Hema Chauhan was sick of feeling more and more guilty as every birthday and Christmas went by. Her options for wrapping were limited.
Not because of design, but because finding beautiful, recyclable wrapping paper that you would be proud to hand over to a loved one can be harder than it seems.
“For years, I was feeling guilty over the wrapping paper I was using and it got to a point where I just sort of thought there’s got to be better options than brown Kraft paper,” she said.
Most wrapping paper you can find on the high street is either plastic coated or has plastic embellishments, making it impossible to recycle. Sometimes even the quality of the paper means recycling facilities in the UK are unable to recycle them.
Finding a solution became Hema’s mission.
And so, Curlicue was born. “It’s that final flourish that goes onto a gift, you know we spend ages finding gifts and we want to hand it over in something that lights peoples faces up,” says Hema when asked her about the origin of the name.Curlicue’s biggest selling point is their entirely recyclable wrapping paper, for all of your gift giving needs. Made from vegetable ink, and printed on good quality recyclable paper, it’s simple to recycle for both receivers and the waste infrastructure.
A lot of eco-friendly options tend to come from abroad, which rapidly increases their carbon foot print, reducing any environmental benefits.
This is why, above all, Hema worked to ensure that the carbon foot print of each piece of paper wouldn’t completely diminish any recyclable benefits “You can get Lokta paper which is made in Nepal and it’s amazing because it supports the communities there, but the biggest problem is the carbon footprint getting them here.
In the UK we actually have lots of smaller businesses that have a lot of heritage that have maybe have had to flex slightly in order to adapt to the new world. So if we’re supporting those businesses in the UK, the carbon footprint is quite low but also it means that we are creating a better economy here.”
‘It’s okay, its eco so people will buy it, it doesn’t matter what the design is like‘
In being conscious of supporting UK economy and minimising the carbon foot print of the brand, brands such as Eco Craft, who produce compostable tape that biodegrades, sell their products through Curlicue.
“The twines I have on the website at the moment are actually from a British yarn manufacturer so it has this beautiful heritage that they have been creating yarn for years and years and they use cotton that’s grown in Manchester. That can also then be compostable so although the twine isn’t recyclable it is compostable so it doesn’t just go into landfill.”Creating wrapping paper that would stand on it’s own as an eco-friendly but intricately designed and well thought out concept was always high up on her priority list, when the intrusive thought of the brand was niggling at Hema.
“A lot of what I was finding was made in the US, there was one brand in Australia, and my frustration was that I didn’t think the design quality was as high as it could be.
This was something that I had found in eco products that people are like ‘It’s okay, its eco so people will buy it, it doesn’t matter what the design is like’ so I wanted to create something that was high quality design led.”
In making sure that the designs on the Curlicue website are standouts in their design, Hema hires UK based artists to bring her recyclable paper to life, the collaborative aspect of her work that can be seen sweeping across the entire brand.Although Curlicue at a quick glance may appear to be a one woman show, and it is Hema’s own ‘solopreneur’ venture, it is clear that Hema has fantastic negotiating skills, or just some really good friends, who collaborate and work with her to support the brand.
From family members being roped in to learn how to make origami bows for packaging ideas to long time friends providing PR services in exchange for Hema’s knowledge of her previous role in marketing, one thing is evident when you dig a little deeper.
Curlicue is supported through many versions of collaboration, something Hema is grateful for “It’s one of those ‘solopreneur’ businesses but actually not because I have lots of different people that I can lean on to help me with different things which I’m very luck for. I would say and I think there’s lots of small businesses are doing the same thing,” she told us.“Its a sharing culture and its supportive and its collaborative and that’s what I’ve found particularly in the eco side there are so many women who get involved in the eco space, and work from home and do it themselves and so you kind of create this network because it would be very lonely to do it independently.”
However its not just people close to Hema, supporting Curlicue. A networking group founded in North London made up of entrepreneurs and businesses owners has become a sort of mentoring programme for Hema as well as a way to create different business opportunities.This past Valentine’s day, the group created a Valentines box for those based in the area, with each brand contributing a product, Curlicue obviously providing love themed wrapping.
By following the Curlicue blog you can also keep up with all of the newest designs and Hema’s top tips on recycling and general eco-friendly advise.
“Not only is it about selling products its about sharing knowledge, mentioning products so anything that gets shared isn’t affiliated with us in terms that there’s no payment or anything its purely because we’ve either used it or we love it or I know the person thats running it and I want to include them because there product is fantastic.”
Featured image by Daniela Ferreira Teixeira.
Edited by Susu Hagos.