J’Aaron “Jae” Merchant, Jasmine Hudson and Madia Willis have cofounded a company that produces Black-themed gift wrap. Photos provided


BENTONVILLE, ARWho doesn’t love tearing open a meticulously wrapped gift from under the Christmas tree?  But for many minority children, the festive images of White families in holiday sweaters or a White Santa and his elves delivering presents doesn’t reflect their family or experience.

Black Paper Party was born out of a love of Black culture and recognition that imagery of Black families and their experience are underrepresented during the holiday season.  By offering a collection of gift wrap, gift bags and Christmas ornaments that feature Black families, Santas, angels and gnomes (humorously dubbed “gnomies”), Black Paper Party hopes to make Christmas more inclusive and reflective of the Diaspora. 

Founded in 2019 by three Black women, including a Cincinnati natiive, with over 25 years of combined experience in retail, product development and creative design, Black Paper Party will spread joy to every person who receives a gift presented in the brand’s wrapping paper, gift bags or one of their signature ornaments. 

Jasmine Hudson (from Cincinnati and Chief Merchandising Officer) is an entrepreneurial retail professional with a track record of developing, launching and scaling major national brands and products.  Born and raised in Cincinnati, Jasmine earned her degree in e-commerce and supply chain management from Tennessee State University.  Upon graduation, she joined the team at Walmart, holding several positions in merchandising including buying and financial planning of portfolios valued at over $2.3 billion in sales annually. She recently completed her term as a board member of Havenwood.

Jasmine Hudson, of Cincinnati, displays one of the Black-themed gift wraps designed and produced by the company she and two other founders create.

Available in a wide variety of colors and designs, Black Paper Party’s 2021 Collection of Gift Wrap and Gift Bag is made in the USA. 

Other members of the founding team are:

  • J’Aaron “Jae” Merchant (Chief Product Designer) became the illustrator of Black Paper Party because of her passion for diverse representation through visual storytelling and digital media.  Originally from the US Virgin Islands, Jae earned her BFA from Savannah State University and studied animation at the Savannah College of Art & Design.  She has worked with Disney, Sesame Street, PBS Kids, creating characters and stories that reflect the modern world.  Jae also volunteers at Havenwood, a 2-year program designed to help single mothers overcome the obstacles that lead to homelessness while providing transitional housing for their families as they prepare for economic self-sufficiency and permanent housing. 
  • Madia Willis (Chief Executive Officer) is a Liberian-American designer and entrepreneur hailing from Washington, DC.  She received her BA from Columbia and fell in love with fashion and textiles while studying abroad in Ghana, where she later returned to launch a clothing line named Biribelle.  She continued her studies of textile design at Central Sr. Martins School of Art and Design in London, Drexel University and Philadelphia University.  She then worked as a textile designer at Target while also serving as the creative director of retention strategy informing solutions to create a diverse community at the corporation.  She then transitioned to a position in product development and sourcing at Walmart, successfully launching a $1 billion children’s brand.  She was most recently a senior level development manager at Five Below, providing art direction, product engineering, trend forecasting and merchandising for home, accessories and stationery products.

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