Sunday, December 12, 2010

****Lost DownThe Packaging Rabbit Hole****

Lets just say despite all of my preparedness, I still didn't have a clue about packaging......or its costs

As a fellow bootcamper, I thought all of these past weeks had truly prepared me for a holiday rush.  In reading each weeks reading list I made my appropriate notes, jotted down a to-do list and would go to sleep feeling confident.  I KNEW what I was doing.  Unfortunately all of that went out the window in terms of packaging with the holiday season and....YAY!!!! first big sale on Etsy.

For weeks, I have been racking my brain thinking about how I wanted to present my products to my  buyers.  The first big obstacle has been business cards.  With so many companies offering free cards, I had decided to start with one of them and hopefully get lucky with a cool design and more importantly a business card.  I turned what should have been a simple task into a never-ending project all because I wanted something different and not what was available.  Empty handed I left that battle and moved on to adding new items for the shop, trying to increase traffic and all together wondering if I really needed to go ahead with even bothering with business cards as things were looking rather bleek as Black Friday and Cyber Monday began to roll around.  

Still trudged on and soon I was out picking up new beads and supplies. I began chatting it up with one of the associates at the bead store...she may have even been the owner but my networking skills are another topic...and we ended up talking off and on during my visit. Ofcourse my jewelry came up and as I talked up my shop and showed off the pieces I was wearing, the dreaded moment arrived when a business card would have been handy and instead I found myself writing my blog and Etsy store info on a very nice piece of paper with a fancy pen....atleast I had that in my purse.  And if that wasn't a slap in the face, I found myself repeating the last step about four times during my supply run.  Officially driving in the fact that I had to do something about the business cards.

However that was not the only lesson learned.  Packaging has also been a whirlwind experience. 

With the holiday season here and many purchases on Etsy being gifts, it only makes sense that gift wrapping be a part of the purchase and because I am really trying to gain customers I felt it would be best to make it complimentary. A lot of other stores offer it free as well and I figured it couldn't hurt. But what would my gift wrapping look like?  As this was a topic during a past bootcamp week, I had already found a really good supplier online for boxes and quite a few fellow Etsians that offer some really great supplies as well.  The problem, unfortunately, was that with Black Friday and Cyber Monday around the corner (this all happened the week before Thanksgiving) I may be cutting it close with delivery.  Instead I headed out to a bunch of stores and searched endless trying to come up with something as I had no idea what I wanted.  I can't really remember a time when I found myself without ideas and I'm just going to chock it up to the other stressors in my life. Then, during my 9-5, a lightbulb went off and I had it.  Black matte wrapping paper with feather ribbon and a hang tag with my logo.  Its definitely no out of the box idea, but it seemed like a perfect fit.  And just when I thought I had finally stopped falling, I broke thru a very thin layer of ground and continued.

My first dilemma was that I technically didn't have a logo of sorts.  My avatars for Etsy have always been pictures of my latest work and as for my avatar for my blog and other social networks its not a picture that can easily translate into a logo.  Next option came in the form of a stamp.  I had once found a small one that said "Handcrafted Especially For You" and I went on a mad search for it coming up empty handed yet again. Then I thought well maybe I could find a stamp in the shape of woman's silhouette.  It would tie into Naughty Baubles well and would be different.  Not so lucky there either.  After much time spent out (yes this pretty much all happened in one weekend), I found myself in a delirious state and my creativity finally took over.  Peaking through a clearance bin, my best friend honed in on an adorable bunny stamp and instantly I knew that was it.  My whole slew of ideas turned into one and more shopping...and returning...commenced.

But then Black Friday came and went with little bells and whistles and the same for Cyber Monday and again I found my spirits low. I had worked myself into a fit and ended up not even using what I bought. Channeling my frustrations, I started tweaking a few things on my blog as I had teamed up with another blogger (The Little Dust Princess) on a giveaway which was really amazing.  The winner will receive a beautiful necklace that I recently made and if your interested you should definitely check it out HERE. I also decided I should really take some time and get into my analytics.  I had done a lot of viral marketing and postings about my Black Friday/Cyber Monday deals and although no sale resulted in all of it, I definitely wanted to know if any of it had translated into more traffic.  Now I did see my views increase on some of my items but I needed to know if it was general traffic or from my links.

Then it happened. I HAD A SALE!!!!

Seeing as I got the news while at work, on my lunch break I ran over to and picked up some last little bits to complete the packaging. I needed glue dots to avoid using tape, bubble wrap, more ribbon, and better ink for my stamp.  Well one of the necklaces fit perfectly in boxes I had already purchased but the second necklace had a pendant that wouldn't fit in the shallow box and it was quite difficult finding a box that would work. But I found one and before I knew the packages were off.

However it was when I was cleaning up the mess that I really began to learn my last holiday season lesson.  Stamping proved to be messy and I ruined about half of the pack of tags that I bought.  My rolls of ribbon were more like trial sizes and I had only a little bit left of the roll I opened.  I also remembered that my ribbon was holiday ribbon and if I can't find the remaining rolls in stores its all over.  I bought alphabet stickers and used all of the N's and B's the pack offered and lastly...and more importantly...took a harsh look at what I spent and almost fainted.  My complimentary packaging could have nearly ruined any profits off of sale.  Luckily for me I have better luck in buying beading supplies at great prices compared to packaging.  Now I'm not going to completely take away the added gift wrapping but new items listed from here on out will include the cost of offering it.  And its so funny because pricing had its own week in bootcamp and one of the articles clearly gave a breakdown of how to come up with what to charge.  I guess its really hard to factor in variables you have yet to began to uncover. 

So after all of the indecisiveness and lessons learned, I finally have a standard in packaging and I really wished I would have done all of this sooner.  However I am also happy to introduce the Naughty Bunny of Naughty Baubles.....I love it and she is officially going to be on everything!!  I found it so easy to talk about what I wanted in my packaging but having and idea and actually executing it proved to be extremely difficult.  At least the shipping was seamless........

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