wrapping your gifts

My friend Jenna and I were hanging out tonight having a crafts night. She brought everything you could imagine we’d need. She is far craftier than I.

So far, she’s made the most amazing card (see here).

And I wrapped two books (that I bought with a Greenwoods book gift certificate sent to me by a colleague of mine Julia Kious Zabell (thankyouthankyouthankyou).

As soon as I’d finished wrapping them, I felt so excited to give it to them.

But the gift hadn’t changed. It was still just two books.

But they meant more to me.

I was more excited to share them.

Just from putting some care and craftiness into how they were wrapped.

And it strikes me that it’s the same with our businesses.

Sometimes people are hesitant to put care into the ‘wrapping’. They’re hesitant to make their website beautiful, to get a beautiful headshot, to put more attention to the design of their products. That somehow it’s gross. That somehow it’s not honest. But the truth is, they’re a little embarrassed every time they give out their business card or brochure. They look at their posters hanging up at the organic grocery and silently wish it was better.

(note: she just finished a second sweet card. with cotton balls! amazing!)

Some people think wrapping is fake.

But tonight, do you know what I think it is?

I think it’s lovely.

My dear friend and colleague Carrie Klassen has likely been the most important influence in my business life around this simple lesson: beauty matters. Explore her website and you’ll see why I love her so much.

Be proud of what you offer. Dress it well. Treat your marketing like a special event – the kind it’s such a pleasure to dress up for. A wedding, a special birthday, a graduation, an anniversary. We dress up so we feel beautiful and to inspire those around us.

I’m not talking about synthetic, neon light beauty. I’m not talking about super models. I’m not talking about making something beautiful ‘so they’ll buy’.

I’m talking about candle light, hand made, vintage and craftiness. I’m talking poetry and crafting your words to be ‘just right’. I’m talking about setting up your workshop space so it feels warm and inviting. I’m talking about the beauty of art. I’m talking about making it just the way you want it so that it makes you proud – so that it radiates ‘youness’. I’m talking about weaving in your quirk and kinks.

As my dear friend Erica Ross (whose work embodies this so perfectly) says, “Making the conscious choice to slow down and beautify something or somewhere, in my view, is a sacred act of love and community.”

I think of the chef who not only makes amazing food but presents it ‘just so’ with so much care and attention put to the placement of things. I think of the tea ceremonies the exist around the world. It’s not just the tea, it’s the whole ritual of it – the presentation. I think of the improv comedy show I do every week in Edmonton and how we clean up the house after every show and sweep the stage. It’s not just the performance, it’s the whole experience. I think of a jazz band I once saw who dressed in tuxes and how the band leader acknowledged that tuxes on a jazz band might seem odd, ‘but’ he said. ‘I think it has a little something to do with respect.’

I’ve performed close up, sleight of hand card magic since I was 12. I love it so much. And, as I grew up, I began to see how much bad magic there was in the world. Actually, I should correct myself . . . how many bad performances there were. So much terrible patter and awkward people doing magic tricks. So much rushing through the show and not letting the moments sink in. So much trying to impress people with technique rather than charming them with a performance. In 1943, Dariel Fitzkee wrote his masterpiece in the world of magic Showmanship for Magicians. He pointed out that being ‘technically’ proficient (even brilliant) in sleight of hand wasn’t the point. The point was the show. The performance. That the magic lived in the mind of the audience, not the hands of the magician. The best modern example of this is Derren Brown.

I’m suggesting that what you find beautiful is something that others might just find beautiful too. And that if you really get honest with yourself and take the time to make it beautiful (for you) that you’ll be a lot more excited to share it.

John O’Donohue puts it so well in his book Beauty: The Invisible Embrace. Beauty is a human need, it’s not a luxury. Beauty is not the domain of the obscenely wealthy. It’s something we need to reclaim in our lives. Beauty isn’t something that we earn enough money to one day acquire. It’s something that we weave into our lives every day in the simplest of ways. And then we realize that a life full of beauty is wealth.

We’re reminded that it’s not all about listing features and benefits. It’s not all about the facts.

“There is a relentless search for the factual and this quest often lacks warmth or reverence … The wisdom of the tradition reminds us that if we choose to journey on the path of truth, it then becomes a sacred duty to walk hand in hand with beauty.” – John O’Donohue

When you take the time to not only create something beautiful but then wrap your work in genuine beauty, you’ll be so much more proud of it and excited to share it. I used to love my old website. Then I began to like it less and less. I just wasn’t proud of it anymore. People would ask me, ‘do you have a website?’ and I’d say, ‘yeah, but . . . let me just email you.’ Anything to avoid sending them to my site. I was embarrassed by it.

And then a dear friend of mine Jaime Almond helped me create this site. She designed the banner for me. She showed me how to use the site. It was incredible. Suddenly, I was so proud of my site. Suddenly, I wanted everyone to check out my Marketing for Hippies site. Now, nothing had changed in me. Nothing had changed in the services I offered. I’d not learned anything new in marketing. Nothing had changed – except the wrapping. And I was shocked to see what a difference it made in my own enthusiasm for my own business.

And, consider this, if wrapping things so beautifully has you more excited to share them, don’t you think it might have your clients a bit more excited to share what you’re offering, now that it really looks like a gift? It always was a gift, but now people recognize it as such.

I think perhaps we stop too soon in our creations. We make wonderful things and then forget to wrap them. Or we get too lazy.

Back in the day, when I was hanging out with anarchists and protesting the IMF and World Bank and wearing my jeans and shirts til they were threadbare and tattered, I had a real judgment of fashion, aesthetics and beauty. But, I’ve come to appreciate it. That the way we carry and groom ourselves is a gift to the world too. That our words and actions can be a part of what feeds the soul of the world with beauty.

That there is a beauty in self care.

There is a beauty in the gift and a joy in the wrapping.

A colleague of mine Katie Curtin, a wonderful life coach for the artsy and eclectic souls of the world, shared these words with me,

Putting love, and care and creativity into how we present ourselves, whether it’s in our personal appearance, or the materials we create makes an exquisite difference to how we feel about ourselves and our offerings. 

And it’s not about the expense, or being perfect, or being slick- it’s about truthful beauty, the art of expressing oneself through all the ways we interact with the world.

I am terribly imperfect at this, and like you for a long time had an attachment to old jeans and sloppy clothes as a sign of being a rebel. And how often have I not taken the time to wrap things as artfully as I could.  Thanks for this reminder of the importance of how we wrap things !

Sometimes people think the wrapping is unethical.

But tonight, do you know what I think it is?

I think it’s lovely.


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