Widgets Magazine

Chatting Entrepreneurship and Celebrating local Artisans with North Fork Gift’s Nicole Tumilowicz

Q: What is North Fork Gift? A: North Fork Gift is essentially the Amazon of the North Fork. It is an ecommerce site where you can get products locally made by artisans on the North Fork of Long Island.

I created North Fork Gift out of my love and pride for the East End of Long Island. My family and I live in Wading River and we spend our weekends on the North Fork. At holidays and other times I wanted to give family and friends gifts representing the Fork’s small businesses and artisans, but there was no easy way to do it.

The site is a celebration of local businesses and artisans out here on the North Fork in one accessible spot. We specialize in unique and custom gift baskets. I love getting to know the people behind the businesses and we showcase their stories on our home page. On our blog and on Facebook we will also be posting their stories and documenting our visits and adventures around the North Fork.

Q: Which businesses’ products do you include?

A: Starting up, we have some really cool businesses onboard, and we continue to add more every week. We have North Fork Roasting Company—small batch coffee roasters in Southold. They have a cute coffee and tea shop, and sell coffee by the pound too. It’s founded by two nice women—Jennilee and Jessica—and if you go in you’ll see them working there, along with their dog Sinatra.

Another company is A Taste of the North Fork. Jeri Woodhouse’s really well known for her jams and jellies, pestos and other culinary treats. She also markets the Moroccan spice cHarissa, which was developed in her kitchen. She and her Production Manager, Mike, really capture that farm to table freshness in everything they jar.

Small Best of NoFo

I also found these nuns who make really great soaps, candles, lip balms, bug repellent, and other wonderful products. Their brand is All for Nun, and they make them at All Saints Monastery, a Female Greek Orthodox Monastic Community in Calverton. Who knew?!

I also work with Laura from Blossom Meadow—she’s the Queen Bee, she has like 8 million bees. She makes this really neat lotion bar out beeswax and other ingredients. She also uses beeswax for specialty candles, like for kids’ birthdays--dinosaurs and robots. She is wonderful to work with and is very passionate about what she does.

We also feature the North Fork Chocolate Company. Ann and chocolatier, Steve, handcraft small batch artisanal chocolates. She has these really cute s’mores pops, brownies on a stick and chocolate bark in addition to her truffles and chocolates.

We showcase many other eclectic Artisans as well, and are speaking with new ones all the time. For example, I’m speaking with Backyard Brine. They make artisanal pickles and have some really cool flavors, such as Dill Death Do Us Part and We Go Together Like Bread & Butter. Pickles are Randy and Cori’s passion. Soon we’ll be expanding into North Fork merchandise, like t-shirts and jewelry.

Q: So do you just promote their products, or do you offer something specifically North Fork Gift?

A: I sell pre-arranged and custom gift baskets, as well as the individual products. Standard popular gift baskets are “Bailie Beach Beauty”, named after a beach in Mattituck and the “Best of the North Fork” sampler. People can go to the site and browse the products and create their own baskets, or buy the individual products. Although it is super easy to create your own basket (just click off the individual products, then choose a basket), I recommend they call to discuss the best options- some of the items might be best suited for local delivery, such as the chocolate.

Bailie Beach Beauty

Essentially we’re a marketplace for the North Fork. I’m curating the many wonderful North Fork products all in one spot. Most people don’t have the luxury of running around to all the stores here. For example, I have a lot of friends who come out from Manhattan in the summer, and when they go back in the city they have no way to get these products, so I provide a centralized way for them. The baskets also make a great housewarming gift for summer rentals. Someone just sent a basket to their Dad who moved from the North Fork to Florida and was missing his favorite treats.

Q: Why did you start North Fork Gift?

A: I felt the need personally, because it was a service I wanted to use but it didn’t exist. So that’s why I did it. We often get themed gift baskets from Hawaii or Vermont or wherever, I thought the North Fork also deserved that recognition.

We just launched a few weeks ago. We’re using newsletters and social media such as Facebook to gain recognition. So far the business has been very well received; everyone I’ve spoken to is really excited to be a part of it. And there’s been a lot of interest from consumers too—there really is a need for this.

Best of NoFo

Q: Congratulations on the launch! Is this a totally new venture to you, or is this normally what you do?

A: Thanks! My background is in sales, but ecommerce is new to me. My husband and I have other companies, but this is my main focus right now. I’ve always had the entrepreneurial spirit. If I see a niche that needs filling, I’ll do it. My passion is networking and collaborating. That’s why I wanted to share the profiles of these entrepreneurs. Also I like the idea of shopping locally and supporting small business.

Q: What’s your connection to the North Fork?

A: I’ve been in Wading River about 13 years; I grew up in Setauket, and have been coming out East my whole life.

Why the North Fork? The people. It’s a nice community. It’s very chill, it’s laid back. These artisans’ stories, just driving around the farms, talking to people - I really just enjoy it.

Q: What makes a product North Fork Gift-worthy?

A: First and foremost it needs to be produced on the North Fork. Then it needs to be unique, appealing, high quality--something I would buy on a regular basis. I mean, I won’t turn any North Fork artisan away, but in my outreach, that’s what I’m looking for.

Like North Fork potato chips—they’re made from potatoes they grow right here. The Sidors have been potato farmers for more than 100 years, it’s what they know. Why would I want potato chips made from Idaho potatoes?

Q: If someone has a great product they’ve crafted here on the North Fork but hasn’t connected with you yet, how should they be in touch?

A: They can email me at northforkgift@gmail.com, contact me on my blog @ www.northforkgift.com, call me @ 631-625-0401, or find us on Facebook. We’d love to hear from you – show us your North Fork Style!