Paula and Randy Slof offer the perfect ekuBOX.
Randy and Paula Slof are certainly thinking inside the box these days. With the holidays in full force, the husband-wife founders of ekuBOX have been ramping up their extensive product line of more than 70 curated, luxury gift boxes to include four unique Chanukah gift packages.
Pronounced “ee-koo,” ekuBOX stands for eat, keep and use and was launched right before the pandemic.
“I always say that we don’t send gift boxes, we send experiences,” says Chief Gift Guru Paula Slof. “When everyone was in lockdown, our food gift boxes were very popular because people were worried about shortages, and parents would have them sent to their kids who were stuck quarantining.”
Though ekuBOX is their newest company, the Slofs have developed a niche for online luxury. In 2012, the Slofs launched Paula & Chlo. Named for Paula and their Australian Shepherd who passed away this year, Paula & Chlo is an online clothing and accessories store specializing in cashmere.
“My mother always loved high-end fashion and buying purses. She had a Judith Leiber collection. Paula and I are gift-givers, and we’re always searching for the best quality gifts. We realized that we wanted our own retail site, and it kind of metamorphosed into Paula & Chlo,” said Randy, who lives in Franklin with Paula.
While Paula is Catholic, she always called Randy’s mom her own Jewish mother.
“My mother-in-law and I were very much alike,” Paula says. “The fashion part just resonated with both of us. She and I shared a love of handbags.”
And a love of food. In fact, that’s how Paula and Randy’s families became good friends. Beginning in 1972, Randy and his parents, Marvin and Barbara Slof, would often come to Peppina’s Ristorante in Lincoln Park, owned by Paula’s family. Paula was 11 at the time and Randy was 9.
Over the years, it went from a 16-table restaurant and drive-in to a 250-seat, full-service restaurant with three dining rooms. People came from all over the country to enjoy their signature from-scratch pizza and pasta dishes. After 48 years, it closed, following a roof collapse in 2001.
In the ’60s, Marvin, Barbara and Randy Slof lived in Northwest Detroit. A local celebrity of sorts, “Marvin the Ice Cream Man” was especially adored on Saturdays when he gave out prizes to the neighborhood kids.
Over time, Peppina’s employees would try to fix up Randy and Paula.
“Our relationship was a lot like the movie When Harry Met Sally,” Paula laughs. “Eventually, we realized that we were meant for each other.”
After 34 years, they finally got married in 2006 by Rabbi Sherwin Wine at the Birmingham Temple.
Wrapped with Love
From early on, the search for the ideal gift has been a welcomed challenge for Randy and Paula, an art that they have creatively perfected with ekuBOX.
“Randy and his parents were always searching for fabulous food items to bring us at Christmas and Easter, hoping that we wouldn’t already have them as restaurant owners,” says Paula, a self-professed food forager.
Her experience as a restauranteur lends itself well to the gourmet ekuBOX packages, which include an olive oil dipping set, Spanish paella and tapas set, truffles, breakfast baking and, of course, a Taste of Italy set with a Bolognese meat sauce made by a chef in Italy and an olive wood parmesan grater. And there are also gift boxes for your favorite wine, coffee, bourbon and tea drinker.
For Chanukah this year, ekuBOX has four themed packages that feature eight nights of fun, games and goodies like hand-dipped beeswax candles, kosher Belgian chocolate gelt, decadent cookies, candy and Israeli-made halva.
“That’s a nod to my dad who took me to Stage Deli when I was a little kid and he would always buy me the halva, which I loved,” Randy says.
“We created ekuBOX because we knew there had to be a better way for upscale gifting. It needed to be a stand-alone company of just curated gift boxes. What makes us so different is that our boxes are themed, and our goal is to give everyone an experience that makes sense,” Paula says.
The gourmet ekuBOXes arrive exquisitely packaged with fresh rosemary grown by Paula as one of many special touches. Spa packages are adorned with fresh eucalyptus and dried rose petals. And all gift sets, at both ekuBOX and Paula & Chlo, are wrapped in a signature box with a satin ribbon and hand-tied mini lavender bouquet.
“Our packaging really shines,” says Randy, who includes a handwritten note with a handmade, old-fashioned wax seal with every package. “And for every box we sell, we have a tree planted wherever in the world it’s needed. We like to say that we’re planting a forest, one ekuBOX at a time.”
With more than 70 themed boxes to choose from, ekuBOX prices range from $59-$375, with a gift package for pretty much anyone or any occasion — hostess, gardener, employee, foodie, baby, yogi, sibling, bride, grad, family, pet lover and one, aptly titled for the early Chanukah season, “Stressed Out.”
And, if you don’t see one online, Paula and Randy will customize a box for you as they did recently for Beaumont’s remote Red Tie Ball, Capitol Records and Netflix.
“The whole point of ekuBOX is for us to shop, research and do all the work for you,” Paula adds. “For us, the greatest satisfaction is sending out great, beautiful products that make people happy.”