Cover Story: Gifts That Touch the Heart
by Patty Jo Sawvel
Johnette Shultz lives her life at 90 miles per hour.
As her mother, Carol Hitt, recalls with a laugh, “Johnette went from crawling to running. She used to love running up and down the hallway literally bouncing off the walls.”
However, it was not long before mom redirected all of that energy.
“By the time she was old enough to fold a washcloth, Johnette was helping with laundry. By seven, she helped clean the house and by 10 she could cook a family meal,” Carol said proudly.
Oddly, Johnette did not view these contributions as “work.” This was life. Her mother—a hydraulics specialist in their hometown of Ripley, West Virginia—loved her job even though it involved long hours. Dorothy and Otmer Knopp—Johnette’s godparents—loved caring for their farm and Johnette, while mom was away.
“We were never just sitting,” Johnette recalled. “Our hands were always busy. At home, we would be folding clothes and at Aunt Dorothy’s we would be snapping peas. But that is when we talked.”
These conversations became little gifts that Johnette collected in the basket of her heart. She opened them over and over again as life presented new challenges.
Her mom gave her three gifts of wisdom. First, if you give your word, keep your word. Secondly, if you decide to do something, do it right. Lastly, know who you are, be who you are, and follow your heart.
Aunt Dorothy focused her advice on relationships because she knew that Johnette’s parents had a difficult marriage.
According to Johnette, she advised, “Wait for a partner in your life who likes you just the way you are, who shares mutual respect, and who wants to share your journey.”
With these gifts and her strongly entrenched work ethic, Johnette sped through high school running track, earning college credits, and fully immersing herself in creative drama. She did not act on the stage—she became Stage Manager.
“Johnette helped with scripting, costumes, sets, props—anything that needed to be done and she loved it! I remember one year she and I sewed 21 Indian outfits for the school’s “Annie Get Your Gun” play. She loved working behind the scene,” Carol said.
It was during this time, that Johnette gave her mother what would come to be a legendary gift. Her mom was going through a difficult divorce and had just worked 17 consecutive days without a day off. On the 17th day, Johnette gave her mom a “spa in a basket.”
“This was the first basket I ever made. When mom saw it, she cried. I knew I had touched her heart because my mom ‘never’ cried. I cried too,” Johnette said with fresh tears in her eyes.
Her mom added, “When I came home to that basket, I knew that my daughter was paying attention to me. Everything in the basket was made just for me, from my favorite perfume—Calienté—to the candle, the bath crystals, the lotions, and the bath mitt. That was 22 years ago and I still have that basket.”
Soon after that, Johnette graduated from high school, earned her Bachelor’s degree in nursing, worked as an Emergency Room nurse, then as a private practice nurse, and finally as the manager for a large medical group. All the while, Johnette’s baskets took on a life of their own as friends and family kept spreading the word about her wonderful gifts.
Incidentally, during that time, she found her life partner—Steven W. Shultz—when she was only 22 years old and he exceeds all of Aunt Dorothy’s expectations. Fifteen years ago, they moved to Kernersville.
Fast forward. In 2011, Johnette found herself working by day as a dynamic medical manager, by night as a creator of beautiful baskets, and all the spaces in between were filled with caring for her marriage and the couple’s two children, Samantha and Eric. It was at this busy intersection that Johnette decided to follow her mother’s advice.
“My heart settled on making baskets. I love the joy it brings to the giver and the receiver and I love being a part of that. So I followed my heart and opened a storefront next to The Loop in the Target shopping area,” Johnette said graciously.
Christine Moore, owner of M & M, a meeting and events planning company is glad that she did.
“Johnette creates baskets and other gifting options for my events that have my logo and my branding so that it looks like it came directly from me. She is one of the most intuitive and creative people that I have ever met,” Christine said emphatically.
Emily Phipps, a real estate agent, also invests in gift baskets to warm the hearts of clients. After closing, her clients find a gift basket awaiting them in their new homes. If they are new to North Carolina, it is filled with local goodies like Miss Jenny Pickles, Black Dog grilling sauces, and Old Salem cookies. Baskets have also become Emily’s traditional wedding present. However, Emily has run into two small problems.
Emily laughed and said, “Johnette’s baskets are like little pieces of art and people almost hate to open them. But also, my friends who are not getting married want me to create baskets for them!”
Antonio McCoy—a business coach—has cracked the code on why people love Johnette’s baskets.
“These baskets leave a deep footprint in the heart because when my clients actually consume the coffee, the cheeses, or the fudge—they are engaging their senses of touch, sight, smell, taste, and even hearing—and all of this travels straight to the heart,” Antonio shared.
The fudge that Antonio mentioned is made fresh and onsite.
Tracy Goins, who goes to the store just for the fudge said, “We used to have our fudge shipped in from Emerald Isle, but now we like Johnette’s better. It is smooth and fresh and she has incredible flavors.”
Johnette’s Baskets and More also houses a booming and blooming full-service flower shop. Head florist, Nancy LaTourette, is a soul-mate from New Jersey. Like Johnette, Nancy lives her life at 90 miles an hour. She started arranging flowers when she was only 15, interned with a florist and then bought her own business by the time she was 22 years old. After moving to Kernersville with her husband and children, she brought her 30 years’ experience to Johnette’s.
Nancy has made a hero out of John Mims, an advertising executive. John likes to bring his wife flowers, but he keeps forgetting. Nancy enrolled him in the Flower of the Month Club and now his wife is regularly surprised with awesome flower arrangements.
“My wife does not know that I am in the club, so she thinks I am actually remembering every month,” John said playfully. “But on a serious note, before going to Johnette’s our flowers only lasted a week. Now, they last two weeks or more.”
Johnette also gives back to the community by donating baskets, products, and time to the March of Dimes or Next Step Ministries. This year she donated a huge North Carolina “local” basket to Next Step Ministries—in addition to time and product. Next Step speaks to her heart because it provides safety and a fresh start for mothers and children escaping abusive relationships.
And how does Johnette’s mother feel about her daughter’s new business venture?
Carol said, “I am so proud of Johnette. Creating baskets is something she has loved to do for over 20 years and she has developed the business skills to support it! She is following her heart and being who she is—90 miles an hour!”
More About Us:
Johnette’s Baskets and More
Johnette Shultz, Owner, 22 years’ experience
Nancy LaTourette, Florist, 30 years’ experience
- Corporate or Personal Gift Baskets
- Wedding, Children’s, Hospitality, Anniversary Baskets
- Fresh Fruit, Holiday, or Specialty Gift Baskets
- Full Service Florist—Weddings, Funerals, Parties, Exotic Plants
- Fresh Fudge “South Main Sweets” Made Onsite
- Outlet for Old Salem, Dewey’s Bakery, Miss Jenny Pickles, Black Dog Grilling Sauces
- Delivery Throughout the Triad and Nationwide Shipping
- Custom Orders
- Over 400 Baskets can be Ordered Directly from the Website
1030 South Main Street, Suite P, (Next to The Loop Pizza near Target)
- When shipping fresh food, always ship on Monday or Tuesday to avoid delays in hot warehouses.
- When selecting the color of a gift basket, try to match the wood tones in the home so the receiver can use the basket for years to come.
- To maximize the life of fresh cut flowers, change the water daily, add a drop of bleach to the water, and keep flowers away from heat sources.