Reflections of our First Year with Hema Chauhan
On the eve of our 1st birthday, we sat down with Founder, Hema Chauhan, to talk about everything she’s learnt this year: the highs, the lows, and everything we’ve got to look forward to.
What inspired you to start Curlicue?
Our house at Christmas is mayhem. A few years ago, I looked around at our decimated living room and just saw bags full of unrecyclable paper coated in plastic and with glitter. I tried to find beautiful alternatives, but there was only Kraft paper, and that wasn't what I wanted. Curlicue was born out of that frustration - wanting beautiful wrapping paper that wouldn't harm the planet.
What has been your most significant learning in the past year?
That in business, and in life, being adaptable to your circumstances is essential. My mantra in life has always been: 'I can't control what happens, but I can control my reaction to it.' This past year has taught me to go far beyond that; it's about keeping momentum. I have to remind myself to keep pushing forward and not ignoring what's happening, but not letting it hold you back.
What has been your Curlicue highlight in the past year?
The Christmas launch which took place in October last year was the most special moment of the previous twelve months. It was an incredible event with family and friends, in a co-working space in North London.
I had friends, who are local to me, cook delicious food and Barnet based wine merchant, Vino Hrad Wines provided the festive tipples we needed.
There was something electric about seeing our supporters interact with the prints for the first time. I'd spent so many months behind closed doors, in the blinkered hole of entrepreneurship – it was great to release Curlicue to the world with the people I love the most.
Where would you like to see Curlicue in the next year?
I would love to see our prints stocked by retailers. I know we tend to buy online, but there's something that makes all the work feel real when you see your own products being sold in a physical space.
We're hoping to focus on independent retailers, it's important to me to support small businesses, particularly in today's high street retail environment.
If you could change something in the past year, what would it be?
There's not a lot that I'd change; otherwise, I wouldn't be here, but there's so much I've learnt from. I've been making incremental decisions with Curlicue to avoid jumping too quickly and regretting it later. That said, the run-up to Christmas last year was insanely busy, and I totally burnt myself out! I will be better prepared this year and more conscious about giving myself some breathing space.
I'm still learning, but I'm going into our second year much more aware of looking after my mental health and not run at full steam all the time. I'm going to prioritise checking in with myself and taking down-time.
What are you most excited about for the year ahead?
We have a lot of new prints! I'm excited about the variety of designs, but there is one that holds a special place in my heart—Remembering Roy.
Roy was my father-in-law, and he passed away this year. We all miss him so much, and I wanted to remember him. He loved poppies and was a true English Gentleman. The poppy design was also on the Order of Service at his funeral.
I'm also excited to release the full range. It's been such a joy working with the artists and designers of the prints over the past year. I cannot wait to see the world's reactions to our gorgeous, beautiful, eco-friendly gift wrap. I think one, in particular, Secret Santa, is going to be very popular! The artist, Andy Turk, has created an intricate design with a vintage feel – I love it!