While the Kansas City Chiefs and the San Francisco 49ers battle it out for a win on the field during Super Bowl LIV on Feb. 2 in Miami, Winnipeg entrepreneur Nikki Buchannon will be hoping for similar success in a gifting suite a few miles away.
Buchannon, 43, is the CEO of Ireuse2, a luxury reusable cutlery brand which has been chosen to be part of an official Super Bowl gifting suite held at Bloomingdale's in Miami, co-hosted by the Dan Marino Foundation. Athletes, celebrities and high-rolling influencers who visit the suite will receive a swag bag valued at more than US$20,000, which will include a set of Ireuse2 stainless steel utensils — a fork, knife, spoon, chopsticks and two straws — in a compact carrying case.
It's the kind of PR money can't buy, and Buchannon is thrilled to be included.
"It took us a few days to decide we definitely have to take this shot, so it was like being handed a gift and we chose to unwrap it," Buchannon says, adding she and her husband, Jamie Buchannon, will be driving down to Florida next week for the event.
"DeSean Jackson, Adrian Peterson, Jeremy Piven... I’ve been reading the list (of expected attendees) and trying not to go into fan-girl mode. How am I going to be cool?" she laughs.
Ireuse2 only officially launched at the end of November, but things have been moving quickly for the new business. Before the website was even live, Nikki started a social media page for the product that caught the eye of Cottage Life magazine, which then asked Nikki to bring Ireuse2 to a massive holiday trade show in Ontario a few weeks later.
And it was social media that landed Ireuse2 in the Super Bowl gifting suite as well; through a chain of interactions with followers and influencer collaborations, Nikki's products ended up in the hands of the woman who organizes gifting suites for many major events, including the Super Bowl and the Oscars.
"When we got the email, we were in the hospital because Jamie had something stuck in his throat... so he had just finished getting scoped to remove it so it was one of the worst days ever, and we got that email and it was like, 'Oh my gosh!' and I'm trying not to freak out in the hospital," Nikki says. "And then it was, 'Is this real?' Because everyone is skeptical nowadays, so we went through the process and due diligence and made sure it was right."
Aesthetic appeal and luxurious aspirations aside, Nikki developed her product with eco-friendliness at its core, which, while certainly a trendy topic, is something close to her heart as a former restaurant owner.
Prior to creating Ireuse2, Nikki and Jamie owned and operated four outlets of a fast-food take-out business and were discouraged by the amount of single-use plastics they went through every day in the form of bottles, cutlery and plastic bags. At their restaurants, they made the switch to reusable take-out containers but, Nikki says, it was always in the grand plan to figure out a way to be even more green in everyday life.
The pair retired from the restaurant business in September 2019 and immediately started working on Ireuse2; within two months, they had met with suppliers and developed the current line of products and the eco-friendly packaging it comes in, which includes a hard case made from wheatgrass and small, biodegradable plastic bags for each individual utensil.
"We want people to use this every day and eliminate that plastic waste; everybody, every meal, everywhere," says Nikki.
The cutlery sets, which range in price from $57-$59, are available locally at Shelmerdine Garden Centre, Generation Green, Fort Whyte Alive and all three locations of Luxe Barbeque Company.
Erin Lebar is a multimedia producer who spends most of her time writing music- and culture-related stories for the Arts & Life section. She also co-hosts the Winnipeg Free Press's weekly pop-culture podcast, Bury the Lede.