Katy Aucoin: How to Buy Your Friends and Family Gifts They Don’t Hate

August 1 - Sarah Ashlock

FIRST THOUGHT: Foolproof Gift Giving

Gift giving always seems to be on my to-do list. From holiday gifts to “thank yous,” I always have a running track of what I’m going to give someone next. Some parents I know even stockpile kids’ gifts so they’re ready for the next birthday party. What’s one of the worst presents you’ve given or received? Probably one of the most disappointing is the used bottle of perfume that somebody else didn’t want, or a gift basket full of weight-loss items. Maybe this year we’ll all have better luck.


Plenty of people say they’re flat-out terrible at giving gifts. For those who put a lot of care into the process, it can be a real bummer to not have that care reciprocated. Life Science suggests five ways to make your gift more meaningful, with the kind of “duh” way being getting to know the person well.From there, you can create something handmade or seek out a personalized item. If you’re not very crafty, consider donating to a cool cause in the person’s name or gifting a certificate to a cool locale or an experience they’ll remember.

WOMAN TO WATCH: Katy Aucoin, Founder and CEO of Dearduck

The first part of gift giving—getting to know someone—can be tough when your Secret Santa gift is due before you get the chance to know that person. That’s when Dearduck, the company of today’s Woman To Watch, Katy Aucoin, comes in handy.

Katy, who comes from a strong tech background, came up with the concept after seeing one generalized online gift guide after another. These gift guides are often categorized by gender (for him, for her) or career type (the techie, the chef). Katy knew lumping people together under broad categories wasn’t going to solicit an evocative gift.

She launched Dearduck in 2015 as a way to help us all out with the demands of personalized gift giving. As many as 80 percent of purchases people make are for other people, making Dearduck a pretty genius idea. Here’s how it works: You can download the app and fill out preferences of yours that might seem minute, like what scents you do and don’t like. Then you can invite family, friends and colleagues into what Dearduck calls “gifting circles,” and the app will store your preferences so that when your gifting circle searches for your name, gifts are recommended for them based on your preferences. So, when the time comes for your boss to reward you on Administrative Professionals Day, she can head to Dearduck, type in your name and receive a list of recommended ideas. Chances are you won’t hate the gift she gets you.

Gift personalization can mean a lot in both personal and professional relationships. For Katy, giving a guy she used to date a pair of sunglasses she didn’t want resulted in a dull reaction from him. In business, showing even small acts of gratitude to employees or clients can leave a lasting mark. A paperweight isn’t exactly going to do that, but a great gift can. Just sayin’.

Katy’s revolutionized the act of gift giving, and it all started with spotting a loophole in the market. She’s proving the greatest of business ideas can start with a small observation.


You officially have no excuses for lackluster gift giving, thanks to entrepreneur Katy Aucoin. Journalist Dorothy Day once said:

“The best thing to do with the best things in life is to give them away.”

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