Over the next few weeks we will be highlighting some of the UK’s leading wedding vendors in and around the country as the season for love and weddings is truly upon us.
Now traditional engagements are well known within a range of cultures from the continents of Africa to Asia – they are a symbol of what was done culturally for marriage before white weddings were introduced by the Western world, and if taken time to look into what they represent they are truly a beautiful and joyous cultural celebration of love.
Specifically in this case we see Keji’s services in their glory for a traditional Ghanian engagement ceremony. It is seen as a custom marriage in which the brides family request gifts from the family of her future husband, with each gift representing something of importance.
In this ceremony we see the presentation of gifts for the Father of the Bride, the bible, a ring, the brothers knife and much more. Sequins & Petals provided their service in wrapping and presenting these gifts to not only match the colour theme, but creating unique paper flowered origami, pearls and elegant designs coupled with each gift wrapped for the ceremony presentation.
First up on our list is #girlboss Keji. Founder of Sequins & Petals; a professional gift wrapping service who also specialise in traditional engagements and weddings.
1. Who is the visionary behind Sequins and Petals?
My name is Keji Aofiyebi. I am the founder and creative director of Sequins and Petals. I am a professional illustrator with a degree in art and design.
I’ve always been fascinated with colour and texture so a few years ago, feeling somewhat helpless after being made redundant at work, I spent a considerable amount of time in the shopping malls, browsing and maybe seeking inspiration. While doing this, I discovered what some would call a gap in the market. I felt very strongly that there is a lot more that can be done with the presentation of gifts in the UK.
I have this clear understanding, strong belief or whatever one might call it, that the presentation is a vital part of the gift. Can you imagine gifts so beautiful that the recipient wants what’s inside but can’t even bear ripping up the packaging? Wouldn’t that literally change the face of the gifting industry?
2. What’s behind the name Sequins & Petals? Where did it originate from?
To be honest the name was birthed in the place of prayer .
If you look at sequins, they adorn what ever you put them on; they bring drama, they add sparkle…and Petals, beautiful as flowers are, it’s the petals that literally dress and give form them. This is what we do. We embellish, we dress, we enhance your gifts. We bring drama.
3. You specialise in gift wrapping, however you also have the traditional wedding/engagement services that you provide. What got you into this?
When I started gift wrapping I actually started with making gift hampers and gift baskets but I kept on getting a lot of enquiries of gift wrapping services.
I also noticed that being Uk based there weren’t many businesses offering a high end gift wrapping service for African traditional weddings/engagements. I saw a few of them and did not think they represented the event/occasion adequately. I went on a course to learn how to gift wrap professionally and built up a range of ideas from there. As I got into it, I found that I actually enjoy wrapping a collection of gifts rather than a single gift here and there. I think it’s something to do with the symmetry in doing a range where you have individuality yet maintain uniformity. That set me on the road to wrapping for the traditional wedding/engagement.
4. Why gift wrapping? Was this always what you wanted to do?
No, it wasn’t actually. The vision has always been to enhance the presentation of gifts.
I think it’s important to say at this point that this has been a journey of discovery through faith. By that I mean that there was a time in my life when I could not stand the idea of gift wrapping. With prayer and trust in God’s guidance however, with each new area of growth, I’ve come to see it more and more as an expression of art, the same art and design that I studied at university. Gift wrapping forms an integral part of my vision to impact the gift presentation industry.
I feel there is such a gap in the market. If we look at the pastry industry, they’ve turned cakes into edible works of art and I really feel this is something that can be transferred into the gift industry .
5. Being a business owner yourself, what have been some of the challenges you have encountered within this niche industry and how have or are you overcoming them?
This industry is unique and a little young compared to say the pastry or floral industries so as a result, we don’t have the strength in associations and groups that they have. I used to feel all alone, but I’ve learnt that every industry gives gifts in some shape or form so I’m learning to slot my self in as soon as I see an opportunity. I also study a lot of how the pastry, floral and fashion industries work and I try to reflect what I’m learning into my gift wrapping .
The second issue I have is sourcing materials. Constructive thinking however demands that problems/bottlenecks lead to innovation so I find my way around that issue by sourcing from the other industries (e.g the floral industry) and adapting them to fit the specific vision. I’ve also had to learn making a lot of my own stuff.
6. Traditional Weddings are culturally beautiful occasions with much significance with each gift, how do you put your own spin on these to ensure the wrapping part is just as important?
When I’m wrapping for a traditional wedding, I treat the items like a collection that represents the grooms family. I look for key items that represent the culture and do a fair bit of research. For some cultures it’s the colour or the beads, for others, it’s the traditional fabric or the position, history or aspirations of the families. We research and seek to find that unique thing that sends a message of love, respect and commitment to the brides family and incorporate them as much and as sensitively as we can into the decoration and presentation of the gifts.
In a traditional wedding the groom and his family are trying to send the brides family a message that says; “We love your daughter, we will take care of her and we’re here to express our commitment and union with your family”. At Sequins & Petals, we assist in bringing a clear and joyous expression of these sentiments.
7. Is their a quote or mantra you live by as a business owner?
Build relationships and nurture them.
8. Lastly, where can we expect to find your work?
Facebook: Sequins and Petals
Images by Amy O’Boyle
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