By Babs Rodriguez
Photos by Jill Johnson
Animal prints are practically a neutral, bangle stacks are a must and shoes must be comfortable in Cassie Kruemcke’s world of adventurous mix-and-match
Cassie Kruemcke tangles with tigers daily — whether as beaded earrings, sequined appliques or on textiles.
She leans into leopard prints, too, but is finicky about which ones make her purr. If that implies a fashion fearlessness, consider her color palette, which right now runs to pinks and reds with black and white accents. It sounds like a lot, but for Kruemcke — just north of 5 feet tall — it all works brilliantly thanks to her tight focus on balance and scale. Cut loose from a 25-year career in advertising in 2020, she melded an understanding of branding with her love of texture, pattern and color to create a gift wrap and fashion accessory business that is personified by her personal style.
The word Wirrwarr is German for a mix of unrelated things; think somewhere between a muddle and chaos. But Kruemcke defines WirrWarr Wrap’s imaginative mashup as a compelling sort of zaniness that makes any gift memorable. Just ask the long line of customers winding out of her booth at events such as Fort Worth’s Christmas in Cowtown or attending the pop-up classes. She designs her own paper and gift tags and curates packs of interesting ribbons (a single ribbon just won’t do), all intended to be reusable.
Surprisingly, she claims her personal style builds on a basic preppiness, and she admits to being a fan of J. Crew and Ann Taylor: “Then you add the layers.” In her world, that means mixing in the graphic prints, interesting color combos and strong silhouettes from lines such as Lingua Franca — known for its cheeky options for customizing sweaters and more — and Frances Valentine, who brings iconic flair to the classics.
“But my go-to style icon is 1,000 percent Blair Eadie of Atlantic-Pacific. Her ability to be eclectic and elegant is chef-kiss worthy. She’s a master of scale and proportion as well as color and pattern — I’m sure that’s what draws me to her.
Just spend a few minutes with Kruemcke’s “Outfit of the Day” posts on Instagram and you will get a taste of how boldly she layers her looks. Statement style is her thing, which surprises the self-described introvert. “Maybe, subconsciously, I’ve used it as an ice breaker.” It took a nudge from a friend to get her to embrace her own creativity as a business (she has a degree in graphic design). But in November 2018, she hit the ground running with her gift-wrapping classes (then a side gig), even designing and printing her own papers just weeks out from Christmas. Several of her patterns are also now available on silk scarves, one of her go-to accessories.
Of her wardrobe choices, she says that she has “always been very colorful” but may have gravitated toward oversize things — from the wood beads of her signature necklaces to her eyeglasses — because of her diminutive size and eye for balance. “I love to mix sizes, shapes, patterns and textures; I think there’s an art to it. But as for what I wear, it’s all about comfort.”
We look at the tigers on her padded shoulders, the beaded earrings that look like inverted exclamation points, the stack of Lucite bracelets accented by a Chanel bangle and think, “Really?” But then she breaks it down: “This is just a T-shirt,” she says. “It is soft, it is comfortable, and the shoulder pads make a statement that I’ve decided to seize during the brief window of time when they are back in style.”
The jewelry? “Everything is lightweight,” she says, giving a shake of her head that swings the earrings she designed in collaboration with Connecticut bead artist Beth Ladd. Even the oversize wood beads on the necklace of her own design don’t weigh her down.
“I don’t always dress up, especially when I am not going anywhere, but I do always accessorize,” she says. A devoted runner, she says her friends laugh at her need to add a little something extra even to her exercise clothes. “Listen,” she says, “a bandana has saved the day more than once.”
Not shy about taking anything up a notch, Kruemcke calls her knack for commanding attention — whether with her ribbon strip kits or her clothes — “The WirrWarr Way,” a phrase she has trademarked.
The day we visit, we discuss her look from head to toe, finally noting that she is wearing slightly puffy fuchsia flip-flops, obviously comfortable but with a casual elegance.
She notes that as feminine as today’s outfit is, she finds the details in the menswear-style footwear from The Office of Angela Scott inspiring and is especially fond of the designer’s wingtips.
Then again, she is a fan of fun sneakers, too. “I like to wear them with skirts.” High heels, although she loves the look of them, are a no-go. “I can’t move fast enough,” she says. “And I like to get where I am going with intention.”
WirrWarr Wraps Cassie Kruemcke offers pop-up wrapping classes using paper and cheeky gift tags she has designed along with her curated ribbon strip kits. Check with her for personal services and corporate gift-wrapping. Follow Kruemcke on social media for event information. To purchase gift wrap and fashion accessories, visit her website. Her next class is Dec. 5 at Neighbor’s House Grocery in downtown Fort Worth. wirrwarrwraps.com and instagram.com/wirrwarrwraps