Since her childhood, Annam Ishtiaq, 27, was inclined towards art and creativity. Keeping her interests in mind, her family and friends would always gift Annam craft books, colours, pencils etc instead of Barbie dolls and stuff, which young girls would like to play with. But her preference was either painting or crafting something.
Throughout her school days, she took part and won prizes in different competitions related to art and crafts.
Same is true with grown-up Annam. She could not part ways with her childhood passion even after completing her BTech and opted out of two jobs to start her own business of gift wrapping.
“I still remember the little me getting lost in my wonderland for hours with my colours, painting books, and crafting things,” says Annam, who grew up in Jammu. After completing her schooling from Presentation Convent School, Jammu, she pursued BTech from DIT Dehradun in electronics and communications.
“Despite pursuing engineering, I could not restrict the artist inside me and frequently took part in different activities related to art and craft,” she says.
After completing her BTech, Annam worked for two multi-national companies in Gurgaon but ultimately decided to quit.
“It was a great learning experience but gradually I realised that technical job was not my thing. It would not bring me the happiness they way I would get from creating something of my own,” she says.
Though she decided to do something related to the art and craft but for some time she was not able to decide what exactly she would do. It was during her wedding when she could not find a good packing place in Srinagar that she thought of opening one herself.
“I explored the whole city for someone who could do the job professionally. But all I found was gift wrapping sheets, some bows and ribbons but no one to ensemble it into a beautiful gift hamper. It is very tough to do this job at home where there is already hassle around wedding days,” says Annam.
This way the seeds of ‘Wrap it up by Annam’ started growing in her mind.
“It was only after my marriage when I discussed this idea with my husband who pushed me for taking it seriously. I was little skeptical about it in the beginning but he made me believe that it will work,” she says.
At that time Annam thought that being creative is not enough and if she has to take up gift wrapping as a profession then she should go for proper training. As the first step of her business, she did a certificate course in wedding trousseau and gift packing.
“After completing the course, when I returned back to Kashmir the first thing I did was that I just grabbed a Samawar, wrapped it, and uploaded it on Instagram and it made an instant mark,” she says.
Annam believes that social media is a blessing nowadays. It gave her a platform to begin this journey without investing in a physical store.
“The way people enthusiastically reciprocated boosted my confidence,” says Annam.
As Annam started receiving orders, she looked for the best available material and other exquisite things from outside.
In less than a year, Annam has 5000 followers on Instagram and has delivered more than 200 orders across India. Presently, she is handling on an average eight orders daily.
She makes full use of social media to promote her business and connect with the people. From placing orders to updating customers and delivering orders, her page on Instagram has played a vital role in promoting her business.
She is not just confined to weddings, she also provides other gifting and packing services like chocolate hampers, baby shower gifts, cosmetic baskets, dry fruit hampers, birthday gift hampers, etc.
Annam, probably the first female commercial gift packer of Kashmir, aspires to open her own brick and mortar store in future by the same name ‘Wrap it up by Annam’.
Annam says that her journey made her realise that nothing that is worthwhile is ever easy but it gives confidence and satisfaction that nothing is impossible.
“In fact, excellence becomes easier if one follows their passion. I feel very delighted when I see young people especially women like myself taking to entrepreneurship and working towards the path of development,” she says.