Gift wrap that doesn't end up in the trash

September 23, 2011

Johns started Eco Wrap, a fabric gift wrap company based in Lake Bluff. It sells hand-made re-usable bags for all occasions, including weddings and baby showers. But the big event is Christmas. That's the gift-giving season that gave Johns her light-bulb moment.

"I was wrapping them in paper with bows and trim…and the whole family group, which is like 35 or 40 people, came over for Christmas and all brought gifts for people, too," Johns said. "After we finished unwrapping all the gifts, I had a garage full of garbage bags stuffed with paper."

Eco Wrap has a bag for all occasions, from Halloween treat bags to a fun way to present a hosting gift at Thanksgiving dinner.

"What we're trying to do is get people a better alternative to gift wrapping, something that's a little more green, a little more earth-friendly," she said.

Johns is a non-sewer, but in 2008 she brought in Allison Pasquesi to help with product designs. A journal is included with each bag so you can record memories. The idea is these bags can be exchanged year after year among family and friends much like a Christmas stocking.

"Everyone who sees it says 'this is so cute,' " Pasquesi said. "It's so easy. You just put (the gift) in. You tie it…Looks great...It's done."

Johns spent 37 years working in the corporate world. She considers this business a useful alternative to retirement.

"It's a happy business because (it is) gift-giving and we really enjoy that because gift-giving is usually a happy occasion and so it's a lot of fun," Johns said.

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