Meet Ashley Fouyolle. She’s the busy Brooklynite whose been wowing customers with her sustainable luxury gift-wrapping company UNWRP. Fouyolle launched the brand in 2017, with the desire to create beautiful quality gifting goods inspired by her passion for art, fashion and unique color patterns. UNWRP offers everything you need to build the perfect gift for any occasion from wrapping papers and greeting cards to their super colorful Furoshiki Wraps which are traditional decorative Japanese clothes that can be repurposed to wrap a gift for your loved one or even worn as a fashionable piece of attire. In fact, you’ll find Fouyolle’s eco-conscious mission all throughout the brand’s products. Each and every last bit of gift wrap from the company is made from 30% post-consumer materials and is fully recyclable or reusable.
UNWRP’s success skyrocketed in part due to its successful artist partnership program. Fouyolle wanted to create a space for a diverse community of emerging artists and designers to showcase their work while helping to expand UNWRP’s mission of elevating the gift wrapping experience through color. UNWRP has worked with artists including Laci Jordan, Temi Cooker and Monica Ahanonu to create custom gift wrap designs.
MADAMENOIRE spoke with Fouyolle about cultivating her successful brand and her recent partnership with Sprite where the bustling entrepreneur will team up with the soft drink company to create a special gift wrap design in honor of their new Winter Spiced Cranberry Zero Sugar flavor.
What was your inspiration behind launching UNWRP in 2017?
My inspiration behind UNWRP truly comes from my childhood. I remember every single Christmas my mother never missed an opportunity to surprise us with wrapped gifts. Each and every gift was wrapped floor to ceiling. So I really kept a hold of that throughout my life. Every gift that I give has to be wrapped. I really take the time and effort to curate the gift and it starts with the packaging. They say never judge a book by its cover but you always judge the gift by how you receive it and that’s the everlasting impression.
In 2017, I had some free time. I just quit a job and I was like ‘if this is not the perfect time then I’ll never start it.’ I created a website and created an Instagram and thought that that would be it, but I was truly blown away by everyone else resonating with the brand because they realized this was something that’s definitely missing from the market.
How are UNWRP’s materials sourced with environmental sustainability in mind?
When you think about the old-school wrapping paper, you think about something that literally lasts two seconds. Once they dispose of it, it ends up in a landfill, so I definitely wanted a longer lifeline with my wrapping paper. I’m intentional about making sure the quality of the paper can withstand a beating. So once you unwrap the gift you can still frame the papers because they’re still in good condition. I feel like most of my customers buy the papers just to frame solely because it truly is artwork. Even down to the packaging. I’m really mindful about not using single-use plastic. Most of my packaging is compostable and recyclable and even with my shipping box, I designed it in a way that it can be reused and repurposed so once you turn it out, you have a fully functioning gift box.
Tell us more about how you incorporated the Furoshiki Wrap into the brand?
It’s definitely a traditional Japanese concept where they basically reuse a cloth to wrap either gifts, to use as a bag, or to carry things. It wasn’t that popular in the United States so I wanted to introduce that to offset the environmental impact of the papers, so no longer do you have to worry about the waste of the papers, you have this fabric wrap that you can use to wrap the gift and then once they unwrap the gift they have a fully functioning scarf. I will say that most of my customers buy them just to wear and they don’t actually want to gift it because it’s so good, but I tell people it is for gifting.
Tell us about your artist collaborations over the years? How do you go about choosing the artists you work with and how does UNWRP help elevate their careers?
When I first started I had a range in my own designs but I really thought this is the perfect opportunity to work with a Laci Jordan, a Kacey Kal. These were all artists that I had been following for years and always admired their work, but I finally had an opportunity to partner with them. So I literally just scouted them via Instagram. I slid in their DMs and they were totally open for it. Artists really choose to partner with UNWRP because we give them visibility. Like with Kasy Kal, he never produced prints before UNWRP, so this was an opportunity for his fanbase to actually collect his pieces. So now they are seeing their artwork not only on paper, which people are normally accustomed to but now they’re seeing it on fabrics, they’re seeing it on throw pillows, so we’re basically expanding their exposure.
UNWRP has recently been tapped to design a special gift wrapping paper inspired by Sprite’s Winter Spiced Cranberry flavor. How did the partnership come about?
Over the years we’ve gotten a lot of exposure so we might have slipped on someone’s radar and Sprite actually reached out to us with this great idea of coming up with custom gift wrap. I was super excited by the opportunity. I’ll let you know when I first got the email I did think it was spam because I was like there’s no way Sprite is reaching out to us, but here we are today! We actually created this custom gift wrap and it wasn’t spam! It was a great opportunity and I’m super excited for fans to get a hold of it.
Why is this partnership important to you as a Black women-led business?
Because it shows that I’m doing something right. We always have it in our heads that we are never doing enough. We have to work ten times as hard, but it just shows that we are making noise and the right people are noticing. I took on the partnership because it further elevates our visibility and Sprite is lending their platform to help amplify our voice and I was super excited by the opportunity to do so.
In August we saw a large number of people quit their jobs because of the economy and some are now taking that leap of faith into entrepreneurship. What’s one piece of advice you can give to people looking to take the plunge into being a full-time business owner?
Go for it! In 2017, I had recently quit my job so I had nothing but time. That was the perfect opportunity to start something. You always will have different excuses, ‘like it’s not the right time,’ or ‘I don’t have enough money,’ but if you never make that first step, you’ll never make that first step, so honestly just go forward, put all your effort into it and make it happen!
Looking to get your hands on UNWRP and Sprite’s Winter Spiced Cranberry gift wrap? The exclusive gift-wrapping paper will be available via surprise-and-delight giveaways to fans who share their love for Sprite Winter Spiced Cranberry by interacting with the brand on social or signing up for Sprite Winter Spiced Cranberry notifications on Sprite.com.