Jane Means shares gift wrap tricks and tips ahead of move to Careby near Stamford
Choosing the perfect present is a time consuming challenge for the best of us, but after that there’s another hurdle to overcome.
Often left to the last minute, gift wrapping can be a dreaded chore even for the more creative of characters.
But one woman has made a successful career out of artistically folding paper and adorning presents with symmetrical bows and classy decorations.
Gift wrap guru Jane Means’ career started 28 years ago from her parents' home near Lincoln.
While working in the travel industry, a hobby of hand making cards spiralled into a gift wrapping business after Jane spotted a gap in the market.
Jane, soon to be a Stamford local, said: “I have always been quite arty and would notice finishing touches in shop windows and dinner tables and how the smallest touch could transform them into something amazing.”
Not everyone was convinced her talent was a promising career, including her parents who are farmers.
Jane, who worked part-time as a florist while trying to create a business, said: “They laughed and didn’t take me seriously.
“I had to do lots of free work at Women’s Institutes locally and businesses trying to get myself recognised.
“There was a lot of hard work and no return.”
Although by 1999 they were proven wrong as Jane’s career snowballed with her presence in high demand at events across the country and showbiz producers and stars eager to have her on their shows.
She puts the quick growth down to a small feature in the lifestyle and home magazine Country Living, which she continues to work with today, most recently at Burghley Horse Trials last weekend.
Her first commercial client was W H Smith for an event in Edinburgh and from there she built up a long list of brands including Selfridges which Jane describes as a ‘pinch me moment’.
She is now a specialist and advisor for many brands including Dior, Jo Malone, Carolina Herrera, and Harrods and has trained staff at Fortnum and Mason, Ralph Lauren, Harrods, Dior and the Royal Household - to name a few - which includes travelling around the globe.
As the internet grew so did her wrapping reputation as her website could effectively boast a CV of past work.
If Jane’s face looks familiar it could be from her many appearances on ITV’s This Morning, BBC Radio 2 and even Sky Sports - where she taught pundits to wrap a football.
Her line of work has led to meeting with some of her idols and big names including singer Simon Le Bon, TV personality Jeremy Clarkson, chef Raymond Blanc - who asked her to wrap his mum’s Christmas presents - and comedian Eddie Izzard.
Some big names and A-list celebrities Jane has created masterpieces for privately order that her work is kept under wraps.
Speaking about when she first set up the business, Jane, now 54, said: “I thought ‘let’s run some courses from my parent’s water mill’, I never dreamt I would be on TV or radio.”
Two decades on and understanding the pressure the king of presents Santa Claus must feel, Jane now has a trusty team of 15 dedicated gift wrappers.
As well as rubbing shoulders with famous people many see Jane as a celebrity herself.
She was ‘shocked’ ten years ago by her first autograph and photo request, which has happened a lot since, and her pristine Instagram feed boasting a ‘blue tick’ is watched by thousands of followers.
Soon people in the Stamford area can glean gift wrap knowledge as Jane’s partner Ian has bought a farm in Careby.
With a number of stables and outbuildings Jane plans to relocate her business as well as offer creative retreats.
The gift wrap guru would bring in other creatives for classes such as flower arranging, calligraphy and wreath making.
“I want to get a few people out of London and up here. Stamford has so much potential,” said Jane, author of book Giftwrapped .
With many family members and friends in Stamford Jane is ecstatic to make the move to the south of the county.
She is holding a masterclass in Careby Village Hall next month which is sold out in the morning with few spaces left in the afternoon.
But for people who aren’t to nab a space Jane has some tips on how to avoid a gift that looks like it’s been wrapped by a child.
‘Always measure and cut’ is key, specifically with ribbon measure twice and cut once to prevent frayed edges.
For those wanting to gift the likes of a teddy bear or bicycle opt for flexible wrapping paper, which works for things of all tricky shapes and sizes.
Glitter paper is out of fashion, Jane says, and sustainable brown paper is ‘in’ which can be dressed up with sprigs of foliage.
Jane wants to debunk the view that gift wrapping is an afterthought, coming in third to the present itself and the card, and instead is a staple in the present experience.
“It is really important, like fashion on a person, it is a first impression,” she said.
“We have been through a pandemic, Brexit, a cost of living crisis so you want people to feel amazing.
“That’s why I love my job as you make people feel great.
“Presents don’t have to be expensive to be presented well.”
A final tip of hers to avoid fluster and create a present which looks like it is from a gift wrap grotto, is not to leave the wrapping to the last minute.
With less than 80 days until Christmas now could be the time to start.