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Laurelbox: Local mom helping women cope with grief and loss

Laurelbox: Tampa based company offers thoughtfully curated gift boxes to help women dealing with loss and grief.

*This article was originally published in the October 2017 issue of Tampa Bay Parenting Magazine.

The sixteenth of July. I never forget a birthday (I never forget his birthday). The house smells like birthday cake, the rich, moist yellow cake of our youth. I can almost taste it. A candle has been lit, but there’s no one to blow it out. We let it burn.  

My brother passed away 28 years ago, but not a year goes by that I don’t celebrate his birthday. I think about him all the days between birthdays, but on this day, we celebrate his life and we remember. This year we started a new tradition: the birthday candle. A small mason jar, soy wax hand-poured over rainbow sprinkles. One burned in my home, the other in my parents, until all that was left was soot glass. Subtle yet commemorative, it was a gift I discovered through Laurelbox. 

Laurelbox is a boutique, online gift company specializing in gifts and gift boxes intended for woman who have experienced loss. The shop offers over 50 thoughtfully curated gifts that are then hand packaged and sent with an inspiring note. Products are either hand-made or sourced from other small, artisan businesses and include items such as candles, linens and jewelry.  

The company was founded by Denise Wolfe and Johanna Mutz, cousins and best friends from Cincinnati, Ohio, and Tampa, Florida. Denise and Johanna witnessed close friends experience the loss of a child and struggled with what to say or send to comfort them during their grief. Denise commissioned an artist to make a print, Johanna had a custom necklace made, but they sought to do more. After six months of product development, Laurelbox was born. Named after the hardy laurel tree, the company’s mission is to “nourish a woman’s heart after loss” and as Johanna states, “support the supporters.”  


The two women, also mothers, oversee every aspect from design to shipping with care. They ensure the customer experience is straightforward and personal. The majority of their customers are a friend of someone who has experience loss, but like myself, there are many individuals who have experience loss more directly and are drawn to their brand. 

Most people have a “second story,” Mutz says. The story may be one that they don’t tell but is an influential part of who they are. Because friends often struggle with what to say or what to do, those grieving tend to hide their stories not wanting to cause an uncomfortable situation. However, the truth is that many wish to be asked about the loved one passed who may be lost but not forgotten.  

Giving their customers a platform to share their story, Denise and Johanna launched “Motherhood Rewritten: Stories of Mothering Outside the Norm.” The campaign shares the stories of 30 unique women. Stories included infertility, miscarriage, loss and adoption, among others.  LaurelBox

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