I had only begun trying to sell, rather than giving away, my kitsch little pieces of handmade jewellery on the advice of others. But when my list of requests, mostly for relatives and friends, ran thin, I admit it, I was hurt. At craft fairs people commented on how lovely the jewellery was. They picked them up. And then they put them down. And then they walked away. I’d watch far more organised businesses smile as a constant stream of custom came their way. I could never work out what they had that I didn’t. Now I know.
At Christmas I received a ‘joke’ gift from a friend. Meant to make me laugh, the gift actually changed my life. What strikes me even more about the fact a joke has had such a detrimental effect on my life is that the gift I unwrapped was ‘The gift of nothing’.
A simple, white piece of cardboard displaying the nothingness within its half bubble of transparent plastic. I turned it in my hand; beside a barcode on the back of the packet was a price sticker. It amazed me. The creator, in his / her quest to answer the question, ‘what to buy for someone who has everything?’, had turned the answer into a solution, a gift, a tangible joke…and a source of income.
I won’t go as far as to say packaging has saved my business, but discovering creative packaging and thinking about packaging for the first time in twenty years, I feel reinvigorated. I am excited again. somehow I had grown up and become one of the people who buy a present and then frown, bewildered, by the child who only wants to play with the box. But now I remember.
When I was a child, there was no purer pleasure than twisting open the hexagonal, interlocked boxes of Turkish delight my grandfather used to buy me. It was the sole reason I liked Turkish delight, if I am honest. The interlocking pieces of lid that needed carefully twisting apart, causing the box to open like a flower. I can’t tell you about the turkish delight itself, because I don’t remember it, but that box, it was pure magic.