Harry and David, meet Mark and Dan

Founded in 2008 by business partners Dan Nagel and Mark Faulkner, Pleasant Surprises, Inc. began with a simple philosophy: Gift baskets could be a whole lot better.

You'd be hard pressed to find a more unlikely team. Nagel, a former Marine and family man, holds a BS in Information Systems and an MSBA in Entrepreneurship from San Diego State University. After working for several successful start-ups, he ventured out on his own, as he puts it, "I had done some very creative things; made a lot of money for other people, it was my turn".

Faulkner, a musician and visual artist, received a BFA in design from Art Center College in Pasadena, California. After a 20-year career in advertising, he called it quits. "I worked in advertising a long time, the business was changing, I decided to pull the plug and do something else. If someone had said 'something else' would be designing gift baskets I would have told them they were nuts."

It's because of their different backgrounds and unique talents they make a great team. Faulkner puts it this way, "When I met Dan, I knew he was a smart business guy. With his support and my design background, I knew we could create, produce and sell fun, interesting gifts people would want." Nagel adds, "I saw the gift basket market as stale and outdated, and an opportunity to create modern, contemporary gift baskets. Mark felt the same, so we started Pleasant Surprises with that goal."

A dedicated "foodie" and wine lover, Faulkner travels annually to food and gift shows looking for new and interesting products. He says, "Everyone has received a gift basket filled with food that frankly belongs in a wastebasket; I never understood that. Where do people come up with the stuff you find in gift baskets?" Nagel adds, "At food shows we look for vendors just starting out. People with unique products they believe in."

At their studio in sunny San Diego, California, Nagel and Faulkner share the responsibilities of running Pleasant Surprises. Nagel keeps the shop humming on a daily basis, placing orders and seeing to the needs of their diverse range of clients. Faulkner manages marketing, design, and photography for the website, catalogs, and corporate proposals. Nagel comments, "Mark and I make a great team. If a client calls wanting gifts for the holidays, an event or meeting, I get the facts; he designs the gifts, takes pictures and pulls together proposals. I do the boring stuff - logistics, billing Faulkner has all the fun."

Faulkner notes, "We do have fun; gift baskets should be fun. We knew we could build a company that made gift baskets better and that's what we did."

To learn more, call Pleasant Surprises at 619-299-4438 or email us at sales@pleasantsurprises.com