Illena (left) and Dasha Shakov (right) pose with a Parcelly. (Photo by Jordan Mady)
Stittsville resident Dasha Shakov, the 20-year-old CEO of Parcelly, got the idea for her business when she missed a family birthday party overseas.
“A lot of our family is in Russia,” the third-year University of Ottawa business student said. “So we were making this care package to send over and we were thinking ‘why isn’t there an easier way to do this?'”
This question led to the conceptualization of Parcelly, a theme-based gift box company.
Here’s how they describe themselves on their Facebook page: “Send yourself and your besties themed, personalized gift parcels with a celebration inside for birthdays, weddings, bad days and more!”
The key concept of the business? It’s 100% digital. Know someone getting married? If so, you can head to their website and send them a “Getting Hitched” parcel with the click of a button when they officially launch in October. But there’s one more catch. The person sending the package doesn’t get to see the exact contents. They simply pick the theme and Parcelly takes care of the rest.
Elena Shakov, Dasha’s mother, is co-owner of the company. She says the idea of Parcelly is rooted in a family tradition.
“I come from a family background where we hand-made little things for each other and so I appreciate that,” she says, with a strong Russian accent. “Dasha was brought up with the same sort of attitude.”
Illena left Moscow and came to Canada 23 years ago where she married her husband. They met when he was was interpreting for her while she took courses in the United States. She’s a trained electrical engineer and says her solution-oriented education brings creativity to Parcelly.
“I was trained to be creative so that’s the implementation of my background,” she says.
But Illena is adamant about Dasha leading the charge.
“Dasha is the face of the company. Whereas, myself, I’m in the background. I’m in charge of logistics, bookkeeping and accounting. I’d like her to be the face of it because she’s young. She’s well-motivated and I’m here to help,” she says.
The mother-daughter duo has made contact with numerous companies across North America that produce the unique items they’ll use in their parcels.
“The items that we put in, we make sure that it’s not something you can find in a store. They’re creative items that are hard to come by. And put together, they’re curated towards a certain theme,” Dasha says.
They originally wanted to operate locally to start but they may go bigger earlier based on international feedback they’ve received from their website launch. They say hits from places such as Kuwait are repeating themselves on a daily basis.
“It’s a sign that they’re interested, right?” Illena points out.
Parcelly currently has five available themes. But as things progress, they would like to have many, many more.
“There’s so much room for improvement, expansion and new themes. Eventually … people will come on and there’s a theme for everything, no matter what situation they’re in. They can send a parcel and have it be fun, personal and unique,” Dasha says.
Dasha would also love to incorporate a Stittsville touch.
“Another thing I wanted to mention is, if people in Stittsville have any unique products that they’re manufacturing, don’t be shy and contact us because we would love to include some local goodies in our Parcellys for different themes,” she says.
Illena hopes the late nights leading up to launch will fulfill what they’re ultimately aiming to do with Parcelly.
“It’s nice to receive a gift, right? But it’s very rewarding to give a gift. And that’s what we’re trying to do because we’re a solid family and we’d like to send the joy from the bottom of our hearts to brighten someone’s day if they feel lousy, to wish them a happy birthday – just because. It’s a beautiful life and you have to enjoy it.”
Parcelly officially launches on October 1, 2015.