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parcel identity

Don't blame the courier

An interesting conversation on social media recently got me thinking. A post on an Etsy sellers page was discussing the presentation of parcels through the post. Now, to me customer service is the most important thing to give a lot of attention to, down to the very tiniest of details and so I actually found myself amazed at the lack of care and consideration some crafters seem to have.

Punky stuff made with love

After the initial first impressions created through a quick, polite message as recognition of an order, (including the posting date), I also message a photograph of the proof of posting too after it has been handed over to the carrier. By these simple two personal messages, the customer is advised of the posting day, has proof that the goods have been sent and so never has to wonder about how their order is progressing. This completely alleviates the need for a customer to contact me with any concerns, unless there are abnormal issues with the carrier. Even this can be avoided at peak times (to an extent), by high-lighting postal delays such as at Christmas, when messaging folk.

My own hand written font

I worked as a parcel courier for 25 years, starting in 1995 way before internet shopping was the norm. I watched the industry grow and even today with the industry being the backbone of the country, there are still no regulations or generic standards. The courier industry is HUGE. As an example; the depot I worked at was of average size and turned over 2-3,000 a day. Imagine 10 courier companies in an average town, you're looking at around 25,000 parcels being moved daily, plus all the post office and large hauliers freight. The margins for errors can potentially be vast, from wrong addresses, poor packaging, vehicle breakdowns, staff sickness and damaged goods. It is a thankless task working as a courier, so I do my very best to be a hassle free customer. As an example of how the industry has grown, in 2001 I had a route with about 50 stops a day on it. In 2018, that same area was covered by 4 vans, each having 70-100 stops a day, around 300-400 in total a day! Phenomenal progression!


Perhaps my years of experience dealing with parcels has helped me to appreciate how much can go wrong, and so pay meticulous attention to make sure my parcels are secure and waterproof. It is vital that the box fits the item with no room for movement. I get free, perfect size boxes from a candle shop who would have thrown them out. Not only are they recycled, really thick cardboard, but they have no labels or marks, making them ideal.

Personalised packing

Art of packing

One of my most recent 5* reviews said receiving my parcel was a 'Wonderment Event', which is exactly the effect I try to achieve. The current level of presentation has been developed over the last 2 years and whilst the initial costs added up, once broken down for each parcel, it was a matter of pence to package to an extremely high standard.

The process of packing a parcel can quite often take longer than the making of the item itself. There are many layers using calico bags, recycled boxes and parcel paper as I try to replicate the fun and intrigue we shared as kiddies whilst playing Pass-the-parcel. I spend ALL of my spare time on time consuming production tasks, such as:

  • Little lavender bag free gifts filled with hand picked Lincolnshire lavender, with a Tibetan silver charm tied with thin natural, jute twine. Picking, drying and tying the lavender takes up all of August.

  • Hand printing acorns onto brown parcel paper

  • Cutting, folding and taping grocery boxes to make recycled, sturdy envelopes for my cards to travel in

  • Printing, cutting out and threading ribbons through card logos to attach to organza and jute bags.

  • Making daisy tags by cutting card into strips, punching a small hole for thin jute twine to be hung from and gluing a paper daisy, ready for hand written identity tags

  • Printing and cutting my own compliment slips, thank you tags and address labels

Whilst all of the above take up a lot of time, I found that making a lot of one thing at a time really cut down on time as it was surprising how much was taken up preparing for and tidying up after a task.

Inside the box

Extreme packing

Once the items are made they are put into presentation packaging.

  • Pom poms in labelled organza bags

  • Birdies, knobs and stones wrapped in tissue then in little calico bags

  • Cards go in recycled card envelopes decorated with an acorn stamp

I then pack everything at my packing station where I store ribbon, paper and tapes. There is no standard set-up as each parcel is packed uniquely.

1. Line a box with matching tissue, so there is a flap left to neatly fold over the top.

2. Pack the goods in an aesthetic manner, adding a free gift herb bag and tucking the tissue flap over the top, sealed with a Cat's Punky Stuff sticker. I sometimes also tie a jute twine thread with a bow on top of the tissue. I ensure all labels are showing neatly and if the box is a little empty, I pack it out with bubble wrap. I always hand write a compliment slip, include a small card of thanks and will always use the language of the destination country, with the help of a translator online.

Little Lavender button holes

3. The box is then sealed with an organza ribbon and a 'handmade with love', clear sticker

4. I have several stamps to made home printed parcel paper, including pine cones, rabbits, bees and butterflies. Once the box is wrapped, this then has a different coloured organza ribbon wrapped around it. I did not want to ruin the parcel with labels and postal stamps and so add a final layer, for waterproofing, security and fragile tape and any postal labels.

5. The fifth layer is of clear cello. I hate using plastics, but I cannot risk the boxes getting wet, especially the woollen stuff. The cello is secured with fragile tape on a discrete side and a home printed address label is taped on the top, with the organza ribbon beneath showing through.

Home printed, decorated address label

6. I have perfected my own font, influenced by runes. I use it for all of my hand written tags and address labels. It was important for my parcels to have an identity as they travel through the post and so I have my logo and web site on the cream address labels. The final detail is an acorn stamped on the label, sealed completely so it is waterproof and cannot come off with a final 'thank you' sticker stuck in the corner. I prefer none-patterned cello, but this star one was on sale after Christmas.


Although to a lot of people this all may seem a little excessive, and it is to be fair, but I want folk who buy from me to feel really special, where it is quite clear they have bought from someone who values the personal touch, a uniqueness and very personal service. It is a great honour when someone buys one of my things and this appreciation can be shown by meticulous attention to detail. This may even go as far as upgrading the postage on urgent orders at no extra charge to the buyer, automatically sending large orders on an upgraded tracking service, always offering a little free gift like a herb bag or a little woollen robin at Christmas time and treating each customer like they are the only ones in the world. When reading the post on the Etsy social media page, I was quite shocked by the opinions that some crafters have and the appalling customer ethics I read about.


Total submergence

A lot of my attention to detail is achieved by working none stop. Since December 18th 2018 I have had two days off. I cannot watch a film whilst sitting still and instead sit cutting to size printed literature, filling lavender bags or cutting up frozen pizza boxes. It is total submersion in an endeavour to make Cat's Punky Stuff associated with a customer service of a time gone by. Back in the day, the Arts and Crafts movement made beautiful pieces by hand, offering something unique against the mass produced stuff widely available. I see crafters today

churning out stuff, chasing the pound, completely missing the point about providing a small business service. Even when I am exceptionally busy and really pushed for time, my end goals do not change nor does the attention to detail flounder, it just means I sleep less. It is a bit of an experiment too, to see if there is a requirement for a personal service, that if it were accounted for in the price of the products, would completely price them out of the market.


Having the priceless gift of time puts me in a league of my own!





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