Meagan Downey of Shelburne isn’t counting eggs because her startup business is still in the process of hatching, but she’s got to feel confident her proposed company will fly.
Chances are looking good for Shiki Wrap, the reusable gift wrap company she’s working to start.
Downey got a shot of optimism for her fledgling business Nov. 3 when she won an edie, which was formerly known as the New England Innovation Award, in Lincoln, Mass.
The eight-month competition began with 119 startups, eventually being whittled to 23. She won an award for a minority business, one of the eight awards given.
Bothered by the wastefulness of wrapping paper, Downey was looking for an environmentally friendly alternative when she discovered furoshiki, a centuries-old Japenese tradition of wrapping gifts in beautiful fabric. With furoshiki a gift becomes a gift within a gift.
Then she hit upon the idea of gifts wrapped in fabric made from recycled plastic thread.
Downey said the edie is “kind of a ridiculously huge award” and she’s not sure where she will put it.
But she’s not going to make that decision now.
“I will wait until Shiki Wrap is operating in its own space, outside of my basement,” Downey said.
Last year she had a soft launch of Shiki Wrap for the holidays and sold all of her trial inventory.
Shiki Wrap got a preliminary dose of enthusiasm this past spring when it was one of eight finalists for the Burlington Chamber of Commerce’s LaunchVT competition. That earned Downey and seven other finalists a 10-week mentoring program to help them develop expertise to launch a successful business.
A Kickstarter campaign also raised $10,000, which was enough revenue to finance production of Shiki Wrap for her financial backers and for 150 customers during the upcoming holidays.
Not only all that, but her Kickstarter was covered in Forbes, Downey said.
She believes it is inevitable that reusable gift wrap will be a success for some business, it’s just a question of who is nimble enough with the best product.
“Anybody who cares about the environment and cares enough to use something like reusable gift wrap is smart enough to see through anything that looks like greenwashing, so you need to be very transparent,” Downey said.
She said Shiki Wrap is more expensive than traditional gift wrap “but that is because it is a truly sustainable business.”
“This is just absolutely how people are going to be wrapping their gifts in the future,” Downey said.
She’s hopeful they’ll use Shiki Wrap.