Monday, March 23, 2009

Making It!: Packaging

The Art of Packaging
by Cassie Gray

Getting a package in the mail is one of life’s most fundamental pleasures. Even when I’m expecting it (when I’ve ordered it), I still get a thrill when a package arrives in my mailbox. So when someone buys something from me, I want them to get that same thrill—and to love the presentation as much as the purchase itself.

>> click here to continue reading Making It: Packaging

Recently, I ordered a “roundy tough ruffles” bag in tones of navy blue from Made By Hank. I knew the bag would be gorgeous, but I was pleasantly surprised by the inventive packaging. From the way the manila envelope was sewn closed (brilliant touch!) to the use of shipping tags as business cards, I was smitten with the whole buying experience. And really, isn’t that what makes buying handmade so incredibly satisfying—the connection we feel with the singular artist, the care and skill that goes in to not only the piece, but its presentation? I asked Katie about the evolution of her packaging and whether she economizes or splurges. She said: "I have had similar packaging all along, though it has evolved a bit over the months, and become much more consistent, as I am now able to purchase supplies in larger quantities. I have also done a bit of research to find just the right items. I suppose I do splurge a little on the packaging, but I do feel that it is very important. Not only is it fun for me, because I basically get to wrap lots of 'presents', but I think it's fun for the customer also. After all, they are buying themselves a gift, so i like to present it that way. Buying supplies in bulk has certainly cut down on costs, and enabled me to keep doing what I do."

Personally, I’ve struggled over my three years on Etsy with my packaging, trying to find a happy medium between the splurge and the practical. At first I was using these lovely little natural muslin bags to package everything. Customers loved them and usually commented on the bags in their feedback. But the bags required extra layers of bubble wrap to protect the jewelry, and eventually I just couldn’t justify putting any more of that stuff into the world than was absolutely necessary. So I switched to jewelry boxes. First glossy black, then colored—but still not perfect. I landed on kraft boxes, and the ones I now use contain 100% recycled content (which fills me with relief). You can get them printed with your logo, but I’ve created a cost-cutting solution that I prefer: I had a stamp made (just $8!) with a little flower logo that matches my business cards, and I stamp all my boxes by hand. It takes time but I think it really adds to the love-and-care factor. In addition, every order I ship includes a handwritten note from me. It’s become such a ritual I can’t imagine sending a package out without one—and is another piece that really conveys individual attention.

Recently, I ditched the ribbon spools I’d been purchasing (though I love them!) for an even more eco-friendly and cost-effective pretty touch: organic yarn. I have two skeins sitting around that, because I can’t knit to save my life, will never get used as intended. So why let them go to waste? I wrap the yarn several times around the box for a lovely, natural effect. I also have some black lace edging that I got at a yard sale several years ago. The black lace lends a certain saucy flavor to the box, and will be great for wrapping my more modern pieces.

The missing links in my packaging formula are:
1) a freebie (lots of folks give them out, but I’m really ambivalent about them: do they just end up getting thrown out? Also, what's an appropriate jewelry-related freebie?) and
2) my business card. My near future plans include hiring someone to create a logo for me and then getting real business cards made (I currently print my own). But I’m also really drawn to the professionally-printed card inserts that go into the boxes and support the jewelry inside. Pros: so professional, so fancy, so chic! Cons: expensive, potentially wasteful, and I’d have to pass the cost on to customers. Right now I just use scraps from the colored paper I use for the thank-you notes to create little hanging cards for the jewelry. It's totally cost-effective, but it's probably the least professional thing about my packaging.

It’s such a fine balance to strike: creating a memorable purchase experience for your customer while also keeping your costs down and trying to be green about it at the same time. If you want to ogle other’s packaging, I like these two searches on flickr: jewelry packaging and etsy packaging. And I’d love to hear your thoughts on freebies, business cards, and striking the right balance with your packaging.

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Home Deconomics said...

I love coming up with packaging! Whether it's to mail it or sell it or both. Usually my attempts to recycle elements for packaging are foiled by the need for bulk supplies.

Melissa de la Fuente said...

This series is awesome Cassie and Marichelle! Such grea inside information....and I agree with you about Katie's packaging....absolutely sublime!

Elena said...

I totally fall short in the packaging department. My head just doesn't work that way. As for the business cards: try Super cheap and super fast. I got 500 glossy cards for $23!

elodee said...

I'm always working to perfect the whole shabang! I love these ideas. I love this article!

Marichelle said...

Cassie, you know how much I loved this post. I'm all about packaging and I really do enjoy sitting there and wrapping up orders - maybe because it reminds me of Christmas??

As for freebies, I try to choose things that the person can reuse. Usually it's something vintage like a handmade flower that I attach to the box. I've also used individually wrapped rock candy before - I usually try to match the vibe with the specific item.

Cherry Runway said...

Great post!! I have been RACKING my brain for tecniques for my packaging.

Thanks for inspiring me. :)

Shannon said...

thank you for these awesome ideas. Another way to make someone's purchase more than just a purchase!

Anonymous said...

I also use next day flyers for my business cards:
These packaging ideas are so unique. Thanks, Cassie!