This year, Laczko says she is creating private holiday events themed around an “all-white, super warm and homey holiday.” Decorations will include homemade felt balls, mercury ornaments and white lights.
Laczko says she charges between $300 and $800 to decorate for a house party, which includes supplies and installation labor. Larger efforts, like restaurant displays, run from $500 to $1,000.
How she got the job
Laczko, who has long enjoyed decorating and wrapping presents, studied human resources at George Washington University and worked in that field after graduating in 2000. She transitioned to restaurant management and bartending in 2003, which she says is “far more focused on events.”
Laczko credits the restaurant industry with helping her to forge connections to people who had transitioned from the restaurant industry to event-planning. That led her to start decorating for friends’ businesses, and doing so helped others notice her work.
Laczko founded WrapGurl in 2008. She has expanded from just wrapping presents to decorating for five or six restaurants, bars and storefronts in the District (particularly for holidays), and event planning.
Her focus has been on small events, such as birthday parties, day-of coordination for weddings and corporate events with up to 100 people.
Who would want this job
Having “creativity is first and foremost,” says Laczko. Ambition helps, too. It’s important to be able to look for opportunities “in places where they otherwise might not exist.”
A beautifully wrapped gift can “brighten up a room — or the recipient’s face,” she says, so attention to detail is key. Patience and perfectionism doesn’t hurt, and being organized is especially crucial when it comes to event planning. And, Laczko says, an eye for colors and patterns is helpful but not necessary.
How you can get this job
For Laczko, WrapGurl has been a creative work-in-progress. “You definitely have to form your own niche,” she says.
Laczko recommends creating a blog or a page on Pinterest to showcase your work. “I think Pinterest is huge,” she says.
Magazines like InStyle and Real Simple help her stay abreast of trends in color and get ideas. Catalogs are good, too.
Gift-wrapping can be relatively low-cost to start, says Laczko, who launched her business quickly with supplies on-hand. Laczko recommends investing $500-$700 to create a wrapping station with supplies such as ribbon wheels and a paper cutter. She makes a lot of decorations by hand.
To build a client base, Laczko relied on networking and word-of-mouth references. She says it might be necessary to keep your day job while you get your business off the ground.
“Like a lot of dreams, it has to be sustained by something else,” she says. Case in point: Laczko also works as the general manager and events coordinator for Duplex Diner (2004 18th St. NW; 202-265-7828), an Adams Morgan restaurant she is decorating for Christmas. Last year, she decked it out with a scene depicting Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus, wrapped packages and a faux fireplace.
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