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All wrapped up

With Mother's Day around the corner, author Vikkie Triantafyllou talks business, gift hampers, and her little daughter's heart of gold

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12 May 2017

The story is a familiar one that many women face while on maternity leave from their careers in the corporate world: the appeal of staying home with their children longer and working from home, often overpowering that of returning to the hustle and bustle of a 9-to-5 job. Vikkie Triantafyllou had worked in human resources for many years and when the time came to start her family and take some time off, she began wondering if there was anything out there more satisfying for her. This is her success story.

Vikkie is a highly organised, self proclaimed "organisational freak", who has always loved going all out for her friends' milestones. Whenever there was something to celebrate, whether it be a birthday, a house warming or the neighbours getting a new puppy, Vikkie found herself excited by putting together a hamper to celebrate the occasion. Naturally, when brainstorming new ventures after the birth of her second child, the idea to start a gift hamper business was one that made most sense.

Not knowing how to begin this new venture she just simply went out and bought inventory, without thinking too far ahead and just taking 'baby steps'. Buy the stock, assemble hampers, take photos, set up a website, etc but it became evident quite quickly that it was much more work than she had anticipated. Vikkie decided her next move would be to look into buying an existing business, with an established client base, only to have her hopes crushed after a few phone calls to business brokers, being advised that "gift hamper businesses are a very rare business to go up for sale".

Having decided to not give up, but rather, soldier on with her original plan, Vikkie was beyond excited to receive a call a few months later informing her of an opportunity to buy an existing gift hamper business from a person with a very impressive resume, including two-time Telstra Business Woman of the year finalist, author, and business mentor. Vikkie describes it as the "opportunity of a lifetime that came knocking and I just grabbed it and ran," she also describes having a "gut feeling" that she was going to be successful in attaining it. She was right, and after meeting with other interested parties, they were convinced that Vikkie was the perfect fit for their brand and felt completely confident in handing it over. The business had been established for four years with regular corporate clients and many returning personal customers, so the owner wanted to be sure she was handing her hard work over to someone that could continue the success as well as being able to take it to the next level.

Vikkie took over in March 2016 after multiple weeks of meetings, negotiations, contracts, and visits with lawyers, admitting at times she felt completely overwhelmed by it all and attributes the win to the help of her husband Frank having a background in business ownership himself and knowing what was involved in tough contractual negotiations.

After the first day in her new role as the owner of Gift Wrapped Up, Vikkie found herself in an excited whirlwind as the first orders began coming through, stopping to do a little 'happy dance' with her daughters, as every completed order went off. Those happy dances quickly took a back seat as the orders piled in and deadlines needed to be met, Vikkie priding herself on fast turn around and reliability. Although there was a lot of hard work, Vikkie still had the desire to give the brand a 'makeover', revamping the packaging to include more of a 'wow factor' as well as removing some of the older, less desirable hampers. Forty new hampers were launched within a few months, which in itself was a tremendous feat, and a plethora of new items were gradually added. Vikkie's personal additions included gorgeous vintage baby suitcases, Paddington Bears, MOR pamper products and cookbooks from world-acclaimed chefs, to name a few.

With Christmas around the corner it was evident the next challenge was going to be marketing. Vikkie found herself taking calculated risks, but nonetheless risks, in the hope that new opportunities and collaborations would present themselves. They did, and the demand of these orders meant that Vikkie had to hire her first employee to be able to keep up. Success. Those few weeks leading up to Christmas saw all past sales records smashed and gave Vikkie the confidence to know that her risks were now showing reward, as well as self-confidence in her ability to run the business successfully.
Vikkie admits, "There is still a lot of work ahead and changes to be made so that I am 100 per cent happy with the website, photos etc, but I'm looking forward to continuing this journey. I'm also extremely proud to be doing it, as well as being at home and raising our two gorgeous daughters Elektra and Stefanie."

Gift Wrapped Up specialises in corporate hampers for real estate settlement gifts, newborns, birthdays, Mother's Day, Father's Day, Christmas and many other occasions as well as custom boxes.

All hampers are beautifully packaged in shiny red boxes with extravagant white bows and can be shipped locally as well as nationally. For corporate clients, personalised ribbons with company logos are available as well as greeting cards to complement the gift and add a more personal touch.

With no plans on slowing down any time soon, when I asked Vikkie what she has planned next she let me in on a personal project she is working on which seemed worthy of a mention. Her five-year-old daughter Elektra, clearly her entrepreneurial mother's daughter, with a heart of gold had the idea to raise money for charity and donate her Rapunzel-like locks which they found grew so quickly they were regularly getting trims.

"Elektra would always ask me why sick people wore head scarves and I would have to explain to her that it was because they were unwell and had lost their hair. One day in particular she saw a little girl around the same age as her with one on and asked me if she was sick. I told her that yes, she was, and then, so innocently, she asked me if she could give her some of her hair. I said 'in a way we could' and it all stemmed from that," Vikkie tells me, evidently still touched by her daughter's kind nature.

They plan to cut her hair in the coming months, in collaboration with Blo Bar in Oakleigh who were so touched with the story they have volunteered their services.

Donations can be made at https://alopecia.everydayhero.com/au/elektra-s-big-chop

To see more Gift Wrapped Up hampers head to the website giftwrappedup.com.au

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