Although I now offer a wide range of creative services I am best known as an international gift wrapping expert. According to Harpers & Queen I was the world’s first gift wrapping consultant. In fact, I started wrapping at the age of 3½! My grandmother came to stay and not long afterwards her lingerie disappeared only to reappear wrapped in neat little parcels. I had begun gift wrapping!
Since my career began
It started with the publication of Wrap It Up (out of print). Since then I’ve made three step by step DVDs and many videos. My work includes training courses and workshops, consumer and trade show seminars, demonstrations at special events as well as consultancy services. It has taken me around the UK including 10 Downing Street to train the Prime Minister’s staff, across the United States, to Japan where I was described as the world’s foremost gift wrapping expert and to countries as diverse as India, Poland and Ireland. In Belgium I gave workshops in French, while in Germany, for several years, I shared my tips and techniques at Creativeworld, Christmasworld and Paperworld, the world’s largest trade show for paper and stationery.
Design consultancy is both interesting and challenging. Wrapping a shoe for an international VISA campaign took considerable time and skill (you can see it in the gallery). Preparing a mock-up for their Winter Olympics commercial was a little embarrassing when I forgot the skaters were men and decorated wrapped mugs with red feather boa ribbon. Oops! Luckily there was time to make the necessary changes.
I have operated gift wrapping services in several locations. In Hamleys Regent Street toy store sales of teddy bears increased considerably when customers saw how they were wrapped. The prize for the oddest item to be wrapped goes to a box of Kleenex at Heathrow Airport. The reason why that was necessary would not be out of place in a thriller!
On radio and Television
In addition to over 100 radio interviews, I’ve appeared on many television programmes. One of the best was with the team on Sky News Sunrise. The award for the most frustrating goes to Hollywood heartthrob Gerard Butler on BBC 1’s The One Show and the scariest, also live on BBC1, involved wrapping a bottle of red wine on the arm of a chair. Good news – I didn’t drop it!
In addition to helping clients declutter or reorganise their homes I’ve been showing how to recycle, upcycle and repurpose for years. Drying out moss that falls off the roof and using it to add an eco-friendly finishing touch to a gift is a firm favourite. There is no cost and it looks great, as you can see in the gallery.
I’ve broadened my creative horizons which now includes working with unwanted items that others would put in the bin. This has led to exciting new projects with power tools! Product include:
- Contemporary bowls hand-turned on a lathe using sustainably sourced wood
- Bespoke bird boxes and bird mansions made from offcuts of wood, rusty metal or trimmed branches
- Willow wreaths decorated with seashells gathered from around the globe
A selection can be seen in the shop and I also accept commissions.
I’ve learnt about millinery from the best and am so pleased that my often quirky designs have proven to be so popular – a fascinator featuring a 45rpm record is a case in point! Those who prefer to make their own do so in my creative and crafty workshops. On a cruise ship even rough seas didn’t discourage the ladies from creating their own beautiful fascinators to wear to the ball.
When it comes to special events I like nothing better than the challenge of creating an innovative table centrepiece. One for a cricket-mad couple celebrating their silver wedding proved to be so popular even the cricket club, where the event was held, kept one to display in their boardroom!
Photos above: Arona in her studio | On Ready Steady Cook with Ainsley Harriott | Doing radio interviews |With Ruth Langsford on Channel 5 | Giving a demonstration at Folli Follie