Deb, our Creative Director, has been taking part this month in #marchmeetthemaker, a creative initiative on Instagram dreamed up by designer and illustrator Joanne Hawker. Every day in March Joanne sets a challenge – anything from ‘workspace’ to ‘raw materials’ to ‘inspiration’ – and thousands of hugely talented designer makers from around the world post the image that describes the challenge as it relates to them. It’s been fascinating to see how everyone works – their creative process, the tools they use and the things that motivate them – and it inspired us to take the challenge a step further and write about a whole month in the life of Boxcitement. We were amazed when we thought about it about how much goes on behind the scenes!
Boxcitement design most of the items we include ourselves, so we have to factor in our own design stage when creating our boxes. The themes and illustration styles for our boxes are generally agreed on months in advance, but the beginning of each month marks the start of the process that we go through to make sure our boxes get out the door. Once our subscribers have renewed their subscriptions on the 1st, we have a rough idea of how many items we need to produce for the following month – with a lot of wriggle room for last minute orders of course! This means that we can start to send all the designs we’ve created off to the printers. The designs can be applied to anything from bags to cards to mirrors – and with each manufacturer taking a certain amount of time to produce the items we’ve ordered, there’s a lot of juggling to be done to make sure we hit our deadlines!
At the same time, the design for the item of jewellery we include in every box is finalised, the findings (the bits and bobs used in jewellery making) are sourced and our makers start making! With each item of jewellery being hand crafted it can take nearly the whole month to create enough for all our subscribers – and just when you think you’ve got it all organised, you run out of something and there’s a panic to get it all finished!
Around the middle of the month, the Box Office becomes very busy with deliveries from manufacturers turning up every day. We work with local artisans and also printers and makers from Spain, Poland and Germany – and they’re all fab to work with and are never late! Once the manufacturer has delivered their contribution it needs to be inserted into whatever cute packaging we have chosen for that month – which can sometimes take days! We believe that presentation is everything though, and the opening of a Boxcitement box just keeps on going as you open all the individually wrapped goodies inside. It’s an exciting moment for us too when we see everything come together for the first time.
With all the products safely delivered, we then spend a couple of days with a photographer creating the images that you will be familiar with – not only the images that reveal the contents of our newest box, but also some ‘sneak peek’ pics of the box coming up next, so that we always have a good source of images for our social media channels and to send out for PR purposes. Our website is also regularly updated so that new customers can see what we’ve been up to. Around this time we will also arrange to send boxes to reviewers and organise promotions so that the word gets out when our latest box is launched.
And then comes the packing… with Boxcitement growing all the time we now have to hold ‘packing parties’ every month with our team so that all hands are on deck – usually the process takes two to three days with everyone on board but there is usually a late night involved (followed by pizza and wine, of course). It’s a lot of fun but we have to work hard to make sure every box contains what it should. Then they are all taped up and allocated to our customers – who are as far afield as Australia, Japan, the US, Saudi Arabia, Malta, Russia and Sweden to name a few! As you can imagine the paperwork required to file all those boxes with Royal Mail takes a while, but once all the boxes are popped into their mail sacks and picked up it’s a big moment, because after that they are literally out of our hands! It’s a nervous couple of days until we start seeing feedback from subscribers – but there’s simply nothing better than seeing an image posted on social media of someone enjoying their box. It’s what our job is all about!
After a big clear up (you can imagine the number of boxes we have to flatten for recycling!) we usually spend a day or two brainstorming future boxes, analysing how the month came together and contacting potential new suppliers and manufacturers. This is the time when you are most likely to see us hanging out on Facebook or Twitter – we run out of time the rest of the month! We also start to formalise the contents for the next box – some of the biggest challenges are making everything fit into our letterbox-friendly boxes and that they don’t weigh too much! We work out our production times – and the process begins once again. Deb visits trade shows and exhibitions in London and nationwide as well to help come up with new ideas, spot trends and discover new craft techniques – it’s never ending but fantastically satisfying!
It’s a wonderfully creative process involving some really talented people and we love to see our ideas come to life, and that they are enjoyed and used by our customers. We find inspiration in everything from a quick (OK, never quick) visit to Paperchase to the way someone is dressed in Shoreditch. And we constantly try to learn and explore new styles and influences so that every month is different. Hopefully you think that we usually succeed!
All the best for now – it’s back to work!
Deb and the Boxcitement team