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How this Kansas City business helps busy holiday shoppers press pause

A woman in a coat and beanie stands behind a table. On top of the table are mugs, boxes of tea, and cardboard boxes filled with various products.
Savannah Hawley-Bates
KCUR 89.3
Joy Broils thinks people need a little help to rest. She hopes her curated gift boxes do just that.

Joy Broils is dedicated to helping others find time to unwind. With the holiday season in full swing, she hopes her curated gift boxes push people take time for themselves.

As a former attorney and entrepreneur, Joy Broils was accustomed to a hectic, on-the-go lifestyle. She was forced to slow down when a car accident left her with a double concussion and brain injury.

“My doctors told me; ‘You have to slow down to, like, two hours of work a day,’” Broils said. “That's terrifying.”

After she struggled to find ways to pause while healing, Broils decided to re-enter the business world — this time to help people find what they like to do to relax.

“As I was slowing down and trying to pause, I was telling people about my story and they were all saying it causes so much anxiety to slow down. And I thought, ‘OK, we need to start talking about this,’” she said.

So, earlier this year, she founded Hustle & Ground, which curates themed gift boxes using local and regional products in an effort to help people unwind.

There’s “The Unwind Box,” which has a tin of loose leaf tea, a mug, a goat milk lotion foot stick, a bath bomb and a bag of pretzels. “The Holiday Box” includes coffee, a bag of popcorn, a bag of pretzels, a box of peanut butter bombs and a bag of pistachios.

Broils said she’s always thinking of ways to create new boxes.

“The themes are all about finding what you like to do to pause,” she said. “I definitely want it to be intentional. I want the people that are receiving it to really use it and take that time to pause.”

Hustle & Ground sent out its first box in May and has grown a lot in the following months.

A stack of soft green cardboard boxes are filled with popcorn, candy, fuzzy socks, coffee, lotion, and other assorted products
Savannah Hawley-Bates
KCUR 89.3
Broils curates all of her boxes with local products. She said a sale for her should also help other business owners in the area.

On a cold December day in the City Market, Broils sold boxes from her corner stall — a heater tucked away behind her table. Broils continually found ways to connect with others braving the elements.

As customers rushed to finish buying gifts, Broils offered them a chance to pause at her stall and discover a way to help themselves and those closest to them.

She said participating in vendor markets, like the Strawberry Swing’s Holiday Swing at City Market, is big for Hustle & Ground. She didn’t plan to attend all four weekends of the market, but, as she continued to sell boxes and talk to new customers, Broils couldn’t help but come back.

“Weekend two we had a customer come, and she bought a couple of boxes for people on her list,” Broils said. “She came back in weekend three and said, ‘I shipped them all, and everybody was so excited.’ That means so much to me because we took care of her and her list.”

“To get that feedback has just been incredible,” she said.

Events like the market help Broils increase her visibility beyond her website, Facebookand Instagram. They also help her connect with other local businesses.

She collaborates on many of the products that make up Hustle & Ground boxes with businesses like Maps coffee and Popculture Gourmet Popcorn. Broils currently partners with around 10 brands, and she insists that every new item she adds to a box is a sale for someone else in the area.

“If we don't support our local businesses, we are going to wind up with strip malls and big-box stores,” Broils said. “I love that we're supporting local. I know the businesses that I work with, I know what it means to be able to partner with them. I know their families. It is so important to know that, when you order a box from me, I have to go and order more products from my vendors. That's huge.”

Broils stresses the importance of relaxation outside of the holiday season, too. She said the boxes are perfect for birthdays, teacher gifts or just a random gift for someone who needs to take time for themselves. She also plans to make a Valentine’s Day box.

And as Hustle & Ground grows, Broils continues to heed the message at the heart of her business.

“I had to pause almost overnight after that car accident,” Broils said. “You have to have your pause and know what you like to do and go on that journey to find it.”

When news breaks, it can be easy to rely on officials and people in power to get information fast. As KCUR’s general assignment and breaking news reporter, I want to bring you the human faces of the day’s biggest stories. Whether it’s a local shop owner or a worker on the picket line, I want to give you the stories of the real people who are driving change in the Kansas City area. Email me at savannahhawley@kcur.org or follow me on Twitter @savannahhawley.
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