WHEN social worker Louise Hallo (pictured) went on maternity leave with her first child, she found that leaving the house became a mission.
Hallo was no longer able to visit her friends and family on a whim, which became an especially heart-wrenching problem on the days she wanted to offer comfort or congratulations on certain 'big' life events.
That's when she was inspired to create the first Little Box; an affordable, hand-crafted and delivered package designed specifically to let her friends and family know she was thinking about them, even though she couldn't be there in person.
Now, a few months down the track, Hallo has turned Little Boxes into a booming business idea which seeks to put the personal touch back into gift-giving, without a staggering price point.
"Where I grew up, if something big ever happened in someone's life, the idea was that you would go around and have a cup of tea with that person, and take something small over to let them know that you're thinking about them," says Hallo.
"When I was on maternity leave from social work, I just didn't have that time to get out - so when things happened to my friends and family, whether they were good things or really hard things, I just couldn't get there physically to wish them the best.
"Looking online, I could only seem to find expensive $200 hampers which didn't have much sentimental value, so I wanted to create something simpler and more affordable, yet still quality."
Each Little Box that Hallo creates has a different theme or thought, and includes small gifts such as artisan candles, biscuits or soaps.
Hallo says that tea is also a big part of the Little Box, because of the personal connection that sharing a cuppa can inspire.
"I wanted to create that 'pop in and have a chat' mentality, so there is tea in most of the boxes," says Hallo.
"When you sit down and have a cup of tea with someone, it's almost like a ritual and a cultural aspect of Australia."
Little Boxes has quickly outgrown Hallo's initial expectations.
What was once a gift-giving service between friends and family has now gathered a corporate following, with many companies now using Little Boxes to connect with clients, colleagues and staff.
"The corporate market has come on board very well, which I hadn't initially planned," says Hallo.
"I found that executives want to be able to express sentiment that isn't just a bottle of wine or an expensive hamper, because it doesn't really portray the right sentiment.
"If their clients or staff are going through a rough time and they want to express some good thoughts, that's when they come to me."
Hallo will soon step down from her social working role with the Red Kite charity, where she has worked with children with cancer and their families for the past six years.
She is excited at the prospect of becoming a full time entrepreneur for Little Boxes.
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