Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Holiday Prep for Handmade Business, Part 3: Packaging

When a customer receives a package from your handmade business, they should be excited! They are opening something special.  The packaging should reflect how unique the contents are.  What can you do to stand apart without investing significant amounts of time and money on intricate wrapping?

product packaging
Via Cutiepie Company on Flickr

Packaging handcrafted goods can be both fun and challenging.  Finding the right details to set the tone takes time.  Think of the word handmade.  What do you envision? To me, it resonates with original, imperfect, detailed, and creative.  I do not think of it as busy, overbearing, or trying too hard.

I relish the little details.  Simple, clever additions that don't try to go overboard. The use of decorative edge scissors.  Textures on bows or fabric. Stamps and stickers can be good ways to include your theme without being overly expensive. Reusing items in a surprising way.  A pleasing color scheme. What materials will invoke your product and your self  into the overall look of the parcel?

The gift shown here from Cutiepie Company is the perfect example.  It is wrapped in elementary school writing paper.  Very simple, yet a surprising choice. They have added a ribbon - small, not complex, and complimentary to the lines on the paper. Stamping the recipient's name is great. The font is legible and not overly sophisticated.  Red stands out on the paper and brings to mind a teacher's grade at the top of the page.  I would guess the package might hold a journal, stationery, or special writing set.

Consider the recipient of your item.  Do you sell to men and women? Simplify things by going with gender neutral packaging.  The gift in the photo could be for anyone of any age on any occasion.  It is charming enough to be a holiday gift.  Try to find wrapping that works year round.  This makes things easier on you as a seller.

As you prepare to ship those holiday orders for your handmade business, reflect on the presentation of your goods.  What message are you giving about the contents?

Visit my earlier posts on holiday preparations for shipping  and materials.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Holiday Prep for Handmade Business, Part 2: Materials

Last week I took an inventory of my materials.  This can be a dull process, but it must be done.  When holiday orders are coming in, who wants to turn customers away because they ran out of yarn to knit scarves or silver to make necklaces?

Some tips to prepare a Handmade Business for the Holidays:

  • Set aside time to look through your goods now.
  • Which materials are running low?
  • Estimate which of your items will be in demand.  What is generating the most interest? Consider getting extra materials to produce more of that particular favorite.
  • Planning a new piece for your line? The holidays could be a good time to introduce something different to draw in fresh buyers and bring back previous customers.  What supplies are necessary to create this? 
  • Don't forget about office supplies: tape, printer ink, labels, business cards, pens, etc.   
  • Make a detailed list of needed items and, when possible, a notation of where to purchase.
Getting that order for materials in now means that you can price compare.  Who will give you the best deal? Do you have any discount codes to use before they expire at year's end? Ordering early eliminates the need to pay extra for rush delivery to your shop. You'll have time to wait for standard shipping. Finally, if anything is on back order, you have a head's up to plan for this inconvenience.

Read an earlier post on preparing for holiday shipping here.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Holiday Prep for Handmade Business, Part 1: Shipping Materials

The Holidays are rapidly approaching, and a handmade business needs to be prepared. Customers' orders should be shipped promptly. Having suitable packaging materials ready to go will accelerate the process.  

The jewelry I send is first placed into a gift box. This keeps pieces secure during mailing, and the item arrives ready to be given as a present - no additional wrapping required.  I consider the dimensions of my handmade goods when deciding which size gift box will work best.  A few more things to contemplate:  Is there a particular item that is popular with buyers? Will I be selling custom orders? If so, I may need more of one specific size box than others. Estimate and plan for this.  Rio Grande has a nice selection of jewelry packaging. Their gift boxes are available in a number of sizes or can be purchased in variety packs.

Once gift boxes are resolved, it is time to choose shipping materials.  I do a fair amount of online shopping.  This occasionally leaves me with bubble wrap and kraft wrap.  If clean and like new, the wrap can be reused for my own shipping purposes. I simply store it away until needed.

A box full of boxes
 Boxes for mailing my jewelry must be small, yet big enough to accommodate the aforementioned gift boxes.  I recently ordered from  Uline.  Their shipping boxes come in every shape imaginable. I am a visual person, so I drew the length and width of the shipping box that I was considering buying onto a piece of paper.  Then I  placed a gift box inside the lines to evaluate the fit. Keep a ruler handy to check the height.  Most boxes are sold in bundles, which allows Uline to have competitive pricing. However, they only send orders via UPS, so plan for this extra expense.

How do you streamline holiday shipping?