Age Old Question – How Did You Learn to Wrap?

I get asked this question a lot- especially when I’m out in the front of our workspace helping make the process of wrapping move smoothly.

This might be on a Saturday morning when we have a crush of customers dropping off items for a wedding or shower. They “drop and dash” home to change and coif and we see them a short while later looking completely different. And are they grateful for our wrap service!

Other times I am holding the fort down for a short time while Annie (our in-studio graphic designer) is off to the printers.

In our store – people talk.

We like to encourage our customers, if they want to stay and wait for their packages to be wrapped, to grab a stool and sit a spell. We offer bottled water and of course, some form of chocolate (really great in the afternoon).

So in our store you have to learn how to “wrap and ‘rap”- because the customer is fascinated with the process they see enfolding in front of them. We teach our new Wrap Artists how to ask questions to get the customer to talk so that we can get on with the wrapping.

So they ask- how do you do wrap like that?

OK- so I make the wrapping process look very easy. Maybe it’s the 16 years of being in this business that makes it look so easy.

I happen to think that it’s like being a highly skilled athlete, who has spent hours upon hours of training. Every step to success is dependant on the “memory” of each muscle, each turn, and each step in order for the “brain” to just take over and do.

And truly, wrapping a box is that- it is a very mechanical process that does require some skill at proportion, math and dexterity.

The fascination then comes from what we do differently than what most people have learned. It’s not typically a big difference, but mostly a “ah-ha” moment realizing that that little trick could come in handy when they might have to wrap a gift on the fly.

So the tricks that I have learned over the years have come from many places.

Probably the most influential in my style was my Mother- she could take random things, add it to a simple bow and a spectacular result would ensue. Her color sense was very keen- she was an artist and a teacher and so she was always at the front of the color curve. As evidence, we grew up in a home with dark green walls. Not fun at Christmas since the tree blended into the wall, so my Father sprayed the tree with artificial white snow. (That’s a whole different story- but it involved our vacuum cleaner, plastic nailed to the garage walls and several nights after dinner spraying!).

I became the family wrapper in my teens as my Mother worked full time- and frankly her enthusiasm for some of this stuff when she had 3 creative daughters allowed her to delegate responsibilities.

Over the years as I worked on building my career, I worked either as a volunteer wrapper for our PTA or was an employee for any retailer that did wrapping.

That is where I learned things about the “economy” of space- you were usually working in a sardine can sized space with limited elbow room.

I learned fast methods of measuring for the length of paper you needed; figured out a speedy way of sizing a box for the items that had to be tissued and placed gorgeously in that box and learned how to protect the bow so it made it to its final destination safely.

I then went home and after my young son was asleep, went into my basement studio to finish my own customers’ gifts – drawing on all the best of all that I had soaked in that day.

Let me tell you speed comes from looking at a pile of packages at 2AM and realizing you better rev up to super sonic speed to get these done.

And practice certainly makes the process go faster.

Bow making is the next step- so read on in the adventures of a WrapArtist.

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