Natural Gift Wrapping DIY – Autumn Gift Wrap Ideas

I think Autumn is a lovely time of year—things are cooling down and the leaves are starting to fall from the trees.

….and because of all this, it’s also a great time for me to post a natural gift wrapping DIY!

Natural Gift Wrapping DIY

Step 1: Go for a walk

Take a stroll in the Autumn air.  On your journey, gather up some twigs, dead leaves, and perhaps some lovely dried berries.  If you don’t have any gardening twine, grab some from a garden store (the dollar store usually has it too!).

Natural Gift Wrapping DIY

Step 2: Wrap your box in kraft paper

This is the base layer of how I wrap the majority of my presents. It looks fancier and classier than other types of gift wrap, in my opinion—and is what helps give the boxes their natural gift wrapping feel.  If you don’t have any of it lying around, use an inside-out brown grocery bag or a brown lunch bag.  If those are also not available, a piece of newspaper (text mostly) can be an ok substitute.

Natural Gift Wrapping DIY

Step 3: Twine it up

The brown twine is also important for the natural gift wrapping feel.  Tie it either centered or off-centered.  Off-centered can give an even fancier vibe.

Natural twine gift wrapping DIY

Final Step: Try out different combinations

Go nuts with the collection of leaves and stuff you’ve collected.  Usually one or two different items is sufficient—like some twigs and berries, or a dead leaf and an acorn, etc.

Natural Gift Wrapping DIY

 

And you’re done!

I have another post with some more intricate natural gift wrap DIY ideas, so if you like this style go ahead and check it out!

Want to check out some other posts on natural gift wrapping DIY?  Check out some of my favorite blog posts on the subject!

Small Business Marketing on a Budget

Small Business Marketing on a Budget

If you’re looking to grow your small business but don’t have the money to throw at marketing (I wouldn’t recommend the throwing part even if you do), you’re not alone.  It’s tough starting a business, and reading up on some tips is a great way to start.

Owning a handmade subscription company, I spend a lot of my time talking to handmade artists about their products and businesses. As a result, I’ve learned a lot about how to do small business marketing on a budget, and I thought it was time to share a couple of tips here—I hope they can benefit you as well.

So here we go:

My top 2 tips for Small Business Marketing on a Budget

Tip 1: Get a review….or ten

Regardless of how wonderful a product you have, it is highly unlikely that the world will ever hear about it unless you can get other people to start talking about it too.

The best first step in my opinion is to get an independent source to review your product, online.  If you are selling a physical product, figure out your target demographic and do a web search for blogs that have the same target market.  For example, if you create a cool handmade baby product—find a mom blogger with a baby and contact her, letting her know about your product and asking if she’d like to check it out for free.

How to choose a blog & write the email:

  • Choosing a blog: Don’t aim too high.
    This may sound like the opposite advice your mother used to give you, but take heed.  If you try and aim too high your email will likely not be read at all.  Depending on the stage your shop and product is in, you want to choose a blog of an appropriate readership size.If you’re quite a new business, with just a so-so website/shop and product photos, find a blogger that has a nice blog and a decent amount of readers (you can get an idea of that by the number of comments on each post or use one of these analytics sites here).   A blog that gets only 2 or 3 comments on each post is a good start if you’re really new to the game.  That being said, if you already have a bit of online traction and have stellar product photos, you can shoot for a blog that is a bit more well-read.
  • Be personal: Connect with the blogger
    When addressing the email (“Dear xyz”), make sure you use the blogger’s actual name. Most personal bloggers use their real names online, and if you haven’t taken the time to look around their site and figure out what it is they may write you off.Comment on something (positive) about their blog.  Make sure you actually take time to explore their blog and read some articles, so you know a bit about the blogger you’re talking to.  Blogs are usually personal spaces, and bloggers like to interact with people who truly read their articles. A good example would be “I really enjoyed your article on your favorite books to read to babies—I used to read the same ones to my little one!”.
  • Be polite: Ask for their opinion
    Instead of outright asking them to help you market your product—let them know that you value their opinion in the relevant marketplace, and that you would love feedback on your new product.  Don’t mention that you are trying to do small business marketing on a budget —it will sound like you are asking them to work for free so you don’t have to spend any money.  Instead, simply offer to send them a sample free of charge, in exchange for an honest review.

Tip 2: Make the most of your current fans

Even if your current customers/fans consist exclusively of your family and friends, make sure you utilize them as a resource.  You are a single voice, so get a few other voices working in your favor. 

How to make the most of your current fans:

  • Make a Newsletter….and use it!
    MailChimp & small business marketing on a budgetThis actually took me awhile to get the hang of, because it seems like it would be a pain in the butt.  But now that we do it at Fair Ivy, I can’t stress enough how much of a difference this makes to sales.
    My advice is to get a free account over at MailChimp, and start with one of their signup forms (for your website) and email templates. It’s as simple as slotting in your own text and a couple of images, and the newsletter looks pretty professional. A good idea is to start with some simple news, such as new products or links to new product reviews, and see what generates the most response (MailChimp includes analytics so you can see what people are doing with your newsletter emails).  Try sending new newsletters once a month at first, and then twice a month.  Once you feel like you have a good grasp on the newsletter system, try out some new ideas, like small giveaways, or asking for customer feedback or reviews on your shop.  Regardless of the newsletter content, make sure you always include links to your shop!
  • Reward fans for their loyalty
    Your best customers are the customers you’ve already acquired.  Studies show it takes a lot less effort to get a new conversion from a previous customer than it does to generate an entirely new customer—so make sure you keep those previous customers happy and coming back for more!
    There are great ways to do this without spending any money—it just depends on what you’re selling. A great thing to give away is knowledge.  If you are an expert on a particular topic, write a blog post about it and share the content with your loyal fans first. If you do graphic design, create a badge or graphic that your previous customers can download and use for free on their own websites!  Here’s a great example below from the lovely Wedding Chicks:

    Small business marketing on a budget
    If you don’t have the ability to distribute things like free printables, sometimes the best way to reward customers is to simply write them a personal email and let them know how much you appreciate their business. It’s surprising, but I haven’t received many of these—but whenever I do, I feel really touched and connected with the small business or artist who sent the message.  Suddenly they feel more like a friend than a faceless internet being—and the next time they message me, I pay more attention.

So there you go!  Those two tips for small business marketing on a budget should hopefully get you on the right track.  

Keep your eyes on the blog, because I will soon be posting more tips for small businesses (especially handmade businesses), such as the importance of good product photography (I bet at least one of your friends knows how to take great photos—ask around!) and how to price your products.

DIY Halloween Candy Bags and Halloween Gift Wrap

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays.

I love that it can be just as fun for kids as for adults, and it’s a perfect opportunity to exercise a ton of creativity, both in choosing AND creating your halloween costume (here’s my zombie costume from last year and here’s one of Chris‘, a mad scientist).

I also love handing out candy (and scaring the older kids)—but it wasn’t until this year that it occurred to me that I could combine my love of cute gift wrapping with my love of Halloween.  I am working on some new styles, but for now, here are some of my favorite…..

DIY Halloween Candy Bags

….plus other Halloween-themed gift wrapping!

 These super simple and fun googly-eyed paper ghost candy bags by Craft-o-Maniac:

DIY Halloween Candy Bags

These cute little owl candy bags you can make with a free printable from Paper Crave:

DIY Halloween Candy Bags

 

This fantastic witches broom candy bag free printable from LollyJane:

DIY Halloween Candy Bags

 

Lastly, here are a few Halloween Gift Wrap ideas—they take a bit more time so might not be as good for handing out as DIY Halloween candy bags, but if you have only a few kids you’re giving a special gift to for Halloween, they’d be just the ticket!

This adorable “What’s in there” box from Growing Spaces:

DIY Halloween Gift Wrap

 

This gothic Black & White Gift Wrap style from Nordic Bliss appears to be made for Christmas, but I think with very few tweaks (say a spider on the white ones, a little pumpkin or dead leaf on the black ones) they could make great Halloween gift boxes!

Black White Gift Wrap

I’ll be working on some of my own styles this weekend that are a bit more generally Autumn-themed, so stay tuned…

Popular Subscription Service : A Wait List Solution

We get a lot of questions from fans about our subscription wait list, so I thought I could go ahead and answer a bunch of them here.

The scenario:

We are overbooked.  We started out as a small subscription service 5 years ago, but now find ourselves amongst some of the most popular subscription service out there in terms of customer demand vs. our ability to supply everyone with subscriptions!

We want to be able to bring everyone on board, but it’s tough.  We only work with a single individual artist each month, which means there is a limit to the number of items they can produce without losing any of the care and quality they put into each one.

Popular Subscription Service : Fair Ivy's solution

Popular Subscription Service : Our solution

A wait list has been implemented, but it’s quite lengthy!  Whenever a current customer’s subscription ends, we offer that spot to the first person on our wait list.  In the past we have had no more than 5-6 spots open each month.

But there is hope—even if you are far down the wait list!  Sometimes people on our wait list hope to get invited in time for an important occasion, such as a girlfriend’s birthday.  If the timing isn’t right when their invite does arrive, they may sometimes pass on the invite.

Secondly—we DO hope to someday soon open up a second subscription, sending very similar items each month but with different artists.  That way we can offer twice as many subscriptions per month and let more people in on the surprise fun.  If that happens your spot on the wait list could jump you right on board!

Thirdly, we plan to start doing a blog post each month on a popular subscription service that we personally love (but send different types of things than Fair Ivy, such as Panty by Post), so you can check those out while you wait for your subscription to Fair Ivy to begin.

Want to sign up for our wait list?

With a Fair Ivy subscription, a new artist delivers a high-quality handmade (& hand wrapped) gift to your mailbox every single month—for just $30/month.

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Recycled Gift Wrap DIY – Or, Gift Wrapping Handmade Products

I’m not sure when it happened, but at some point in my life I became nutty about cute gift wrapping. Combine that with an eternal love of crafting, upcycling, and generally being thrifty….and you have the perfect storm.

Part of my job here at Fair Ivy is to ensure that the gifts sent to our monthly surprise subscribers are wrapped in a cute and unique way.  We know that a good chunk of the experience of getting a monthly surprise package is the actual unwrapping event—so the gift wrap is definitely an important part!  However, a lot of our new favorite artists are facing gift wrapping handmade products for the first time, and it can seem like a daunting task.

But over the years, the great thing I’ve realized about gift wrapping is that the more mis-mashed, recycled, and made-up it is, the cuter and more personal it looks.  Take the image below for example:

Recycled Gift Wrap DIY - Or, Gift Wrapping Handmade Products

To make this, I started with the inside of a brown paper grocery bag.  I found a piece of random scrap fabric and cut a strip, and used 5 pieces of blue/green string to go on top of it.  I made the little white dots with paint, and plucked a small leaf from a plant outside.  The tag I just cut out of a scrap of paper I rescued from my recycling bin.

I spent nothing on the wrapping whatsoever, yet it looks a lot more adorable than your generic wrapping paper job.  It also feels a lot more like it contains some kind of quirky artisan bath product or handmade jewelry—in other words, it looks thoughtful.  It took about 10 minutes, but most of that time was waiting for the white paint to dry.

Wouldn’t you squeal with delight if you received that as a gift from a friend?  They probably would think it was wrapped by a fancy store, rather than recycled gift wrap from your own home!

Recycled Gift Wrap – A super straightforward DIY

So, using recycled gift wrap is a great way to gift wrap handmade products if you have a store (like on Etsy), or if you just want your personal gift to have an extra thoughtful vibe.  There are a thousand ways to do something like this, but I’m going to do the absolute simplest version I can come up with—in the hopefully unlikely scenario that you are at home and literally have no crafting materials like ribbon or paint or even gardeners twine.  In my opinion, it isn’t the absolute cutest way you could wrap something—but it takes a very bare-bones approach if you have no materials.

This style is best suited for a smaller gift, like jewelry.

Recycled Gift Wrap - Easy gift wrapping ideas

Materials:

  • Brown paper (e.g. grocery bag)
  • White paper strip
  • Pen
  • Some sort of a piece of a plant—flowers, leaves, dead twigs
  • Tape or glue

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With your pen, create all kinds of linear floopity patterns (that’s a Lucy-ism) on the brown paper.  You can really do anything, but if you know of something in particular that your gift recipient likes, include a line of some of those—like cats, for example.  I included a line in cursive that says “Happy Birthday Sarah!”, since this gift is going to Sarah for her birthday.

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This took a few minutes.  Wrap it on up using tape or glue.  I like the pattern to go diagonally across the box, but if you’re more of the straight-laced-variety, you can align it.

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Add a white strip of paper around the thinner part of the box, and then a smaller strip of the same brown paper on top of that. Slip your plant piece underneath—and you’re done!

Recycled Gift Wrap - Easy gift wrapping ideas

Recycled Gift Wrap DIY - Easy gift wrapping ideas

I hope you give it a shot—if so, tag a picture on Instagram or Twitter (@fairivy #HandmadeGiftWrap).  You could probably even create this from random papers sitting in your car, if you’re seriously having a last-minute panic—I may give that a shot next and see what happens!

Anywho, wrap on!

Fair Ivy: Now a Vegan monthly subscription box

Fair Ivy - vegan monthly subscription boxBeen looking for a vegan monthly subscription box?  Well you’re in luck….Fair Ivy is now a vegan-friendly subscription box!

I have been toying with the idea for awhile, but it wasn’t until I started doing some work with the vegan film and recipe company Forks Over Knives that things really started to click.

Fair Ivy is now vegan-friendly.  Get handmade monthly surprises in your mailbox with this vegan monthly subscription box

 

Vegan Monthly Subscription Box : What does it mean?

Firstly, it does NOT mean:

The move towards Fair Ivy being a vegan-friendly subscription will not change the style, vibe or quality of the items you find in the hand-wrapped gifts mailed out each month.  It also does not mean that the subscription is targeted only at vegans (e.g. you won’t be receiving any vegan cheese!).

It does mean:

What it means that we will not be selecting artists or handmade gifts that are not vegan-friendly.  None of our handmade surprise gifts are made from animal products, nor are tested on animals.  This also includes the gift-wrapping for each of the surprise gifts.

We think this is a positive move towards a healthier and more kind gift box experience, and we are happy our company can make this move for both ourselves and our subscribers.

I hope you enjoy the changes, and would love to hear any feedback you might have on this new concept of our handmade subscriptions now also being a vegan monthly subscription box.

Warmly,
Lucy
Fair Ivy Owner

 

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