Allie: What brought you to DC?
Blake: I grew up in this area, went to Wootton High School and then University of Florida for college. I stayed at UF for grad school in entrepreneurship/entrepreneurial marketing. I came back to DC to get a job, and interned for Cava Restaurant Group before getting a job at a startup. I stayed because I like DC, I like the vibe. I’m not a New York person.
Allie: As someone who studies entrepreneurship, are you a big “Shark Tank” fan?
Blake: Yes – I love “Shark Tank”. I was in school in 2014, which was the “Shark Tank” era. My house is littered with “Shark Tank” products, whether they’re gifts or things I bought for myself. I’ve always really enjoyed new products and tech.
Allie: Have you put your entrepreneurship skills into action?
Blake: I’ve had a lot of lemonade stands. My latest endeavor is IGiveCoolGifts.com. It’s a one-stop shop for your gift-giving needs. It’s a clean, simple, easy-to-use interface with cool ideas for things your friends could actually use and won’t throw away. I’ve always loved giving gifts. I think if you put in a little effort, it can really make a big impact for someone. On the site, I also give custom gift suggestions. So if you have a wedding coming up, a White Elephant exchange, or a housewarming party – I’m happy to lend my skills. This site has also been a great way to connect with different makers and small businesses who are doing really cool things, and give them a publication to get a little more out there.
Allie: Is gift giving your love language?
Blake: Definitely. I’m terrible at receiving gifts, but I love giving them. Growing up, for birthdays or Hanukkah, my family made it a big gifting thing. My mom celebrates my birthday as a national holiday in her mind. There were always multiple layers of gifts for it. My mom has an art and design background, and my dad has a quirky side – growing up with that led me to want to give cool gifts to people as a way to connect with them.
Allie: What are a few good gift suggestions for a Thanksgiving/Friendsgiving host?
Blake: An electric chainsaw carving knife is fun – I saw this on The Grommet. There’s a company called Muirwood Reclamations, and they do a concrete cake stand. I’d maybe bake a cake and bring it on a concrete cake stand that I’d give as a gift. Or you could give a smart thermometer that goes in the oven, and syncs up to your phone and will tell you when the food is done. Stressed out around family? There’s CBD gummies for that.
Allie: Walk us through your perfect day in DC.
Blake: I’d wake up a little late and grab breakfast at Dupont Market, then go to the gym so I can feel better about the things I’m doing the rest of the day. I’d go to Union Market and spend hours there, then meet up with a friend and explore a new museum or exhibit at the Hirshhorn or the Arboretum. I’ll bring my camera and take photos. I’ll probably take a nap, and then have dinner somewhere low key like Bar Charley. I’d find an Old Fashioned somewhere like Two Birds,One Stone – which is now Destination Wedding. The drinks are still incredible. Then, I’d be home relatively early.
Allie: You mentioned photography in your perfect day. Is that a hobby of yours?
Blake: Yes, I really like photography and using it as a mechanism to explore. I like to bring an actual camera rather than using my phone, because I find that gives me a good excuse to take photos of random things and people.
Allie: What are your go-to ways to relax?
Blake: I play soccer every week through District Sports. I like working out when I can. And I’m a huge movie and TV fan. Right now, I love “Fleabag” on Amazon Prime and “Peaky Blinders” on Netflix. For movies – I just watched “Yesterday”, “Book Smart”, and “Spiderman Far from Home”.
Allie: What’s your favorite Jewish holiday?
Blake: Hanukkah. My family does a big Hanukkah party every year. We do a Secret Selma, which is just a Jewish version of Secret Santa. We pick names out of a hat on Thanksgiving and then exchange gifts during Hanukkah. I take it very seriously. Also, my aunt is a great cook and she makes us a mean red velvet cake.
Allie: What’s on your bucket list?
Blake: I have a list of things I want to accomplish before turning 30 – skydiving, sliding across the hood of a car, tying a bow-tie, traveling to a city alone, and changing a tire. In life, the bucket of my bucket list would be to host SNL. I’d also love to start a business – whether it be opening a restaurant or making a really great product.
Allie: When Jews of DC Gather…
Blake: Someone will know my grandpa or uncle. My uncle is an OBGYN in the area at Capital Women’s Care and there’s always someone who went to him or knows someone who has been to that office.
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