Packaging products can sometimes be that "ehhhhh" part of running a business, at least for me. Sitting on the floor with what seems like hundreds of bubble mailers, boxes, labels, and tape...it can get tiring and mundane, especially when it's not as efficient as it could be. Over the last few years of running my own small business I've learned so much about packing products and developed my own method for beautifully (and economically) wrapping goods, which of course is constantly in the tweaking phase. So I'm just going to share a few tips with y'all! I mail out both large and small items so I know the struggle when it comes to alllll sizes! But whatever you sell, many of these tips should be helpful. So here's to making packaging and mailing something enjoyable!
Packing It Pretty
Let's start with the basics! Whatever you're sending out...a few essentials to have are the materials that you're actually wrapping your product in before it ever gets in the bubble mailer/box. For me, that's packing paper (I get mine from walmart but I know you can get it in larger quantities and cheaper from places like Uline. Just depends on how much you plan on using). I also purchase smaller brown paper bags like you see in the picture for items like velvet ribbon, wooden rings, and earrings. As an alternative to plain clear scotch tape when closing up bags or packages is...you guessed it....washi tape (cause who doesn't love stocking up on that:) I get mine from Hobby Lobby.
Along with pretty washi tape comes your business cards. Mine are pretty large as you can see, which I love because I can write a sweet note to my client on the blank side. My uber talented sis over at @bristleandhues designed the background and then I ordered about 750 cards from Vistaprint. I also like to tie on a sprig of dried (not fake) eucalyptus or flowers that I cut off a large bunch you can purchase at Hobby Lobby or really any craft store. Be careful when packing your beautifully wrapped item in your cardboard box/bubble mailer if you're using dried flowers or leaves....they can get crushed pretty easily. But really make this part of the packing process YOUR OWN. Each artist can do something unique to their medium. I've even seen fellow fiber artists tie on mini dream catchers to their packages!
Bubble Mailers & Boxes
Ok let's get to the not so exciting part. The stuff that the pretty stuff goes in. One thing that I can't stress enough is protecting your items!!! I've had items bend, break, and crack in the past and each time I learn from my mistakes and try to do better. But I've learned over time that it's better to be safe than sorry. Better pack it in a bigger box with more filler than to have it delivered broken then have to spend wayyyyy more to replace the item for your client.
I mail a lot of my items out in bubble mailers, so due to that fact I've had to purchase them in bulk to save instead of those little 2 packs from walmart. Amazon has some great bulk options for bubble mailers, in just about any size you can imagine. I also just discovered an interesting product called Scotch Flex & Seal. It's essentially a customizable bubble mailer (really hard to explain so just click the link and it'll take you straight to the product on amazon. I promise...all will be revealed there).
Bubble mailers may not work that great for fragile or larger items, so in many cases an old-fashioned cardboard box may be necessary. I use long skinny cardboard boxes that you can buy in bulk from amazon for my larger macrame pieces (I'll explain how I get them in there in just a sec). But I just recently discovered that you can get FREE BOXES that's right! I said it. FREE. If you mail your items using USPS and are shipping them priority (which you have to now if it weighs over 1lb.) all you need to do is go to USPS.com and there will be an option to order free shipping supplies. They have boxes in many different shapes and sizes. I've started using the pyramid-shaped long boxes for my larger macrame pieces. So now the secret is out...you have no idea what kind of happy dance I did when I found out I could get boxes for free! I mail most of my cord in boxes and they all weigh over 1 lb. so I order packs of 25 in a couple different sizes and keep them in my storage room. You can order them in packs of 10 that works great if you're wanting to try out a size or just don't mail things as often.
Pictured here is a priority box that I actually reused from when a friend sent me something. But you can get something just like this on the usps site.
And speaking of reusing....do it! Don't just toss out those amazon boxes or packing materials that come with materials you purchase offline. It saves you time, money, and helps the planet. I'd say it's a win win. Just cover the old label with your own and mark out any barcode stickers with a black sharpie.
As far as filler, I use the same paper I wrap my items in. You know, the one from walmart I mentioned like 10 minutes ago? Just crumple it up and stuff it around your item to keep it from moving around too much. Obviously how much you add depends on the fragility of your items.
Wrapping Macrame Pieces
I try to avoid as little tangling of my macrame pieces as possible when mailing them. So the way I wrap mine is laying them flat on a piece of packaging paper (you may need to overlap multiple pieces for larger wall hangings). Then I start rolling the paper and piece together from one end, burrito style. About halfway - 2/3 way to the other end of the paper, I fold the sides of the paper in and continue folding. It's basically a macrame burrito there really isn't a better way to describe it!
And of course there will be some crumpling from the piece staying rolled up for days while it's traveling to it's forever home. So I try and leave a little note telling my client to unwrap, hang, and let the piece relax for a few days and it will return to normal. Also, if my piece has any fluffy fringe or tassels on it I'll include a small comb and instruct the client on how to use it. It's a sweet gesture and saves your customer time and effort.
Last thing...Labels. I used to print my shipping labels off etsy onto plain paper, cut them out AND TAPE EACH AND EVERY ONE ONTO THEIR BOX. Talk about wasting time! Then a sweet soul on instagram suggested I use label stickers that you can simply feed into your printer like paper and they print 2 labels per page. You peel them off the paper and stick them to your boxes. That easy. I can tell you my life hasn't been quite the same since then.
To conclude, packing is such a unique thing for each maker. There are some tips and tricks that work across the board and can save everyone time and money, but when it comes down to the specifics, it's up to you. And that's where each artist's creativity gets to shine! Make it special, make it yours. And always think about how your customer will feel opening up your package. We all get enough boring mail these days...so let's change that, one package at a time.