Archive for the ‘packaging’ Category

Photography and Packaging…Oh, My!

Vermont Open Studios, 2016

When we did Vermont Open Studios last May with artist Mary Hill, one of the great things about sharing the space was all the time we had to talk about our various art and marketing attempts. Mary had some GREAT ideas for us concerning packaging. We continue to process everything we thought about, with some definite changes in what we are doing. Thanks to Rachel of The Textile and Fiber Art List, we have also been improving photography – both how we shoot items and how we present the finished product.

First, the photography. Our pictures have a “muddy” cast to them, and we are basically rephotographing everything we have. The place we are living now doesn’t allow for much flexibility for setting up good lighting. Hubby experimented with a lot of options – including moving to a rolled fabric presentation rather than each piece in a haphazard manner. Give an overall idea as opposed to every thing about each piece. In this manner we can still send the packages flat and save customers money (on international orders – domestic shipping is free). Some “before and after” ideas –

Getting the overall set-up of the product looking good –

Lighting and color still issues….but against the white background looking better. Also, we discovered that we needed to save pictures at a larger size in order to get more detail in the pictures. Next is better with a good cropping and some adjustments in Photoshop to correct the lighting.

Definitely getting there –

Uh-Huh…..

Definitely brighter –

Close-up shot for the Twitter picture, which I am slowly getting back to using…..

This is just for our Charm Pack 2 – ten pieces of hand-marbled pima cotton, assorted patterns and colors, 10 x 10 inches each. Slowly working on others. The pieces need to be appealing, hence all the work on presentation in the pictures. The mailing is easier than a rolled item, which costs more to ship and doesn’t give customers a good look at the fabrics.

This looks better in person when displaying for a show – but not for online sales.

Much more ahead for us as we continue adding new items…let me know your thoughts and how you solved packaging problems.

 

 

 

 

 

Wednesday Work in Progress

This photo is from one of my most favorite spots in the world – a small park somewhere on the Li River in Guilin, China. I’ve done some cropping, but this is the focus of the latest class I am taking from Quilt University: Artists Revisited. Technically I should have chosen a painting by one of the masters, but I have always wanted to translate some of my own photos to fabric, so I chose this. My colors aren’t an exact match, as they should be for this exercise, but I am happy with what I have chosen. I worked on the background first and then came to the foreground, where I realized it was extremely busy. Here’s what I’ve got:

It’s obviously rough, and the trees are missing. I am going to start the thread painting, and then I’ll add the trees toward the end of that step. This is taking a much longer time for me, as I want to really think through each of the thread painting stages. The first step will be the horizon lines, and then I’m going to practice on the “crags” to see what I can do to accent and at the same time soften the mountains. I’d love suggestions for ideas to “paint” the sections.

Also, I’ve been making cloth baskets as a start for our Holiday offerings: we’re doing a “basket, which is really a fabric bowl suitable for all year round, as I’m creating them with some fairly neutral fabrics. The thinking is that a bowl might be more useful around the house than a basket.

Once the bowls are done, they will then get filled with all kinds of goodies:

* A fat quarter of hand-marbled fabric on 100% cotton

* Four pieces of hand-marbled Offray ribbon, assorted sizes and widths

* A selection of coupons and discounts from a variety of Etsy sellers, good for use in their individual stores

* A Sampler Package of 6 by 9 inches swatches of hand-marbled fabrics

* A selection of hand-marbled leaves and flowers

* A set of note cards with Digital Marbling (TN) designs

* and…some type of mystery gift.

We totaled up costs, and the retail value of this offering is $75.00. We’ll be selling the Holiday Bowl Packages for $50.00. Now each order will be different, as every piece of marbled fabric is unique in its creation. No two Bowl Packages will be the same.

Here’s the deal – for the next week, you can order these Holiday Bowl Packages for 20% off. Email us with your order, and we’ll do an invoice and arrange shipping. This offer ends on Wednesday, September 7.

Here’s the start of one of the Holiday Bowls…..

Think of all those family members who like fabric and are really hard to shop for – this will be totally unique!

 

Monday Marketing – Packaging, Part 2

Since my post on the packaging two weeks ago, I have sold a couple more pieces of the new fabrics I listed, along with how they would be sent, like in the photo above. I also have started looking a lot more closely in the stores at packaging for different items. Now money is an issue, so there isn’t a lot to purchase “extras,” but that doesn’t mean you can ignore the packaging.

For our upcoming show on November 20, all our fabric is wrapped with ribbon, and we purchased colored tissue paper to wrap purchases – not a great as a box, but better than a plastic recycled bag. Because we deal with fabric, I looked into how my local quilt shop packages – and believe me, they do a great job! Lots of rolled fabrics by colors, which makes a great small package. For large fabric purchases they have special white bags with “ribbons” at the top, made from strips of recycled colored papers. You walk out of that store feeling special.

Moda Fabrics started the trend for “jelly rolls” of fabrics, and they have their own “Bake Shop” to capitalize on this idea.

Robert Kaufman fabrics has a great idea for packaging – certainly an eye-catcher:

Further exploration gets us to the gift boxes from PaperMart. Loads to choose from, but I think the key is to be classy and as original as possible. I do like the “take-out” boxes.

Also from PaperMart – I like these because I could roll fabrics and stand them on end in these.

I still have a lot of thinking to do concerning the whole subject of packaging, with less than 2 weeks to go to the show. I’ll do what I can for now, but I’m looking ahead to other shows, plus our Etsy and Ebay sales to make sure our customers get really attractive packaging with their purchases.

How do you package? Any interesting ideas or materials that you use?

You might also be interested in these posts:

Monday Marketing: It’s the Packaging, Stupid!

So Many Outlets, So Little Time!

Monday Marketing – It’s the Packaging, Stupid….

You would think, based on a hubby in retail for so many years, that I would have given packaging more of a priority. Well, no…seems like I’m always rushing to get items ready for shows, and I neglect the packaging. That’s not to say I don’t give a lot of thought to the overall set-up of the art space…just not the packaging.

I had a bit of an epiphany with this upcoming show. I’m sitting in the meeting about the show, listening to explanations of selling, how good a show it is, and the great location. When suddenly I hear “People are gift-buying. They’ll splurge for folks back home with gifts for the holidays.”

Okay, seems obvious. Then hubby says, “Well, they’re not going to buy pieces of fabric, so I’m not sure just what we’ll bring.” That made me fairly depressed. Fabric is what we do: fabric for quilts, wearables, framing – we’ve spent a lot of time brainstorming how folks could use our marbled fabric.

Then it hit. Buy fabric as gifts for the folks in your life who do fiber-related arts. Just package it so it looks like a gift from the heart, not just a piece of fabric in a plastic bag.

Duh. Why did this take so long? We have done so many small shows over the years, including demonstrations, and not once have we packaged ourselves for gift sales. This was definitely something to think about. How could we take a gorgeous piece of fabric that to a non-fiber person just looks like extra pieces of cloth on the table? I started thinking about how I buy small pieces of art, as well as how my local quilt shop packages your purchases. I love having the “back story” or a piece of artwork. In my hutch sits a container of all the small papers of stories collected over the years.

Okay, put together the story of the fabric, the care of the fabric, and ways to contact us (hard to believe we haven’t done all of that in the past).  Wrap the fabric piece with a bow so that it looks special, with the “story” tucked into a fold of the fabric. When purchased, wrap in tissue paper before bagging it.

I played on the computer to come up with something that would have contact information as well as a story about the creation and care of the fabric. With aiming at non-fiber purchasers, I need to provide as many reasons as possible while a piece of “art cloth” would be a great gift. Here’s the “story:”

“This art cloth is a blue silk crepe georgette  fabric, hand-marbled in a contemporary wave pattern, 19 inches by 21 inches. Edges are serged solely to prevent fraying of the fabric. This material has been pre-treated and heat-set, so it is ready to go for your project. If you need to clean this fabric, use warm water and a gentle soap – no Woolite or harsh cleaners, no dry cleaning. Use a dry iron and some Magic Sizing to eliminate wrinkles. Try this as a table-topper, just the way it is, quilt it, or use it in an art quilt for nature elements– lots of imaginative possibilities! This is a great pattern to quilt by itself with lots of decorative threads.”

Along with this is every contact piece – Twitter, Facebook fan page, blog, email and website. Save everything to your computer, and then all you need do is add the new story for each of your pieces.

Here’s the fabric and its packaging:

I will say the piece was up on Etsy for less than an hour before it sold, and all the new pieces of fabric packaged this way have had more views than previously in the shop.

The proof will be the show on November 20; how will people react, and will they buy? Thoughts? What have you done to package your items? Have you noticed a difference in sales?

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