When Barbara Litwin was a little girl she ripped out pictures of trinkets she thought were fun or funny in the “Best Bet” section of her favorite New York magazine. “I didn’t really do anything with them,” said Litwin with a laugh, “it was before the internet. We did what we had to do to occupy ourselves.” Who knew her childhood game would eventually turn into an online business called Sense and Humor?
A source for unique and funky finds, offering a product mix of fun and creative home gifts and accessories, the inspiration for the business came from an idea she had of creating holiday guest towels around Passover. “I just felt like there weren’t any fun things around the Jewish holidays in general,” said Litwin of Newton. She decided to print 1,000 guest towels embroidered with “Let My People Go” in red and see how her sales went, promoting it on her personal Facebook page. “The sales went off the charts,” said Litwin.
She brought her towels to local temples, the Israel bookstore, and her business grew from one product in April 2013 expanding to over 300 products today. “There’s really no place where someone can go to get nice gifts or fun gifts,” said Litwin. She creates and sells various trinkets, including house gifts, accessories, baby clothes, candles, and cards. Among them are challah salt and pepper shakers, Orthodox chews, and a bumper sticker she designed herself that says, “Nothing Good Comes From Hitting Reply All.”
Her business started out with the local community as her client base, but now she has had orders from places like London and China. “It has been so supported in Newton and beyond,” said Litwin. Growing up in an affluent area, similar to Newton, she has found a client base of affluent people who are interested in the acquisition of unique trinkets like the products she sells. She finds her items at an annual New York gift show she has known about from growing up there, as well as her very own creations. “This is just a little window into my very active mind,” said Litwin.
“I just love having people smile,” said Litwin. As her business expanded, she created a website and wrote up a business plan. She often does gift shows at parties, most recently at Temple Emanuel in Newton last Sunday. “It’s been incredibly successful and rewarding,” said Litwin. She has now become a source in the Newton Jewish community where people can go to find gifts; for example, if a group traveling to Israel is looking for something small for their host family.
Her busiest time is the fall season around the holidays. “People are looking for that little sense of fun,” said Litwin. But something she learned along the way is that she can’t limit her buying to only items that she finds funny. “I do have to open myself up a little bit because obviously we’re all different and not everybody has my sense of humor,” said Litwin.
From a little girl growing up in New York cutting up magazines to an adult businesswoman, it would appear that Litwin has found her calling. “It’s one of those things like when people take all these Briggs Myers tests about what they want to do in life,” said Litwin. This was her passion as a kid, according to Litwin, and it carried into adulthood. “I feel like at this stage in my life I finally discovered my path.”
Check Barbara Litwin’s website at www.senseandhumor.com.