We’ve all experienced it – 10am on Christmas morning, after the flurry of unwrapping presents winds down, there – off to the corner of the living room – a big pile of lovely gift wrap, all destined for the trash. What a waste. If only there was an alternative, you think. Well, thanks to a Maui-based newly-titled business owner, there is.
Sara Smith founded Wrappily in 2013, a gift wrap company that makes eco-friendly wrapping paper on recycled (and recyclable) newsprint with soy-based inks. Sara was kind enough to take time out to answer some of MauiMade’s questions:
Maui Made: Where did you come up with this idea?
Sara Smith: I originally had the idea five years ago. It probably came to me in the shower, where most of my bright ideas strike. It’s inception was situational: I’d just left a demanding job of over 8 years, and I had no plan. My creative space was wide open. Simultaneously, it was a time when many in my peer group, myself included, were getting married and having babies. I was inundated with these heavy gifting events, showers, weddings, baby luaus. The cumulative wrapping paper waste really burdened me! But, life got in the way. I had two kids and the idea was shelved. I assumed by the time I could get to it, someone would have done it. Last year the idea and the space to do it appeared in a really obvious, clear way. I couldn’t NOT act on it at this point.
MM: Where is the paper being printed?
SS: To start, I’m printing and distributing here in the Hawaiian islands. It’s been great using Hawaii as my beta market. The expansion plan is to duplicate this model in new markets as our economies of scale improve.
At it’s core, Wrappily is all about creating a shorter, more localized supply chain. The concept of using newspaper presses to produce gift wrap comes down to the practicality that these presses are available just about everywhere. And of course, newsprint is so easily recycled everywhere, too.
Stop to think about the resources consumed by conventional gift wrap printed in China then shipped around the globe. Multiply that times just about everything we use on a daily basis and it is ghastly! These goods are sold so cheap, but at such a great expense to the environment.
MM: What’s the most surprising thing about starting your new business?
SS: One of my early mentors warned, ‘prepare for a lot of painful personal growth.’ In reflecting on the last year, he couldn’t have been more right. The path of entrepreneurship is just a series of battling your own beasts, whether it’s insecurities, time management or inefficiency issues, or self-imposed limitations. All momentum is yours to make, but the rewards are yours, too. I actually see this escalating as the stakes get higher. I won’t lie—some days I think, Just kidding, I want to go back!
Luckily, the second most surprising thing I’ve discovered is just how much help is out there. I’m continually amazed at how generous people are with their time and talent when they sense you are authentic and committed.
MM: What’s the best part about running a business on Maui?
SS: Hands down, it’s the relationships and support network our community provides. People here really want you to succeed. In Hawaii, when you need to reach out to new resources, no one is six degrees of separation—more like one or two and you are sitting in their lap!
MM: What’s next for Wrappily?
SS: A lot of growth. We’ve been concentrated on Maui, so early in the year we’ll be expanding to other islands. By mid-year we plan to cross the pond and break into our first mainland market. We’ll be expanding our product line with new pattern collections and exploring the versatility of the paper in crafts, etc. The brand, too, is expanding. We are experimenting with eco-crafts/ DIY-themed pop-up events on Maui and have received a great response.
Maui Made Note: You can sign up for the upcoming Wrappily Pop-Up Crafing Events (space limited) at this link: http://www.wrappily.com/blog/2014/1/8/wrappilys-pop-up-events
Ladies Love Valentines: Sparkling Wine + Chocolate + Crafting with the Ladies! February 8, 2014, 5-7pm at Pearl Butik in Paia, $25, 21 and over only
Our Kind of Garden Party: Start your own Garden! March 16, 2014 11am-1pm, Maui Tropical Plantation, $25.
MM: Where can people buy Wrappily on Maui?
Follow Wrappily on Facebook
Love the pictures? Styling and photography of most images by the talented ladies at Hue, the interior design and home furnishings store.