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Meet Amruta Walvekar who tells you how to wrap your gift right at her workshops

Updated - September 07, 2015 07:49 pm IST

Published - September 07, 2015 03:12 pm IST - chennai:

Amruta Walvekar at her gift wrapping workshop. Photo: R. Ravindran

Amruta Walvekar at her gift wrapping workshop. Photo: R. Ravindran

Amruta Walvekar’s father was not happy. “He had absolutely no faith,” she giggles, between juggling glittery pink ribbons and a rather intimidating hot glue gun. “He said, ‘Wrapping gifts? How can that be a career?’”

So, she obediently went abroad and did an MBA at Royal Holloway in Egham. After that, she worked with Sky TV. “I was in marketing, and I was doing well. But after one year of it, I thought, ‘Please. This cannot be it. There must be more to life’.” So she came home, and started wrapping gifts again. She got her first big order in one day from an old friend. Then came another, and another.

Five years later, her company, Wrapistry, has fans across the country. She travels constantly, holding workshops, besides wrapping gifts for people in Pune, where she is based.

As the company grew, she quickly realised she needed a large office — finding space to wrap 1,000 wedding gifts can be challenging. That’s when her father stepped in. “He let me take over his chemical factory in Pune,” she smiles. “I have three girls working with me, and we’ve painted it red. It’s so pretty now: About 3,000 sq. ft .in total and really rustic.”

At the Taj Connemara for a workshop, attended by about 25 earnest students, who ranged from their 20s to 50s, she demonstrates how to delicately pleat paper, twist ribbons into flowers and fold satin. Her tools are simple, chiefly scissors, glue and those indispensible rolls of double-sided tape. But her techniques are impressive; she swiftly folds, bends and teases reams of paper into pretty little packages. It is not easy, but perhaps that’s why her classes are so popular. The workshops — which are almost always sold out — challenge you to learn a new skill, drawing everyone from young moms who need to wrap children’s birthday gifts to burnt-out executives looking for a new hobby.

“When I graduated in 2005, I had no plans for the future,” she says, with disarming honesty. “I was doing nothing, basically. So, I decided to try and put my mind into doing something positive and experimented with wrapping presents.” Eager for people to experiment on, she wrapped gifts for a friend’s brother who was going abroad. “When he reached, his friends asked him if he had got the gifts professionally wrapped — which is when I started thinking that maybe I could make this into a profession.”

Of course, her father was not as easily impressed, so after a couple of years of wrapping, he insisted on her getting an MBA. But after three years abroad, when she returned in 2011, she found the market for wrapped gifts was just getting bigger.

While there were plenty of people doing the same thing, she stood out because her work was different. “I don’t like those typical trays people give out for weddings and festivals. I like minimal classy stuff. I used to do hampers. Anything from 100 to 250. Then when the orders started getting bigger, I began making boxes, which I would embellish.” She adds that it’s slow manual work. “I did 2,500 of them recently,” she smiles, “It took two-and-a-half weeks.”

After two years, she decided to try something new. “People kept asking me to teach them how to wrap gifts, so I held my first workshop at the Olive Bistro, Pune, in 2013. It was sold out in three days. So, I did three more workshops.” That sold out too. “Then I started workshops in Mumbai. Eventually, I got so many requests that I booked the Taj, and that’s where I’ve been doing the workshops ever since.”

In the meantime, she’ll still wrap a single gift for you — but ideally a Rolex watch or Tiffany’s engagement ring. “I go to Mumbai very often to wrap. I stay at a friend’s house and clients send their drivers with gifts for me to work on: usually jewellery or watches. Sometimes shoes, bridal outfits, diamond earrings… People are spending lots of money on gifts, so they don’t mind spending a little more to make sure the gift looks nice.”

She adds, “If it’s something very expensive, I go to their houses to wrap it. It costs between Rs. 250 to Rs. 3,000 for the premium work. I’ll do layers of bows. Or Japanese pleating, perhaps — I recently did a course on the different forms of pleating in Tokyo.” She adds with a chuckle, “My best compliment? A client gave a gift wrapped by me to his wife, and she just couldn’t bring herself to open it because it was so pretty.”

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