I thank my lucky stars every day that Little Eye is still little. However, what was once a tiny idea unfolding in my notebooks, attic studio and collections is now a little business, experiencing somewhat of an adolescence. If you can remember (I blocked out most of my teens, too!) this is a time of life fraught with difficulties: finding your identity, fitting in with others, learning to play by the rules. After two years of being ‘open for business’ (but not actually, since L.E. only started actually making money this year!) it’s become clear to me something that was missing for a long time: branding.
There are lots of pieces to branding, but tonight I wanted to write a quick piece about packaging, how to do it, and why it’s so important.
1. What did you need to start packaging your items?
Hey Audrey, glad you asked! In order to design packaging you either need a graphic designer and a good chunk of change or, the following: a logo, a ‘color scheme,’ a font (just one, two TOPS), and a theme. You’ll also need a working knowledge of some kind of design program – because I’m a photographer, I use Adobe Photoshop but I should totally learn InDesign because that would be way better. It might also be nice to have a printer with some black ink – color ink, optional, in my most humble of opinions.
2. Where did you start?
This fake interview is really silly. But I’ll answer my question, anyways. I started off by designing a logo based off the bottle cap shape. I love the colors red, baby blue and white together so this is my ‘color scheme’ when it’s applicable. But I hate buying color ink because it’s so expensive and it never looks right, so the color logo (above) is really only used online. The font in the logo is one that I decided long ago (after flipping through all 500 on my computer) was ‘just right’ for the mood and the mission at Little Eye. Some rudimentary line drawing and a layer of text and the ‘logo’ was complete. It should be noted at this point that I’m not 100% happy with it (I would like to change the text around a bit) but if you are futzing with things until you’re 100% happy you might as well start off the whole branding process by turning in an application to the nearest temp agency because you’re not going to get anywhere! Trust me, I futzed for two years.
3. Ok, so then what?
I realized that customers were having a hard time picking up/focusing in on my products because it was usually presented in a bin full of bottle cap pins or magnets, which is really fun to root around in for some people but a complete nightmare for others. I wanted to be able to curate small collections for people, came up with the idea of selling a set of 3 for $5 ($1 off the normal price for 3!) and wanted a nifty way to package it and have some control over what people were seeing. Enter: the set of 3 design:
Here’s where we can get down to the composition of the packaging and the elements I definitely wanted (and maybe you’d want?) on a product that people will be taking home and/or giving as a gift. (A sidenote here: I’m getting déja vu because I remember reading so many times about how ‘great presentation’ made all the difference when I used to read the Etsy blog. And I was like ‘Ha ha, whatever, my stuff is so awesome it’ll sell itself,’ …sorry, Etsy, you were right… This time!!)
4. Awesome! How’d you put that bad boy together??
First things first. I sized a new document in Adobe to be slightly smaller than a cellophane bag that I pre-ordered (oodles of!) that would fit the purpose. Cellophane bags are WICKED important, because it makes customers feel like they can pick things up and look at them instead of admire them from about 3 feet away. That’s no good for the bottle caps OR my bank account…
The header at the top is a revamped version of the logo – because I have my business information below I can use the ‘bottle cap’ corona to frame the product. That way when someone picks it up and says “Hey, cool, bottle caps with pictures in them!” they’ll also be able to read that they are pins, as well. You don’t know it yet, but you can’t actually tell they’re pins from the packaging. Because I am sneaky… you’ll see.
Underneath the corona you’ll see three shaded lines – these are my guidelines for cutting slices in the paper once the packaging is printed so that the pin backs will fit snugly through the paper. They don’t show up in the final product.
Beneath I felt like I wanted to have a little more information than my business name and web address (you should always have these on your packaging!!) Because I’ve been pushing custom orders lately I included a little note about how to get in touch if someone is interested. I get a lot of inquiries about custom work at craft shows, but never have cards to hand out. This solves both of those problems!
I surrounded the whole thing in a black border, which is part of my ‘look’ that I hope signals people to recognize my products wherever they are shopping.
5. Tell me more.
Demanding! Ok, the last bit I’ll jump ahead to – I ran in to the issue of the pin backs showing through and created a companion piece to go on the back of the packaging for a finished look. It is kind of fluffy, doesn’t have a lot of ‘selling’ info, but I think it is a nice finish for a customer who appreciates details.
Now, here are some nice pictures to show you:
Here’s a picture of how the pins poke through the back of the front card. I make a barbell-shaped slit with an exacto knife for each slit and push the pins through, then fasten them with scotch tape to make sure that the pins don’t get unsettled when I lug them around to shops/craft fairs. But it’s kinda yucky looking, so I finished the back off like this:
Each set of 3 has a slightly different color combination of the paper used for the front piece and the paper used for the insert on the back. This insert is wide enough to cover the pins but narrow enough so you get a nice contrast of colors on the back! Little Eye is kind of a playful line, so I love that I can print on whatever color paper I have available and then put them together and see what kind of chromatic magic happens.
Here are some sets that I’ve put together in the last couple of days. I’m really loving picking and choosing the pins for people who may not have the time to sort through bins of pins. Hoping to have packaging for magnets, and ‘six packs’ (get it? bottle caps? huh? huh?) ready for the holiday season along with some hand knit accessories and maybe some screen printed kid’s clothes, as well. Busy busy busy. Enjoy: