DLISH is building a deeper emotional connection
in a world filled with mass produced, uninspired gifts
while supporting local artisans, farmers and designers
around their traditional know-how.
Forever inspired by food, art and design, DLISH is on a mission to fuel the joyous spark we all remember from unwrapping gifts as little ones. The intrigue. The excitement. The timeless sense of ritual. Founded and curated by Mona Bavar, DLISH is built around the idea of gifting with style. The fully run and operated female business is dedicated to adding much needed emotion to the gifting world while rekindling the possibility of pleasure.
An entrepreneur, curator, creative, aesthete and world traveler who is inspired by the people she meets as well as the places, sights, sounds, tastes and flavors of the places she visits, Mona, enjoys bringing people together through curated experiences packaged in distinctive boxes.
As a global citizen currently living in Milan, Mona is inspired daily by her surroundings and the beautiful Italian way of life. “Having access to the artisans, cuisine and drink of Italy daily encourages me to want to share a bit of ‘la dolce vita’ with others through the products I source for lovers of food, art and design.” Leading a team of vibrant creatives, Mona and her team work closely to source the most unique objects and the most delightful tastes from around the world. She seeks to form relationships with purveyors and artisans (many of whom are women), supporting their small businesses and sharing their goods with the global market.
Born in Iran and raised in the US, Mona believes that the key to breaking boundaries and learning about various cultures and traditions is through tastes shared around the table. “As an immigrants who were bullied by the new world we were living in and trying to adapt to, the table became a refuge for me and my family. We would start every day around the table listening to my father speak of current affairs, and finish the day around that same table, sharing the events of the day while eating the delicious Persian dishes my mother had prepared – unaware of the profound impact these rituals would have on my life.”
In line with this belief, Mona recently launched the DLISH Table, an intimate setting where people from around the world can come together to experience unique tastes, meet people from different backgrounds while sharing stories. Many of these stories can be found in DLISH Magazine, an online magazine dedicated to providing its readers with exclusive interviews with change makers, trendsetters, designers, chefs, scientists and innovators in the world of food, art and design.
In May 2022, together with one of DLISH’s partners, Eleit.it, the DLISH Table officially launched in the enchanting Italian region of Campania. The 2-day event began in the dynamic city of Naples and finished in the picturesque coastal village of Nerano in the Amalfi Coast. The journey included a distinguished group of journalists, designers, culinary experts and artisans who shared the inspiration behind many of the objects that you find at DLISH.
“The DLISH Table is a new way of gifting which allows the gift receiver as well as the gift giver live the story behind the object and tastes. It is my way of paying homage to the emotions that I feel every time I am seated around a table with family and friends, sharing special moments while creating a lifetime of memories – these are precious gifts.”
At the end of the 2-day event, DLISH introduced their new Gift Box, La Famiglia Oliva, which they have done in collaboration with Eleit.it. The multisensory gift box puts together the exquisite and rare DOP extra virgin olive oil of the Amalfi Coast in Italy with three characteristic handmade vessels designed to enhance the olive oil tasting experience while stimulating curiosity. Each is handmade by artisans in the historical center of Naples and invites the consumer to experience the ancient ritual of olive oil tasting.
Of course, like most entrepreneurs, Mona’s journey to finding her joy has not been easy. “I can tell you that my entire journey is and has been a formative lesson which includes both the hardships as well as the rewards.” After receiving her MBA from SDA Bocconi University in Milan, Mona decided to not return the corporate world, but to stay in Italy and pursue her passion – exploring tastes and regions of Italy. Little did she know that her new, rebellious adventure would lead to DLISH. “I remember telling my parents that I was not coming back home to the US, nor was I going to go back to a 9-5 job. You can imagine the shock that they felt.”
Dedicated to her vision, Mona has dealt with naysayers by staying true to her mission of bringing heart back into an otherwise saturated and emotionless gifting market. Her biggest challenge has been finding the right investors who share her vision and passion. “Like most startups we are in need of capital in order to be able to compete in a very saturated market. We do beautiful work and are committed to supporting a community of forgotten artisans, and unfortunately, sometimes, it is hard to get investors to see the importance of investing in tradition, authenticity and history.”
From the beginning DLISH has been aware of the changing world of marketing and has tried to use innovate ideas in their marketing strategy. From collaborations with likeminded partners who share the vision of merging tradition with innovation, to events centered around multisensory experiences where designers and artisans share their stories, to tapping into the NFT and crypto world, DLISH is using innovation and community to revolutionize the gifting industry while injecting emotion into the lifeless industry.
It goes without saying that the current business climate is challenged by many macro factors from logistic issues, proxy wars and food and supply shortages. “Many businesses, including DLISH, are working hard to find alternative solutions to make gifting as seamless and meaningful as possible.” Recently, DLISH implemented a payment plan app, Klarna, which allows customers to pay in installments. They are also launching economical table games such as playing cards, puzzles and more. “We are firm believers that every challenge creates an opportunity, and this, like many other times in history, is a challenging time when many businesses can pivot to meet the changing needs of customers.”
What sets DLISH apart from competitors is the fact that they bringing together high design, and delicious food and drink from around the globe while building a community of local producers, craftsmen, culinary producers and designers to both support their traits as well as share their inspiring stories. “It is very easy to go on Amazon and order a generic gift or send someone a gift card from a conventional brand, but how memorable and delightfully surprising is it when you send a thoughtful, meaningful gift with a profound story behind it and inspirational people producing it.”
DLISH is also making an impact in the corporate gifting world. With a very curated and bespoke concierge gifting service, DLISH works with many Fortune 500 clients, like Pfizer, The Fork, Google to make a memorable impact and increase retention. The response to their unique approach to gifting, has helped successful brands become the center of the conversation “Coming from a corporate background, I understand how important it is to have a strategic gifting strategy that will not only increase retention but will also make your company the center of the conversation.” In addition to corporate clients, DLISH sees the importance of providing bespoke gifting services to an array of customers looking to standout in an otherwise uniform world.
Aside from supporting local creatives and producers, Mona enjoys mentoring and sharing her experience with other entrepreneurs who are courageous enough to ‘take the road less travel’ by following their passions. “I know it is challenging but the journey is more about establishing a successful business or creating a product. It is a journey of self-recognition, of self-awareness. It is during the most difficult challenges that we really understand who we are and what we are capable of. Also, try to never compare yourself to anyone else – just like a seed that cultivates its fruit within itself, manifesting its true nature.”
The future looks bright for DLISH as they prepare for the holiday season with new collaborations, memorable gatherings around the DLISH Table, web 3.0, new products and experiences and much more.
“I am forever grateful to all the people in my life who have given me the experiences, resources and possibilities to share tangible and intangible gifts with the world. I am honored to be able to support a community of creatives, artisans, farmers and designers who give us rare gifts every day of our lives. The precious moments around the table, creating memories, sharing stories, expressing emotions and breaking boundaries are the rare gifts of life – ones that I want to share with everyone.”
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