Merced County Times Newspaper
The Power of Positive Press

Online gift shop is a comfort in tough times

Business owner Jennifer Halpin showcases products with a positive theme from her online gift shop during a recent pop-up event in Merced.
Business owner Jennifer Halpin showcases products with a positive theme from her online gift shop during a recent pop-up event in Merced.

Jennifer Halpin of Merced  has always had an interest in helping others.

Her passion for making a positive impact on her community led her to expand her career beyond the work she did in local and regional government, and now as a private recycling consultant for municipalities, to open an online gift shop with a positive theme: DYB (Do Your Best).

Halpin told the Times, “My idea for my business was conceived in 2016.  I went to the Summit of Greatness in Columbus, Ohio. I almost hesitated because it was my first time in the Midwest, and I was going alone. But I was grateful I took a chance, because I was surrounded with so much positivity during the entire summit because of people from different parts of the world sharing a connection of human strength.”

The Summit of Greatness is based on the Lewis Howes’ podcast and book, called The School of Greatness, where he interviews people about stories they want to communicate to the world to help others recognize their own greatness. At the Summit, he presented a group of speakers he had previously interviewed on his podcast.

Halpin explained, “I noticed the theme of every speaker was that even if you’re going through or have been through adversity, your mind set is what determines how you’re going to overcome and grow from it.

“I thought it would be cool to start something that would promote positivity and having a mind set of doing your best, since the mind set is what determines actions.

“Before I went to the Summit of Greatness again in 2017, I decided to open a gift shop with inspirational signs, accessories and other items with a positive message on them, so that people could see it throughout the day.

“Like a friend shared with me, someone who loves animals could look out into a pasture and see horses and feel peaceful and tranquil, and I wanted to find things people could see throughout their day that could bring joy and positivity, to foster that positive mind set.

“I started the business by pulling together products from different companies that showed positive thinking and a positive attitude, and I brought them onto my website.

“I called my business DYB, Do Your Best, because what’s important is your own path, passion or dream of what’s right for you. There’s no point in comparing yourself to anyone else. If you try to be like someone else, it won’t work. You won’t find fulfillment.

“I then added S.O.M., State of Mind, to the name and it became ‘Do Your Best State of Mind’ or DYBSOM, which is what my website is called:

“That’s where all the products/gifts can be found.

“I used to attend pop-ups and vendor events pre-COVID times, which helped build the businesses because people could view the items in person and see what the gift shop had to offer.

“I sell home decor accessories, jewelry, weighted blankets, stuffed animals, beach towels — it’s a mix of lots of different items.

“Some of the items are on the website because they’re unique and bring a spark of joy, and others have positive sayings, such as, ‘Love Who You Are’; ‘Never Look Back, You’re Not Going That Way’; ‘Don’t Stress, Do Your Best, Forget The Rest’, and ‘It Always Seems Impossible Until It Gets Done’.

“Another example is a large home decor piece for the wall that says ‘Find Your True North’, which is about finding your own purpose or what guides you on your own path.

“I have twinkle jars, and it reminds me of when people put lightning bugs in a jar. This product features LED lights in a jar with positive sayings like ‘Keep Shining Beautiful One, the World Needs your Light’; and ‘Faith Shines Brightest in the Dark’.

“An example of a unique gift is our Flower Bracelet, which has real flowers preserved inside clear resin.

“Also, I knew I wanted to give back to the community, so that’s why my website shows the organizations I give to.  For every product on the website, it shows what percentage of the proceeds goes back to which organization.

“The first organization I knew I wanted to give back to is the Valley Children’s Healthcare Foundation, so I became a registered vendor of theirs and up to 20 percent of the net proceeds from customers’ purchases benefits the Foundation.

“I wanted to give back to Valley Children’s because of my gratitude for their care of my son. When my son was born, he needed to be resuscitated and sent to Valley Children’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) in Madera. He was in the NICU for a few days before I could see him back in Merced, and he had to return later on for a CAT Scan.

“The staff welcomed us at Valley Children’s with upbeat attitudes and compassion. I had always given to the fundraisers benefitting Valley Children’s, and after having first-hand experience with them, I knew I wanted to give back to them. So many kids have received or are currently receiving care there.”

“Another way of giving back to Valley Children’s is our Buy One Give One Program, where every stuffed animal purchased includes a separate stuffed animal donated to a Valley Children’s Hospital patient. Delivery of the stuffed animal donations is at the end of the year. To date, we’ve donated 376 stuffed animals to 376 patients, thanks to customers’ participation in the program!”

“The next organization I give to is the Hope Mountain Foundation. I learned about it from Ellisa Rough, my former co-worker at Merced County Association of Governments when I was a Public Programs Specialist. I learned how Ellisa and her husband, Steve Rough, retired to the Philippines, where they are building houses for kids who need a safe and comforting place to recover from traumatic situations. These kids have been rescued by law enforcement from their own homes due to online sexual exploitation. The stories are so upsetting to hear, and I’m glad Ellisa and Steve are able to offer a loving facility to help build hope within these kids’ hearts.”

Halpin is excited to share with the community what her online gift shop has to offer, as well as the missions of these foundations.

She told the Times, “In the future, I will be looking for a business partner who makes unique, positive message items, so I can offer customized items.”

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