.” She has visions of a cafe and provisions market with local goodies, a small flower stand, a design showroom and studio featuring local makers and designers, an event space. “I see the space as a destination for all my aesthetic sensibilities housed in one really lovely place. The intention is to create a space for community building, education, and celebration.” And she plans to call it Hinterland.
The Riches of Empire State gift basket is available for purchase online for $180. Salvemini will be organizing local pickup points and for those farther, shipping.