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Jeevan Punj

Jeevan Punj is director at Telford-based Elite Hampers, and regional lead for the Federation of Small Businesses in Shropshire, Herefordshire and Worcestershire.

WHAT DOES YOUR JOB INVOLVE? Creating professional food and drink hampers to help add value to business relationships by showing appreciation through gifting.

HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN IN YOUR CURRENT JOB? Two years, although I have been enjoying gifting since childhood.

HOW ARE YOU IMPACTED BY THE RECENT UNCERTAINTIES IN THE ECONOMY? In such a turbulent economy, it’s important to be able to adapt and create new opportunities. In a short two-year period, we have adapted to significant price increases in raw materials and delivery charges. We have looked into more sustainable products and ways of delivering.

HAS THE FALLOUT FROM THE PANDEMIC CREATED ANY NEW OPPORTUNITIES? Yes . . . This is how this business came about in the first place. Prior to the pandemic, I was a qualified optometrist and had been testing eyes in Shropshire for around 15 years. The pandemic resulted in temporary optician closures during which time I explored my creative side, and it encouraged me to create a business from the ground up. If it hadn’t been for the pandemic, maybe Elite Hampers would have remained just an idea!

ARE YOU STILL MEETING ON ZOOM/TEAMS ETC, OR BACK TO FACE-TO-FACE NETWORKING? Both online and face-to-face networking, although I prefer the latter.

HOW DO YOU HOPE YOUR COLLEAGUES WOULD DESCRIBE YOU? Supportive, creative, empathetic and honest.

HIGHLIGHTS OR MILESTONES OF YOUR CAREER SO FAR? Being given the role of Regional FSB Lead; I was a guest speaker at the FSB Bootcamp in Shropshire in October. We have become official gift suppliers for the national Dyslexia Awards, attended numerous expos, accumulated 5-star Google reviews and recently been on Shropshire Business Live TV. Lux Life Magazine confirmed we were winners of their “Perfect Gift Awards 2023” and that we were awarded “Best Online Food and Drink Hamper Business 2023”. 

ANY PARTICULARLY FUNNY STORIES DURING YOUR CAREER I was talking to a businesswoman about Elite Hampers, how I personalise corporate hampers and why I enjoy it. I then mentioned my background as an optometrist. Her immediate reaction was: “I thought I knew you from somewhere!” I had tested her eyes! I’ve confused a few other local people since!

PET HATES? Working in clutter

IF YOU COULD GO BACK AND GIVE YOUR YOUNGER SELF SOME WISE ADVICE, WHAT WOULD IT BE?Comparison is the thief of joy, so always be yourself. Don’t waste time imagining the future or suffering the past, live now. Read “If” by Rudyard Kipling.

HOW DO YOU RELAX AWAY FROM WORK? Go on long walks, meditate, and have “coffee dates” with my five-year-old son. I really enjoy making hampers and sometimes I go to “relax” in my workshop!

WHAT DO YOU BELIEVE IS SPECIAL ABOUT THE SHROPSHIRE BUSINESS COMMUNITY? It’s inclusive, supportive, and genuine. I’ve met some amazing people who have used my services, referred my services, and invited me to numerous networking opportunities.

TELL US SOMETHING ABOUT YOU THAT MOST PEOPLE PROBABLY WOULDN’T KNOW. I can speak basic A-level French and enjoy learning new words on my Duolingo app.


Book: Inner Engineering by Sadhguru

Film: The Lion King

CD: The Golden Collection Duets of Lata Mangeshkar and Mohammed Rafi

FIVE DREAM DINNER PARTY GUESTS, DEAD OR ALIVE? Sadhguru, Celine Dion, Walt Disney, Mahatma Gandhi, and Albert Einstein.

WHAT WOULD YOU COOK FOR THEM? Tofu vegetable curry made with coconut milk served with fried rice. Dessert would be warm chocolate brownie and custard (yum!).

AND FINALLY . . . WHAT DO YOU THINK THE NEXT 12 MONTHS HAS IN STORE FOR YOU, AND YOUR BUSINESS? We have seen growth in our second year of trading, and we hope to expand our premises to accommodate increased demand. We will continue to create professional gifts for employees and clients and are already working with our suppliers to add a new range for this year.