Q&A with Tracy Umney, Founder of Re-wrapped
Q: What makes you stand out?
A: Our wrapping paper stands apart from other brands in two distinct ways. Firstly, the paper designs are created by some wonderfully talented British designers, whom we promote through our website. All our designers came on board because they supported our ethos and values. Scondly the paper is produced from 100% recycled pulp. The paper comes from UK sources, from office or domestic waste such as used paper, magazines or newspapers – paper that has served its purpose – and is printed using vegetable based inks. Our prices are comparable to those of other sheeted gift wrap on the market.
Q: Why do you care?
A: I wanted to be able to wrap my gifts in beautiful paper but with paper that was recycled; to repurpose a waste product and create something new – and beautiful – out of it! Can you imagine, people in this country use enough wrapping paper each year to reach the moon! We’re a real wrapped gift-giving nation. I found a few options online but nothing available on the high street or in gift shops. I wanted to be able to provide people with a real choice; for them to support British designers, as well as the British workforce by sourcing a UK waste resource, and for it to be at a similar price to other papers on the market. This continues to be the driving force for me and the business.
Q: Is being responsible good for business?
A: Those who buy directly from us online like who we are and what we stand for and the trade orders from gift shops primarily like our designs and see it as an added 'bonus' that it is British and made from recycled materials. But it’s tricky getting the wider community to switch over. This involves dispelling myths that choosing a more ethical or ‘green’ product is only for those who can afford it and a luxury that working families cannot afford. However, we can't get away from the fact that producing things in a more ethical way can cost more, making it harder for businesses like ours to sell at competitive rates without drastically cutting profits. I would love to see more information out there about the true cost of the production of some gifts/products with a hope to encouraging people to possibly think twice before they buy. The true cost of a product is not only considering the environmental impact but also the social impact i.e. wages of workers in developing countries and their working conditions. A great documentary 'The True Cost' about the production of fashion highlights what I'm trying to say perfectly.
Q: Has the business changed you?
A: Having Re-wrapped has opened my eyes to the beautiful designers out there creating wonderful gifts and products and this is now my first thought when buying gifts at Christmas and for birthdays. I try to buy used/second hand products – clothes and household items for me and the children from either ebay or from Oxfam online or an organisation such as People Tree. If I need something new I try and buy an item that is going to last. Running an ethical business helps to continue to focus your mind on considering the true value and cost of products on the market.
Q: What do you like most about your job?
A: I love it when an order comes in, reconfirming that people love our designs and that they’ve made a positive choice by buying from us. I also really enjoy working with our talented designers and seeing new and beautiful designs go to print.
Q: Plans for the future?
A: Re-wrapped will be looking for more talented designers in order to expand its ranges. Looking back over the years we have continued to put our profits back into the business in order to expand our ranges. We are constantly learning about the stationery market and are continually assessing whether or not we have a viable business that, although we believe in it, the community believe in. I think to convince more people to buy recycled and British you have to make it more accessible to the market. This is a tricky one as some of the high street shops buy in bulk at low prices which sometimes won't support the business model of small ethical businesses.