What happens when a Melbourne girl with a childhood passion for stationary, cards and gift wrapping meets a gap in the market? The Parcel Project is a homegrown business founded by Catherine Lakeland that aims to preserve the romance of unwrapping a carefully wrapped gift, while maintaining the convenience of buying online.
StartUp Creative sat down with the director of the Parcel Project to hear about how she found her passion.
What were the first steps you took to make the Parcel Project into a reality?
Research, research, research! I was glued to my computer screen for the first few months before I took any steps. Once I had decided on the model for the business, I chose a business name, registered it, trademarked it, and bought the domain name. Those were the most satisfying steps to take!
Is design and visual merchandising a passion of yours, or do you have previous experience in this line of work?
I don’t have experience in design or visual merchandising, I just know what I like! I hired a graphic design agency (John+John Design based in Sydney) to design the logo; all other designs of the business are my own. I like clean, simple designs and look for similar concepts for the products in the boxes. Each product in the box has to match, as the box as a whole needs to be visually appealing to the buyer. I found some fabulous products during my search for suppliers but if their branding wasn’t a right fit, it wouldn’t work.
10% of the profits from each of your gift parcels go to Beyondblue; is this one of your key business philosophies?
Donating to a charity was always a part of the business philosophy. It was a non negotiable. I didn’t want to build something without giving back in some way.
How does your brand reflect your own personality?
The style of the brand reflects my own personal style. I’m a typical Melbourne girl so black, grey, white, nude everything!
How do you get past creative blocks?
I have to remove myself from the business briefly whenever I have a creative block, so I’ll do a Pilates class, go for a walk, or make a cup of tea. I try not to look at my phone or computer screen while having a cup of tea so I can just recharge and enjoy it, but it is hard!
Do you remember your first success? How did this inspire you to keep pursuing your passion?
My first success would have to be my first sale from a customer who wasn’t a friend! Of course my family and friends have supported my business by being my initial customers, so the day I made an organic sale to an unknown customer was the day I felt like I had a legitimate business! I knew then that I had made something that people like and need.
What is next for the Parcel Project?
My goal for The Parcel Project is to collaborate with larger companies in providing gifts for either their staff or clients lists. I also want to expand our range to include more themed boxes, and to cater to different events and stages in people’s lives.
What is your best tip for a killer social media game?
Growing a social media following is so important to getting your brand out there. With regards to Instagram posts, it’s important to not bombard your followers with too many uploads of your products, otherwise it will feel like they are following an ad! I find the best is to upload 20% your product, 80% fun, relevant to your brand and visually stimulating shots (but remember to always credit the user where you found the photo!).
Give us your best words of advice for StartUp creatives who are looking to turn their own ideas into a brand or business.
It’s so cliché but just do it! You can sit around and talk about it until the cows come home, but just take one step to get started. Once you see the progress you won’t be able to stop.
Words: Jess Mackay