Tired of shopping for gifts? Give gift wrap. That's what Lisa Maloof, SVP of ad agency Brogan Tennyson Group, did one Christmas. Bored with corporate-branded pens and paperweights, Maloof put her creative team to work. "We sent out a gift-wrap set, and immediately got calls asking for more," she says. "A month later, we took our designs to a trade show in New York." The side project evolved into Whimsy Press, where Maloof moonlights as chief inspirational officer.
Whimsy's double-sided designs reflect how gift wrap has gone upscale. (Way upscale, in the case of San Francisco's Cavallini; some buyers frame sheets of its vintage-inspired patterns as art.) It also indicates how, while standard wrap (trees, bows) still dominates, there's now more room for the different and daring. Take French Paper's "Stranger Manger," which shows Santa and Frosty with Jesus and Mary. "It's a comment on how we have commercialized a religious holiday," says president Jerry French, who insists he means no disrespect. "We would never poke fun at religion since we believe it's a miracle and by the grace of God that we're still in business."
A version of this article appeared in the December 2010/January 2010 issue of Fast Company magazine.