A small business spotlight from the gift wrap industry.
by Kristin Leu
As a woman-owned business, design manager, and new entrepreneur in the gift wrap industry, I was excited to come across Patricia Lee, a designer and business woman making a change in the paper-dominate world of gift wrap. Lee’s company, BOBO, makes reusable gift wrap. The wraps are created from already-existing fabrics and they can be used over and over again for multiple purposes.
A painting graduate of RISD, Lee came up with the idea while cleaning up the discarded wrapping paper after a holiday celebration. According to the Clean Air Council, an extra four million tons of waste from wrapping paper and shopping bags is generated in the U.S. every year. Determined to reduce waste in her own family, she decided to wrap gifts in fabric, a traditional method of wrapping passed down throughout history and often used by her aunts and grandmother.
Bojagi, the Korean tradition of wrapping with fabric, has been around since the 11th century. It’s a functional art form that uses scarves made from leftover fabric to wrap items for gift-giving, weddings, religion and transporting goods. Unfortunately, the practice of bojagi has become rare since the introduction of paper gift wrap and disposable bags, but Lee’s environmental mission aims to revive the old tradition with a fresh approach.
As designers and consumers, it’s our goal to bring beauty into the world and make better choices for the future of our planet. Consumers are more earth-aware than ever before and the market is seeking simple, everyday opportunities to make environmentally-friendly decisions. By pairing good design, simplicity, and functionality, BOBO gets my vote as a smart business concept. It reduces waste because it uses recycled fabric and it’s meant to be saved and reused for other gifts. Everyday consumers and gift-recipients are exposed to good design and the notion of “reuse and recycle.” And by using a tagline that everyone can relate to, “It’s as easy as tying your shoes,” the product is positioned for multiple uses, which is a smart business and marketing call.
So, whether you buy a BOBO wrapping scarf, use pre-owned cloth purchased from a thrift shop, or cut up scraps from your old clothes, the idea of wrapping with fabric is a smart idea. BOBO takes a functional tradition, adds modern design, and helps the planet in the process. Now, that’s a gift worth wrapping.