If someone had told Jane Means 15 years ago that she would one day be making a living by wrapping up a six-foot rhinoceros for one of the Beatles or a gift for the Queen, she would have thought they were a bit off. Yet, Jane has seen her wrapping company grow from a tiny start-up working out of a spare room into a hugely profitable internationally renowned company, with clients including Ralph Lauren, Banana Republic, Harrods, and celebrities she won’t mention for their privacy.
Jane Means started her company from her kitchen table in 1995 with a small budget and a mind full of creative ideas. Her early days were spent making custom greeting cards and wedding stationery which became very popular. She was commissioned to make a card for the Queen (which later went on display in Buckingham Palace) and was a regular supplier to Harvey Nichols, the British Department Store chain. By the late 90’s Jane realized her true passion was gift wrapping and after doing some training to learn how to teach, decided to start her own gift wrapping courses.
“I’ve always loved putting colours together, and noticed those little ‘finishing’ details in a shop window or on a dinner table. I think the writing was on the wall even as a child: I’d always saved the most beautifully-wrapped gifts till last, as a special treat.”
The hobby has now turned in to a full time business with a global following, as clients travel worldwide to attend her workshops throughout the UK. Known as the ‘Gift Wrap Guru’ her portfolio includes luxury gift wrapping services and training for the staffs of for Harrods, Marks & Spencer, Selfridges, American Express, Crabtree and Evelyn, Banana Republic, Dior, Chanel, Ralph Lauren ,….to name a few, or a lot !
“In the mid-90s I spotted a gap in the market. I came back from a skiing trip in Austria, where I saw how good they were at wrapping and it made me realize how quite bad we were in the UK.”
Jane had the idea to start giving courses where she could teach people what she had learned and share ideas. A friend told her she should exhibit at the Country Living Christmas Fair (sponsored by Country Living magazine). It was, she says,
“one of the best decisions of my professional life. When I saw the crowd control barriers I panicked a bit, and it was a bit like being thrown in at the deep end, but from that we made lots more bookings.”
Jane has never forgotten how it all started:
“I do not miss a Country Living show; it really launched me and I’m forever grateful, along with Country Living magazine, which has also been hugely supportive.”
Today, 80 per cent of Jane’s work is corporate, 20 per cent private. “My clients are everyone from Russian multibillionaires to a gentleman from Milton Keynes (a town in England, about 70 miles/100 km away) who’d bought a special gift, drove down in his lunch hour and went back to work afterwards,” she explains.
She travels nationwide doing corporate events and her own workshops. Classes are held in Lincolnshire (where her studio is located), Oxford, London, and Manchester and throughout the UK at handpicked venues and boutique hotels. Her biggest-ever wrapping challenge, though (in every sense), was a rocking horse. “Appropriately, it was a bit of a ‘mare’ to wrap: it was sprung on me and I had to do the job in front of 300 people.”
A good part of her business is offering private gift wrapping classes to groups of up to 10 (mostly) women, in their own homes or even workplaces.
Quite the celebrity these days, Jane’s talent is now in high demand to clubs, galleries and at national charity events, exhibitions and trade events.
She has been featured in dozens of publications including The Mail, Mirror, Country Homes and Interiors, Weddings and Home, GQ, Journal and Country Living Magazine.
Her Couture Wrapping Shop in Covent Garden offers a full range of her unique gift-wrapping accessories and decorations and was also voted ‘Shop of the Week’ by the Times.
Jane is a regular with the BBC on radio and TV, has done many commercials and product endorsements including WH Smith, and Marks & Spencer and is the face of Scotch Tape! ……….. And if that is not enough, she just launched her own TV show on British network, Create and Craft TV.
”Jane has always been aware of the beautiful papers from Rossi, as working
in the gift wrapping industry she sees lots of papers”, said Caroline, Janes wonderful assistant.
“The marbled papers and the Peacock ones really caught her eye and the quality of the paper is of such a high standard. Although we are only selling the marbled and peacock designs online we have a much larger selection of Rossi papers that we sell on our gift wrapping courses and at fairs too, ranging from birds, ladies fashion and the more masculine designs , too. They are always popular and, although at the top end of the market, people don’t mind spending a little more due to the excellent quality.”
“There are some wonderful images of Rossi paper in Jane’s new book
‘Giftwrapped’. If you can get your hands on one I’m sure you will love the images in there! www.janemeans.com
Jane got married in Italy a couple of years ago and the country is very
special to her. She was lucky enough to visit the factory and meet some of
the team there and form a working relationship with them.”
Caroline continues, “Jane started to design her own ribbons a few years ago, the gift wrapping side of the business is quite seasonal, so she thought a collection of her own ribbon designs would sell well all year round. We sell to the public
via our website and popular fairs (such as The Country Living Fair and The
Spirit of Christmas Fair) and we also sell wholesale to independent shops, (including Liberty and Fortnum and Mason) craft specialists, florists etc.
Jane keeps introducing new ribbon designs to tie in with popular trends and we now have an extensive collection as you can see on the website. Most of the ribbons are made up overseas but we are always on the look out to try and bring
our manufacturing a bit closer to home. Jane also picks up lots of ideas and other ribbons designs on her travels as she love to experience new cultures and countries.”
She also has a team of experienced Ribbon Bloggers who regularly post DIY tutorials and craft ideas using the companies ribbons and craft products.
Jane’s enthusiasm is obvious: “This September (2015) we are reaching our company milestone and would love you to join in the fun celebrating our 20th year…. And what a year it has been with the ‘Giftwrapped’ book launch, winning a business award from Theo Paphitis, landing my own TV show, and launching our Gift Wrapping Courses in South East Asia; we recently launched our first creative Singapore gift wrapping courses at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel with press in attendance. The creative classes were scheduled to coincide with the 50th Anniversary of Singapore independence, known as SG50.”
She lives with her husband David in London and Singapore. We would like to ask Jane one more question: ‘Jane, when do you sleep?’
Jane Means is a professional gift wrapper and has a fabulous blog: http://janemeansblog.com
It is full of ideas to wrap even the most intricate shape, as well as a website: http://www.janemeans.com or
www.janemeans.co.uk which sells a myriad of ribbons, tissues and papers. Clients travel worldwide to attend her workshops in the UK and Singapore.
Great You Tube interview with Jane:
You can find her on Facebook as well: