YEREVAN — During the most challenging time for Armenians all over the world, two families kept the connection between the diaspora and the homeland alive with an interesting idea: two boxes full of delicious snacks and wearable art pieces that kept hundreds of people busy and helped small businesses survive during the war in Artsakh and the Covid-19 pandemic. Hye Box and Ararat Box, with a simple but powerful concept, were able to diminish the miles and hours of difference to deliver homeland-made products to the US, Canada, Europe and Australia.
Two sisters, twins Elen and Elmira Gabrielyan, founded Hye Box about one and a half years ago as a gift box with Armenian crafts and books for children. “We were thinking that our product will be more useful for children, since many of them never even visited Armenia and knew little about the motherland,” explains Elen. But last year in late October the sisters realized that the same box will be more significant as a family box. The main purpose remained the same: to work with small businesses, entrepreneurs, artisans and artists and give the diaspora the opportunity to keep in touch culturally with Armenia.
Elen is studying computer science at the American University of Armenia. Elmira is majoring in management at the French University in Armenia. The financial part is Elmira’s responsibility. Content creation and marketing is Elen’s passion. “We complete each other as business partners. We came a long way together. Of course, we are having clashes too. We both have strong personalities and always express our opinions. But it’s very interesting working with your twin sister,” laughs Elen.
The sisters co-founded several endeavors before this last one that became their star project. Hye Box is a preference-based platform that allows choosing the box’s content with a specially designed questionnaire, according to the number of people in the family and the presence of children. But the element of surprise still remains. “This way we keep close interaction with our customers and it is very encouraging, with all the kind words and feedback we have received,” says Elen.
Every month the box has a specific theme. February was about St. Sargis, March is dedicated to Armenian women and April will focus on Easter.
“We will try to support Armenian business owners, entrepreneurs and artists. Also, we will include stories of the women who created the products or are famous with some accomplishment,” explains Elmira. Two boxes (small and big) include 6-9 handmade items and children’s books. “For us, it’s important that the customers can have products that are usable on daily basis like jewelry or beauty products. We are also buying some of the products for ourselves — that’s how much we appreciate the local market,” says Elen, smiling.