Pretty Packaging…

I’ve used this title before, anyone who reads this blog often knows I’m a bit obsessed by packaging.  One of the things I love about ordering from smaller sellers is the attention to detail they put into presenting their goods, it makes opening the delivery like Christmas morning and it’s something I savour, often making a coffee and waiting for a quiet moment so I can enjoy the experience uninterrupted.

I write this because  a delivery came the other day and I was disappointed in its appearance.  It was a handmade item that arrived in a huge jiffy bag (the item was a small one so it was a bit swamped, I have no problem with the actual jiffy!) and was simply wrapped in a crumpled see-through plastic bag.  No ribbon, no tissue, no brown paper and string.  Maybe I’ve just been spoilt, but it lessened the delight of the order, if I’m honest.

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In contrast, look what came this morning.  Now how sweet and really simple, plus inexpensive to do.  Brown paper and red ribbon.  Lovely.

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And inside?  Even more loveliness in the form of a poppy (I do put my money in the tin every year, without fail, I have always felt quite strongly about supporting the British Legion, but I often wear a more permanent poppy as I lose the paper ones in a second) and a felted strawberry brooch, both from the Etsy seller Jurooma.  I am thrilled with them both.  It shows how simple, but effective the wrapping can be and how much nicer that is to receive.

I know I’m not blogging often at the moment, my sewing mojo keeps coming and going and joy of joys, I have the youngest home sick again.  That sounds like life’s really miserable!  But actually it’s not at all, I’m happily ticking along and looking forward to a nice half term break, ideally without any vomiting kids.  That would be good.

Back soon with some sewing updates.

Oh and thanks to Ruth for the kind blog post about the apron giveaway win – much appreciated 🙂

Packaging 2012…

Perfect timing for us in the UK, that directly after the hose pipe ban kicks in, all it does is rain.  Oddly this actually makes me happy, I find it much easier to buckle down and work when it rains and I rather like the sound on the roof (the studio is directly under the eaves).  On a slightly less happy note our underfloor electic heating has broken in this room,  so it’s a bit nippy in here and I find myself working in fingerless gloves and wrapped in a scarf.  Not ideal.

And so, I have a new toy, which sadly I hate.

I have been happily making do for some time now with my trusty little corner cutters bought forever ago, they have served me well, cornering all my business cards etc, in fact pretty much anything not pinned down gets cornered around here (even the tooth fairy sends messages on little cornered cards), but they are hard work and not really up to the job of slicing through the many mounds of thick card I need them to.

So I upgraded to a ‘Corner Buddy’ made by LeMORE and in all honesty I hate it.  It’s a bit cheap and nasty, only it wasn’t cheap, it cost £60.  It does have interchangeable blades (4mm, 6mm, 10mm) that are replaceable and that was a main attraction for me, I need 6mm for my business cards and 10mm for brooch mounts and ideally something I can buy new blades for when these get blunt.

Now, I do need to give full credit to the on-line shop I bought them from (Joyce on-line), the 6mm blade that came with the ‘buddy’ has a kink and they didn’t hesitate to offer to replace it, they were also friendly and helpful on the phone and had I of called them before buying my corner cutter, I know they would have helped me choose one more appropriate to my needs (ie, slightly more expensive but better.  I would have paid more for the next grade up machine).

Anyway, it does do it’s job, so all is not lost, it doesn’t feel a quality piece of machinery but you get what you pay for and in terms of a heavier duty table top cutter it’s probably perfectly fine.  I try to tell myself this, anyway, then I will feel less disappointed.

I have been meaning to do a post on packaging for ages, the ones I’ve done in the past have been quite popular so I thought it’s time for an update.

I am quite particular about how things are packaged, partly for the customer’s experience but also for mine when it comes to storing and ease of getting orders ready and posted.

For instance, I used to pack the ‘Little Birds’ in PIP boxes (so the ribbon tails don’t get crushed), they were mounted, ready on A5 cards, then packed with tissue (apple green, as always) and a MOO mini card with beads attached to hold the tissue (using a green dot sticker, as above) and a thank you card.

This was a bit time consuming and the birds were quite difficult to store, so now I still mount them on the same cards but I have figured out a way to be able to also put them in cellophane bags, so they can be stacked for storage and stay nice and dust free, and I don’t have to worrying about the tails being crushed.  Perfect.

The cards I use for this are A5 size and printed by Overnight Prints.  I use the same cards, cut down for mounting flower brooches on.  I did consider, when placing my last order, getting some in A6 versions so I didn’t have to cut them, but I like the square look, and it was cheaper, in the long run, to bulk order A5 and halve them instead.

On this point, I have given up on paper cutters at the moment, I find they get blunt very quickly and in all fairness, most are not intended for cutting card, so I stick with my trusty Swann Morton surgical scalpel, a wooden cutting board from the kitchen (I’ve never bought a self healing matt) and 10A size blades (I have been using my scalpel handle since I was a design student, it has, and still is, serving me well).

I use a Woodcare Craft Collection hole punch, as it allows me to get holes quite far into the card….it’s not ideal and I could do with something a bit heavier weight, it needs to be able to punch at least 5cm in so any ideas are most welcome.

I swapped last year from using mini MOO’s on packages and additional ‘thank you’ cards to using a single business card on ribbon.  I also buy these from Overnight Prints, they are great quality, they do take a while to arrive and are maybe not the cheapest but I will always return here.

I found threading the wooden beads on the old MOO mini cards etc took up a lot of time and it seemed silly to have a separate details/thank you card plus a repeat attached to the packaging.  I’m pretty sure in a lot of cases these end up straight in the bin anyway.  As above, on my original business card order, I only had one side printed and used a stamp for the other.  I was trying to cut corners, I figured it gave me an option of small blank cards if I wanted to write a note and it was cheaper. Wrong move, I am officially crap at stamping and so I’ve just recently placed a new order with both sides printed.

I still use MOO a lot.  I like to add mini MOO cards to larger items, I figure these are often given as gifts so it’s nice to have my details there as well as on the actual parcel packaging.  I try these days to get the tags on directly after finishing a batch of animals and before storing them,  anything to speed up the packing and sending out process is good, and I often attach care details if it’s appropriate.

I am also using the large MOO business card stickers on the backs of some of my cellophane packages, such as brooches and little birds.  These products go directly into jiffy bags to be sent out so there is no added tissue or tag etc.  In an effort to get even more tidy, I may get some sticker versions of my business cards printed, that way everything would be uniform, saying that I love that you can have a number of images for the same price at MOO.

Finally, I keep all my packaging prices written down and updated, it allows me to see exactly how much it is costing me to parcel something up, I also write down the postage (which is all about to go up in price I’m afraid 😦 ).  I would love to say I am very green with my P&P but that’s not true, I do favour cardboard boxes and tissue when possible but there is a lot of work to be done reducing my use of jiffy bags and new love of cellophane.

Below are my most recent lists, some details may be wrong and may need updating, the ‘-‘ price is the price per item, even when you can’t order them individually, it simply allows me to see how much each one costs.  These lists are really for my records but I thought they might be useful anyway 🙂 :

Rajapack

All excluding P&P at £10/order

Brown Standard Postal Boxes (bought in 50′s)

A6 215 x 155 x 50                          –  35p each

A5 310 x 220 x 50                          – 50p each

Lrg Flat 430 x 310 x 50                          – 80p each

Lrg 430 x 300 x 120                          – £1-65 each

Rajabul Mailers (their Jiffy)

White 300 x 450 (50/pack)             – 44p each

Tissue paper (bought in a Ream/500 sheets)

Green                                                 – 4p/sheet

Kraft bags (bought in 250 packs)

Very Small 120 x 190 x 45            – 5p each

Small 160 x 250 x 80            – 9p each

Large 240 x 390 x 75            – 16p each

Brown Paper Roll

Recycled 220m @ 90 gsm             – £30 (inc vat)

Smart Packaging Store

I bought Jiffys (Jiffylite) from here simply because I needed them in a hurry and they offer free next day delivery.

Lrg Letter 220 x 320 (min 50)             – 26p each

Lrg Letter 170 x 245  (min 100)             – 15p each

Simply Envelopes

http://www.simply-envelopes.co.uk/

They allow you to order small quantities and delivery is £4.50 for next day (optional).  I had struggled to find a supplier of mailbags in small quantities, more importantly they had a good price on large Biodegradable Poly Bags.

Prices exclude VAT and there is no min order

Clear Cello Bags 230 x 167 (A5)                          – 7p each

130 x 210                                    5p each

Jiffylite 115 x 195 (A6)                                                  – 19p each

290 x 445 (lrg)                                                 43p each

Featherpost Bubble 180 x 165                                    27p each

Biodegradable Poly Bags – 595 x 430             –            – 36p each

Overnight Prints

http://www.overnightprints.co.uk/main.php?A=pc_landingpage

Love em!  Prices below include VAT @ 20% and allow £6 postage towards each pack of cards on the basis of ordering 2 lots each time so this covers the £12 set delivery

A6 postcard, one-sided, no extras             – 25p each (on 100)

A5 postcard, one-sided, no extras             – 30p each (on 100)

DIN Long, one-sided, no extras            – 12p each (on 250)

Business cards, one-sided, no extras – 11p each (on 250)

Moo

http://uk.moo.com

Including delivery and vat @ 20%

Moo Mini – £28.36 (box 200)                        – 14p each

Moo Stickers – £35.08 (box 100)                        – 35p each

Defenda Boxes

http://www.defendapack.co.uk/

Free P&P plus prices shown include VAT

PIP Boxes

For the below DL (long and thin to fit DIN packages) size, the Die Cut make up into a box, the other needs to be taped into place.

DL 217 x 108 x 20 Die Cut (bought in 100 batch)                        – 33p each

DL 217 x 108 x 20 (bought in 150 batch)                         – 20p each

C5 (fits A5) 218 x 159 x 19 (bought in 100 batch)             – 33p each

Making my life easier: Postage & Packaging

I’ve just come back from the post office and have picked up the lists for new postal pricing, it prompted me to finally start writing a selection of posts that have been in my head for a while about the things I do to try and make my life easier, starting with P&P.  I will point out now that most of this is obvious, so you may want to skip this entry, but I always find it interesting to read similar things in blogworld so here we go.

I’ve written about P & P before and not a lot has changed really but I am becoming more efficient as I get busier.  When an order comes in, I like to turn it around within 24 hours, ideally even quicker; I also like to avoid going to the Post Office unless it’s absolutely necessary as the parking in our local village is a nightmare.  This means the more consistent and organized I can be the better, especially as mornings in a household with small boys can get quite hectic.

I have 3 sizes of brown cardboard boxes bought in the early days from Rajapack, they felt like a huge investment at the time as you can only order large quantities but I have to say, I couldn’t manage without them for my bigger items such as Foxes and Linen Cats.  At the same time, I bought jiffys (or the cheaper brand equivalent) in various sizes and, more recently, PIP boxes (from Defendapack).  PIP (Pricing in Proportion) Boxes are designed to fit within the guidelines given by Royal Mail for a Large Letter, so you don’t have to worry about them being over the allocated 25mm deep and as long as the weight is below 100g these parcels only need a Large Letter stamp.  The majority of my orders fit into this category.  PIP boxes also allow me to post out the ‘Little Birds’ and ‘Lavender Birds’ without the ribbon tails getting crushed which is something I always used to worry about.  

In all cases it is cheaper to buy in larger quantities to reduce the cost per item, although storing it all is quite a headache and it’s really all about how much you are going to sell.  I also decided on a ‘colour’ theme in the early days – green – and I’ve stuck to this for my internal wrapping and details, I am inclined to swap and change things a lot but I’ve kept very consistent here.

Where I score a big fail is in the eco friendliness of my packaging, the cardboard is obviously bio-degradable but it’s held together with quite a lot of parcel tape (I’m paranoid about it coming open in transit) and as weight is such an issue (as well as cost) I do use horrid plastic lined jiffy and not the greener (heavier and pricier) alternative.  I would say, when my current stock runs out I will take time to re-think this aspect and I’m on the hunt for a reliable sturdy paper tape at the moment.

Inside boxes, I usually wrap the contents in apple green tissue paper, fastened with a Moo mini card and green sticker.  On larger items, I often include a ‘little bird’, either inside the parcel or attached to the front.  I also always include a copy of the order in the form of a printed packing slip from the appropriate PayPal page and often a home printed business/thank you card with my details on the back.

Smaller items are put into a green paper bag, again usually fastened with a Moo mini (which also acts as a business card), and then into a Jiffy for posting.  I struggle with the items that are in-between and ideally need to go in a Jiffy bag but that need a bit of extra padding (this included cashmere bears and wool bunnies), I wrap them in brown paper with tissue lining.

For the address labels I use the ones I designed whilst in Yorkshire last year, they contain a return address and it saves me having to add this separately.  I do have an address stamp (from the English Stamp Company) and some green ink which I use on the odd occasion, I prefer a green ink pen for writing.

I’m addicted to my printer but have to remind myself how expensive ink is.  I have stickers, labels, and cards home printed

I also have professionally printed postcards (with rounded corners – of course!) which to be honest I don’t use all that often these days.

I stamp and weight as many things as possible at home and this is the single most important time saver for me.  I really should just print postage (which you can do from Royal Mail website), but sometimes the printer has a huff and refuses to work so I have a tin full of stamps to cover most postal costs which I keep topped up.  All my items up to and including the cashmere bear fit into a post box that is on my school run, it’s an old one but for some reason has a slightly larger opening than many in this area.  Anything over this size (and price) is taken to the post office so I can get also obtain a proof of posting certificate or send ‘Signed For’ as appropriate.

Finally, I now design with packaging in mind, especially the larger items.  For instance I made sure the Linen Mice fit nicely into one of my existing boxes.

Things I need to work on?  I need to design a new banner and logo for my shop and carry this through on the packaging.  I am always running out of the mini Moo’s with their beads and thread attached , in future I would like to fasten these directly to the products and instead design a ‘thank you’/business card to attach to the front of parcels, it would also cut out the need for a separate business card.  As already mentioned I need to get more eco-friendly.

I hope that was of help to some people, it feels like a bit of a long waffle but there you go.  OK, need to go and collect C from pre-school and then M will be back and it’s Thai takeaway night tonight – hurrah! 🙂

All Smiles…

The holidays are still going well.  I am genuinely surprised how much sewing I’m managing and in such a way that I don’t feel guilty about ‘abandoning’ the boys either. One large factor is that they are playing quite a lot together, this has never really happened before but they appear to have hit an age that works for them both to be interested in the same games and it’s something I am very grateful for.  We are also still enjoying our daily walk which is a huge bonus and bodes well for our up-coming holiday in the Dales, but more on all that another time.

I was absolutely thrilled to get an unexpected package this morning from the lovely and very talented Mia (who makes the most beautiful felted and knitted bags and pouches, so worth checking out).  It’s a ‘thank you’ gift with card, for some recent orders Mia had placed with me (she was one of the people who pre-ordered a Mr Fox and wrote a blushingly nice post about him here).  How great is that?  You find people who like your work enough to buy some (and who return for more, always a good sign) and then they send you a gift as a thanks!! I could get very used to this 😉

Note the tweed, the felted bird, the colours (all so ‘me’) and the perfect touch of handmade notecard.  I was very smiley this morning.  Thank you Mia.

I also packed up an order for a Wool Bunny (in a Betsy Dress) for a friend who I sadly don’t get to see often enough.  I decided to pop an extra cape in with the package as I’ve been making them for the new Foxes, I’m pleased with how well they also fit the Wool Bunnies.

I always find the Bunnies quite difficult to pack; they go in a padded envelope, but really need an bit of extra protection

for the moment I use brown paper for a bit of added support but it’s one of those nagging packaging issues that bothers me.  Once I have planned all my new Winter products I’ll take some time to look at possible new solutions.

Right, I have plenty to do this afternoon, including making new Betsy dresses as I’m down to my last one, quick coffee and play with the boys then back to it!

And yet again, the packaging wins me over…

It’s pretty easy to get my attention, just put something in nice packaging and I’m all over it.  During my Yorkshire weekend, we (my Sister and I) popped into Waitrose for a quick shop and I took it as an opportunity to buy some sweet things for the boys.

I totally fell in love with the boxes of these Artisan Biscuits, the contents were rather nice too, especially the  Lemon Curd flavour and they were shaped beautifully as well (sorry, we ate them before I could get the camera out!).

I couldn’t resist adding a couple of boxes of fruit Yo-Yo’s to the trolly, again with pretty nifty packaging.

I also recently fell in love with these ‘Postcarden‘ which I saw on Mother Baby Earth blog (if you don’t read Kath’s amazing blog you really should, she was once kind enough to feature The Linen Cat and I’ve been following ever since).

I let the boys choose which one they wanted, Felix opted for ‘Conservatory’ and Charlie for ‘Allotment’

once assembled and filled with the provided cress seeds, they were super quick to sprout

unfortunately, Felix wasn’t as impressed with the taste! He was happy to nibble a bit but wouldn’t let me put any in his egg sandwiches.  As the name suggests, the reverse of the box is a postcard so you can mail them off as gifts, needless to say I’ve stocked up on a few for the many parties F gets invited to now he’s at school; honestly, his social life is much better than mine, he seems to be out partying most weekends 🙂

Postcards and new Moo…

I spoke too soon on my last post and the boys have caught another ‘bug’ so poor F was off school yesterday and was sent home today after having a nasty coughing fit in the playground.  Typically he is now running around the house, showing no signs of illness except a slight bunged up nose, but that’s the way it goes.  C is holding up well and is just a tad snotty so it could be worse.  Well it was worse with the house alarm going off at my sister’s (whilst I fed her cat), police turning up and plenty more but that was this morning and I intend to make the most of my afternoon now everything has calmed down.

I came home from picking F up to lots of lovely parcels, mainly of supplies (tweed, felt and beads) and a second batch of postcards ordered from Overnight Prints.  I’ve noticed that they have put their prices up (or more accurately, their sale prices are no longer available) on Offset print quality postcards.  On past orders, I have paid £9.98/100 A6 and £19.94/100 A5 but on my last order placed just before Christmas, I opted for the new (cheaper!) Digital Print Quality instead of the pricier Offset for my A5 cards to mount the new felt birds on, I am happy with the result, I also opted to pay to have the corners rounded (£2 per 100, I think) but it’s not quite as nice as using my own corner cutter.

There has been an offer on A6 postcards Prices (DPQ 20% off 50) so I decided to take advantage and order some prints of the new Linen Boy Mice (of which I haven’t blogged about the new brown/yellow version yet – he’s soooo cute).  They arrived this morning and although not as good as the Offset quality, the price difference more than makes up for it.  I also decided to cut the corners myself so that’s a nice job for this afternoon, I find it strangely relaxing.

Whilst ‘updating’ my packing for spring, I ordered new Mini Moo cards, in the past I have choosen a large mix of photos but this time I have opted for just the two, a linen cat and bunny in nice bright colours, one matching the new postcards (the mice hadn’t been made at the point of ordering or I may have used them as well).

Finally, thanks to a tip off from Flora who has just been picked as a Folksy Featured Seller (well deserved) we have become addicted to Okido magazine, so much so that I have subscribed and ordered any remaining back issues, which arrived this morning.  F LOVES it and that’s a big deal as he is mainly into plastic things and cartoons so to get him to sit down and enjoy an art and science magazine is a miracle plus the design is fabulous.

Right, best get on and tidy…a much needed order of tweed arrived this morning and it’s very musty so not sure how I’ll deal with that but I can’t use it as it is!

That packaging post I’ve been promising for a while…

DSC_0248When I first decided to sell on-line, I realised I needed good postage safe packaging so after hours pricing up different packing combinations, I placed a large (for me) order with Rajapack.  This consisted of brown cardboard boxes, tissue paper (apple green – I decided early on to choose a main colour and stick to it), small green kraft gift bags (one of my best buys), a large roll of brown paper, Jiffy bags and some green circle stickers for sealing packages.

I made plenty of mistakes such as cutting patterns for new designs according to whim and not thinking about posting them (so having to go and buy yet more packaging) and going a bit overboard with boxes not realising then that my main sellers would be lavender bags that would be better sent in Jiffys.  As a result, I now have 4 sizes of cardboard box (2 of which I hardly ever use), 4 sizes of Jiffy, 1 size of bio-degradable ‘plastic’ bag all of which have to be stored somewhere.  My husband loves all my shop stuff 😉  Having learnt some lessons,  I now design with existing packaging in mind and I also try to pack so I don’t have to go to the post office as this involves driving around our village for 20 mins trying to find a parking space, so ideally I stamp small items at home.

Everyone reading this will know (I have failed to buy anything homemade which hasn’t been packaged beautifully) the packing is a key part to selling homemade goods, I frequently buy mass produced things that are also well packaged but it’s nice to have a personal touch with the little details.  I’ve written about this before here and here, in fact I see I am slightly repeating myself so sorry if you pop back to read these posts, however I am a MOO fan, in the mini cards and business cards, if you pop back to the links above you can read all about my corner cutting tools used to add the finishing touch to my (then) new MOO business cards.

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I am also a bit addicted to our printer, again you can read more here, but I do like to print postage labels and cards, that is until I have to replace the ink and remember how much it can cost!

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In fact this is a great opportunity to show you a lovely package that arrived this morning from Kirsty at Kirsty Elson Designs.

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How nice it that?  and the contents are great, I especially love the Reindeer card.

I recently had a packaging problem in that I didn’t have a way to send my new Christmas Birds, I was worried their beaks would get bent if they were packed in a Jiffy and they are too small to pack in a box (the minimum postage for which is £1.62) so I decided to order some postcards to fix them to from Overnight Prints. I highly recommend these guys, the order was produced in Germany and I had progress emails throughout the whole process.  I should point out though, they are not overnight unless you want to pay extra and the other rub is there is a set postage of £10. I ordered 100 x A5 (I see they now have an option for reduced number and quality in A5 size) along with 2 lots of A6 postcards (sets of 100 on sale for £9.18 each).

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The arrived just before we went to Yorkshire and I’m impressed by the quality.  I paid for the very basics so no extra gloss, one-sided and I opted for cutting the corners myself, although next time I will pay the extra £2/100 for this.

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I kept to a simple design for the mounting cards, on the basis that I will probably be using them next year so I took a photo of ribbon with a vintage bauble and one of my sewing tags.  I then attached the birds with removable glue dots on the beads and placed the lot in a cello bag.  Perfect, job done and they take up a fraction of the storage space they did.

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The A6 cards are for a special ‘treat’ for some of my regular customers and those who placed lage orders in the past year.

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I made up 2 new colour birds which are attached to the cards with punched holes and gold ribbon, they will hopefully be sent out next week as a little Christmas card and gift.

Lastly (this is a long post, hope some of you are still with me!), I thought I would copy out my individual pricing list which I keep so I have an idea how much my packaging is costing per order.  In most cases I have included a percentage of the delivery costs in the price as well and obviously some pricing may have changed, but here it is:

Rajapack

Good for large orders and has a next day delivery (in a LARGE lorry) but you have to place an order on-line and they call you back to take payment, also delivery is £8.95 so you need to factor that in.  The prices below include VAT and may well have changed since I bought mine.

Brown Standard Postal Boxes (bought in 50’s)

A6 215 x 155 x 50  –  35p each

A5 310 x 220 x 50  – 50p each

Lrg Flat 430 x 310 x 50  – 80p each

Lrg 430 x 300 x 120  – £1-65

Rajabul Mailers (their Jiffy)

White 300 x 450 (50 /pack) – 44p each

I also buy tissue, green small kraft bags (8p each) and rolls of brown paper from them.

Smart Packaging Store

I bought Jiffys (Jiffylite) from here simply because I needed them in a hurry and they offer free next day delivery.

Lrg Letter 220 x 320  – 26p each (min 50)

Lrg Letter 170 x 245  – 15p each (min 100)

Simply Envelopes

They allow you to order small quantities and delivery is £4.50 for next day (optional).  I had struggled to find a supplier of mailbags in small quantities, more importantly they had a good price on large Biodegradable Poly Bags.

Clear Cello Bags 230 x 167 (A5)  – 7p each (exc VAT)  – no min order

Jiffylite 115 x 195 (A6)  – 19p each (exc VAT) – no min order

Biodegradable Poly Bags – 595 x 430 (exc VAT) 36p each – no min order

Overnight Prints

Love em!  Price below include VAT and allow £3 postage towards each 100 cards on the basis 3 orders covers the £10 set delivery

A6 postcard, one-sided, no extras – 13p each

A5 postcard, one-sided, no extras – 30p each

Moo

Moo Mini – £11.99 (box of 100)

Moo Business – £12.99 (box of 50)

Plus Delivery

Hope some of that helps, I am sure there may be better options, these are just some options that I have used in the past.

A Mixed Bag…

It’s all gone a bit Pete Tong.  Just in case you were hoping to see a lovely patchwork bag or something as the title suggest, sorry, but there are some highlights so do keep reading (and I’ll apologise now for the dodgy photos but the light is very bad here today).

The Good

It all started last night, I received a late night order, from a Gentleman no less! (not many of those order from my website) and he chose very well….unless it’s a girl using her other half’s PayPal address which has happened in the past…either way, I said good bye to my last SALE cat, which was ordered along with an Orange Winter Berry Cushion, they look good together don’t you think?  I added a little Egg Cosy as an extra.

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The Bad

Now, I am going to have to divert here for a little introduction to

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Smelly, my cat.  Her real name is Smilla after ‘Miss Smilla’s Feeling for Snow‘, one of my favourite books but she has always been called Smelly.  I will give you a full cat history another time, the thing is, Smelly has only had part house access since we moved here 3 years ago as she daily brings dead animals in.  I am OK, with this, she is a cat after all, but when Charlie was younger and mostly crawling it wasn’t very nice so at night she has been restricted to the utility room in a cosy bed by the boiler and she isn’t allowed in bedrooms.  As we have no door in our new (old) extension she has been lounging about on the beds at night and last night she PEED on my bed!  She has a history of doing this and it’s partly how she became known as Smelly.  I was not best pleased but luckily the cat wee hadn’t gone all the way through to the mattress, only the duvet and sheets.

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The Really Bad

This morning, after getting some of the bedding into the wash, I packed up my order and was about to pop off to the post office when F’s school rang.  My should-know-better 4 1/2 yr old had shoved a bead up his nose, buried Pirate treasure apparently, so I had to pick him up and take him to A&E, along with Charlie on the doctor’s orders.  After a 2 hr wait (with me trying to get F to blow his nose really hard and yes, I did try tweezers) he had the lovely pink bead removed.  He wont be doing that again in a hurry.

Getting Better Again

I came home to find I had another order, this time for a Betsy Wool Bunny

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if you are wondering what the little bird attached to a card is all about, I have a big packaging post on it’s way that will explain all.

The Best Bit

Whilst out, the postman came by with a number of parcels.  This could have been bad, except we have great postmen who often sign for my packages leave them in a safe place.  So I came home with hungry, tired children and chips to cheer them up, to

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find my 2010 Calenders as ordered from Snapfish.  This has become a staple Christmas present for my immediate family, all my Father’s photos are on slides, which I am slowly scanning so each year I put together a Calender with a mix of old and new photos, I always wait for the half price sale and then get them ordered.

The Very Best Bit

Having saved the best bit until last (I waited over an hour to open this parcel as I knew what was inside and wanted to be relaxed with a coffee to hand, so as to really enjoy the experience) here is an order I placed with Nicky, of NickyNackyNoo.

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Nicky makes lovely things, plenty of which are for boys, an area I fail dismally to cover.  I have bought some of her great traffic jam bunting in the past and thought it would be nice for the boys to have hot water bottles so I ordered these covers.  Nicky added some fab tweed, for which I have a perfect project in mind and a bonus bag of flower fridge magnets, made using photos taken in her garden – how great is that!

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So it’ all looking up, best go and get the next load of laundry in and maybe fix our bedroom door so I can close it in future.

The Boys are back in Town…

First, a completely non craft bit.  I was very lucky to see The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain at the BBC Proms on Tuesday night and they were excellent.  I get to see quite a few Proms as my sister always gets tickets but Tuesday was great fun, so much so that I keep listening to concert on the iPlayer , it’s only available for the next few days so sorry if you are reading this post down the line.  For anyone with kids you may have seen TUOGB on Space Pirates (or 4 members of the group) doing their version of The Proclaimers ‘I would walk 500 miles’, they played Grassington Festival last year (yes, Grassington, a small village deep in the Yorkshire Dales has a festival each year and a big one at that.  I didn’t know until my mother casually mentioned that she had just seen Toyah Willcox play there!!!!!) so I have been keen to see them for a while and they didn’t disappoint.  For a quick taster watch their version of Wuthering Heights or Life on Mars.

Right, back to more crafty ramblings.  The sale has been going well, a lot of these have been posted out

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and I said goodbye to my last Wool Bunnies in a Kitchy dresses as they have all sold now, along with the last dark green Linen Cat.

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I get a bit panicky when my stock levels get too low, I have to decide if I want to make more of the now rather depleted stock or if I will consign some to history and bring in new designs.  I already know I will continue with a few, just in new colours others are to be replaced, but whilst I am working through these ideas I have been sewing products that are here for the long haul.

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I’ve added a new Boy Wool Bunny (I started these ages ago but never finished them – tut, tut!) and  I’ve been getting a bit happy with our new printer, creating thank you cards and labels.

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I especially love these ones with the rounded corners from aalabels which I use for larger packaging

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Right, back to wrapping parcels before the trek uphill to the post office pushing buggy and buggy board (with kids obviously)…I need lighter children!

Tired but plodding on…and more MOO

I am soooo tired.  M is away with work so I am home alone with the boys, which is fine except they refuse to sleep after 5.30am (and that’s the latest- we had 4.30 this morning!!).  It means that evenings are out for doing anything except staring at the TV with a glazed look on my face or maybe an extra early night and a read (I am reading The Suspicions of Mr Whicher  which I am really enjoying, I love the period details). Daytimes are about survival, I get little bursts of energy but the house is a tip so I feel guilty if I sew instead of clean.  I am also behind in blog reading, I use google reader for this, which I love (except you can’t leave comments without going to the actual blog so I am really bad at saying ‘hello’ to people I read – sorry!).  I loved this blog post on MOO after Denise left a comment on Pretty Packaging.  What a great post, if you have been thinking about how to package your products definitely go and have a look.  

 

New MOO business cards, with corners rounded by my new 5mm gadget.

New MOO business cards, with corners rounded by my new 5mm gadget

It got me in the mood for some nice small projects to squeeze into the day.  Inspired by above, I ordered some lovely new business cards from MOO (I usually only buy MiniCards, I chose their eco friendly matt cards made from recycled board) and then searched the internet for a simple, cheap corner cutting tool as I really fancied round corners…this was harder than I had anticipated, I think I didn’t get the search words right because it took ages.  I bought two Mini Corner Rounders (both 5mm and 10mm) from Joyce Online, if I really like the effect I can upgrade to a more sturdy option, there were no postage costs – we like that!  

 

I love being able to add an image to the back as well.

I love being able to add an image to the back as well.

After ordering new cards I had a think about my own packaging.  In the early days I started adding a free mini butterfly lavender bag to larger orders (please excuse the photo quality, this was a large order from last Christmas and I had to photo them it in a hurry before posting).

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I used to place a few MiniCards in the box but realised they may well get lost in the tissue and just get thrown in the bin so I started to attach them to the lavender bag with extra ribbon (not shown above, these were the early model).  I also started to attach the cards to the front of smaller orders with a round sticker  and ribbon (I pack single lavender bags and egg cosies in apple green Kraft bags) and I always add a hand written card, even if it only says ‘thanks for your order’.

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I am happy with all of this but may have a little re-design of the mini butterfly lavender bags.  I think they are a nice touch, everyone loves a freebie!

I could spend a lot on packaging, both in time and money, I have to remind myself that I need to deliver something attractive without spending a fortune, hopefully I have got the balance right.

OK, so it has taken me a while to actually post this blog entry, during which time I had an enquiry from the US about postage costs for a linen cat/bunny.  I rarely post to the US although I do post to Europe quite a bit.  I gave pricing for regular Airmail and Airsure and finally International Signed for but all are quite expensive.  This is one of the main reasons I don’t sell on Etsy, Airmail is the only reasonable price but I am unsure how reliable it is?  I know that with a certificate of posting packages are insured up to £39 but getting money back from RM is a nightmare.  If anyone has any good/bad experience of US posting (and reliability) do let me know.