For Meagan Downey, joining a makerspace was not about being a maker. It was about being a problem-solver.
While volunteering for a holiday fundraiser at her daughter’s school, Meagan noticed a serious lack of options for sustainable gift wrapping. She saw a gap – and wanted to fill it with an easily accessible, affordable alternative to the throw-away stuff. Her vision for Shiki Wrap, her now nationally acclaimed business, started to take shape.
In 2021, Meagan applied to Generator’s JumpStart program, a 10-week entrepreneurial program for product-based startups, and was accepted. “I did not know how to sew a stitch or what the GSM of fabric was,” she says. What she did have though, was determination. “I had a real sense of urgency around solving a problem for myself and my customers and needed help figuring it out.”
Through JumpStart, Meagan gained access to our sewing studio and five other technical workshops to prototype her product. Meagan worked not only with her JumpStart coach and fellow cohort members during this time, but also with advisors from the greater Generator community. In collaboration with her new network, Meagan iterated and advanced her prototype significantly in our facility. She arrived at Shiki Wrap: reusable gift wrap made of soft, stretchy fabric derived from recycled plastic.
Shiki Wrap was largely inspired by traditional Japanese furoshiki, in which gift-givers wrapped their present with fabric, intending to give the wrapping as a part of their offering. In keeping with this tradition, Shiki Wrap is beautifully designed. The product comes in many colorful patterns dreamed up by experienced graphic designers, illustrators, and creative directors. The product requires no ribbons or bows – customers can easily tie the fabric around their gift with a clean, simple knot, saving time and money, not to mention additional waste. And it’s machine-washable!
With the Shiki Wrap prototype ready, Meagan graduated from JumpStart and was accepted to LaunchVT, a business acceleration service-provider and long-time partner of Generator. Meagan excelled in the program and proceeded to win the LaunchVT Demo Night Grand Prize. Since then, Shiki Wrap has garnered both local and national recognition. This past holiday season, the product was featured in the Style section of New York Times.
Keeping it in the Community
Meagan now works at our neighbor coworking space Hula, but stays connected with our Generator community in many ways. “I love supporting other founders and creators I meet through Generator,” she says. “It was the best place to launch my business. I remain forever grateful to the awesome staff and Generator community for supporting me on my journey.”