Avenue Wrapping began as a love for personalized gift-giving for Vanessa West, but it soon evolved into a gift-wrapping business based out of her Memphis home. “My niche is personalized. So if you were to come to me and say, ‘Oh, I have a wedding’, I wouldn’t just ask you ‘What are the colors?’ I’m going to wonder what does the bride like, does she have a favorite color, is there a sentiment behind the gift that you want to portray?” Detail is Vanessa’s bread and butter. The creativity that it allows her brings her closer to the client and gives her a better understanding of the job she needs to accomplish.
Vanessa and her husband are not originally from Memphis, but moved here a year and a half ago for his job. Vanessa told me that she was a bit hesitant at first. But Vanessa and her family quickly realized that they had nothing to worry about. Memphis is a city brimming with art and culture. As a way to get to know her neighbors, she offered to do their gift-wrapping for the holidays. One thing led to another and more people started asking her to gift wrap their presents. Eventually, this led to Vanessa being contacted by Saddle Creek for a partnership deal, where she now wraps gifts during the holidays for shoppers.
When you wrap gifts for a living, you have to love wrapping paper. Vanessa uses many different types but she loves using artist-designed patterned wrapping paper. “I think it in itself is art and I like supporting small business and most of the pattern designers are women, so supporting women owned small businesses. I love being able to incorporate that little piece into my small business.” As well as using patterned paper, Vanessa likes to use a certain weight/thickness of paper. She told me that it makes a difference in appearance. For example, there are less wrinkles and the lines are more crisp than if you were to use thinner paper. Her favorite papers to use are Masu Creative Papers, Wrappily, and March Party Goods.
We also talked about any fond childhood memories she had around wrapping. She told me about how she didn’t have memories of wrapping when she was a child, but more so when she was an adult. Vanessa told me about a long time friend of hers and the wrapping parties that they used to have. “We would do wrapping parties. She hated wrapping, so she would cook and feed me great food and I would wrap all her gifts. And we would just hang out and have fun. And we did that for years. So that, I think, would be my fond memory, but as an adult.” She told me that this friend was actually the inspiration for starting Avenue Wrapping, and without her encouragement, she never would have thought that a gift-wrapping business could have been a business at all.
Vanessa is also a big fan of vintage papers and ribbons, so I asked her how she became such a big fan. “I love vintage things, and not just because they are vintage, I like the impact that it has on the environment.” Another business that Vanessa used to own was a vintage party rental business, which came about because she hated having to go out and buy new vases and other decorations for a wedding she was helping plan. “All of these vases are already in existence. We can go to estate sales, garage sales, Goodwill and buy these same things or rent them, without having to put this demand for all of these, majority made in China, products that aren’t any good for the environment.” So the vintage paper was kind of an easy piece to incorporate into Avenue Wrapping. Vanessa finds the patterns to be different from today's patterns and loves that you can’t find them anywhere else, so it adds that much more of a special touch to a gift.
When I asked Vanessa what she loved about being a small business in Memphis. “I’m not gonna go buy a piece of art [from a big chain] if I can find it locally, and know that it was made by someone. So, I think for me, being a small business here in Memphis just means I’m a part of something bigger.” She loves that Memphis is a place that supports the arts because it makes having a creative small business a little bit easier. She hopes that Avenue Wrapping grows more in the future by partnering with malls, going to stores and giving classes to the staff on how to gift wrap professionally, and help businesses understand their brand better through gift wrapping.
I want to give Vanessa a big thank you for sitting down with us and having such a lovely conversation. If you want to contact Vanessa, you can find her website here: www.avenuewrapping.com as well as her email here: firstname.lastname@example.org. Avenue Wrapping is also on Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn, where her handle is @avenuewrapping. If you would like to be featured on our Small Business Highlight Blog series, you can contact us at email@example.com. If you want to follow us on social media, you can find us here: Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.