A peek into our packaging
LivingClay has aways stood for sustainability from the start.
The very choice of our product - handcrafted ceramic ware that is produced using slow and mindful processes and in small batches reflects the respect we have for the environment.
And therefore, shipping these beautifully crafted objects in material that is harmful to our planet just seems wrong. So here are the stages that we have gone through to remain sustainable and yet evolve our packaging to help make our products look and feel even better.
2016 - 2017 We depended hugely on reused cartons and newspaper. We were small and I was completely unaware of what it takes to set the packaging system going. Remember, I come from a teaching background - taught French for nearly 22 years before taking a plunge into entrepreneurship.
Of course, back then those who knew LivingClay formed a small community of family and friends. Orders were small and came in trickles. So the reused carton and newspapers worked. But a lot had to be learnt and I was a novice. There were several instances when products reached in a broken condition - embarrassing! I had also invested in a batch of brown paper bags with my stickers on them.The brand colours were red and white with a doodle as my logo.
I also used simple cartons (3 ply corrugated boxes) bought from the wholesale market in Pune - they had to be closed and sealed using celo tape. I used newspaper for gap filling.
A little later, sometime in 2017, I even "designed" labels with the doodle and a product picture with all details. I liked them because they seemed better than the reused cartons. But I knew this had to improve. What I dreamed of was those beautiful self-locking boxes that lend that "over-the-top" unboxing experience. Yes, it mattered to me and it always has.
But budget constraints!
2018-2919 I was detected with cancer and the whole activity came to a stand still. My husband managed the few orders that trickled in. In fact, a customer walked in the day I had returned after my first chemotherapy session. I felt weak and tired, but, excited to see a customer enthusiastically picking up things.
2020 Back on my two feet after the battle with cancer, I felt I needed to spring into action and get going. LivingClay was already on Facebook. Soon LivingClay got on to Instagram too. Once again, learning, experimenting, understanding the world of branding started. With my presence on Instagram awareness about the brand grew and there were orders and more orders and so once again I had to rethink packaging.
I realised that those paper bags were not the right thing to hold ceramic ware.
So another step towards evolution - cloth bags! I managed to find a great manufacturer of cloth bags in Bangalore. And soon we had these rather beautiful eco-friendly cloth bags with my new logo printed on them. Wow! I certainly felt this was getting better.
Strangely and fortunately, LivingClay saw a jump in growth in the summer of 2020 - yes! at the peak of the first lockdown. With orders on the rise, I turned to Amazon for my boxes and finally discovered those gorgeous self-locking corrugated boxes that I had always dreamt of - they opened sleekly, were eco-friendly and had that beautiful earthiness about them. I decided to go for bubble wrap (remembering the embarrassment of broken items at delivery) and newspapers, but also decided to embellish the packaging further with white wrapping paper. (I've always loved the idea of my products looking beautifully packaged).
2021 I have always shared these stories with friends and family over conversations. And then, during one such conversation, a friend suggested I collect boxes and material he discards from mail orders. This, I thought was a beautiful story - LivingClay packaged in material from mail orders! No more buying and reusing what is waste.
This triggered the start of a system. Today, there is this growing community of beautiful people who believe in protecting the environment and who see beauty in sustainable and simple living. And I get most of my packaging material from them.
So, what does our packaging look like today? We dispatch our products in a "box in a box". The products are wrapped in bubble pack, and then in white wrapping paper, are packed safely in the inner box and held in place with fillers and separators. This box is then packed in a larger sturdier box and there are fillers in between. I insert a a care card with instructions for care and use too.
So if I use bubble wrap or packaging foam, they are coming from mail orders and I'm saving them from landing up in polluting landfills. This year, friends have also offered to collect and send me hay used in mango boxes! How cool is that!
However, I do invest in e-flute corrugated boxes, and inserts with care instructions. But the main gap filler material and outer boxes comes from mail order packaging.
So the packaging is simple, not uniform and no box is alike, but there certainly is a kind of soulfulness about these boxes that arrive at your door step ready to be unboxed.