When Erika Ryan of Neenah, Wis., sat down to reflect on her first year in the family photography business with Lad + Lass Photography, she knew she wanted to do something special for the clients who took a chance on her and her new venture.
She settled on the idea of an end-of-year gift, but wasn't sure exactly what it should be, so she did what most people do: She searched the internet for "client gift ideas." That initial search led her to the idea of including custom packaging as part of her thank-you gifts, and from there she started researching custom packaging sites. Among the packaging companies she found was Distinct Packaging—and she signed up to be on its promotional email list.
Photo by Lad + Lass Photography
"One of the first promotions I got from Distinct Packaging was ten free boxes. So I thought, 'Oh, wow, this is awesome,'" and she jumped on the offer.
Ryan, who works a day job in branding and product design, is an adept designer who knows how important it is to control how "people perceive me and my brand," and it's why she prioritized finding just the right packaging for just the right gift.
"I feel like packaging and your brand in general is so extremely important because I do that for a living. For myself, I angst back and forth over this and that, and how I want people to perceive me and my brand. Packaging and how you put yourself out there is really important."
Read Why Custom Packaging Is Important for Branding Your Business.
Despite any internal back-and-forth as to her own branding and design choices, Ryan says she found Distinct Packaging a breeze to navigate. She opted to design some elements of her custom box offline in her own preferred creative tools, and then tweak a few things once she uploaded her design into the Distinct Packaging tool, which she found "pretty slick and easy-to-use," adding that she "loved being able to see the 3-D rendering" of her box in real-time.
The mailer box Ryan designed utilized the DIY look of a brown kraft box, which she contrasted with her elegant calligraphy logo on top, with more script on the sides. It was perfectly sized for the small photo calendars she created and printed for her clients—each month featuring a new image from each client's earlier photoshoot.
"These kinds of things—gifts—if you give something that's really good quality, I feel like you get what you pay for," Ryan says.
And, indeed, the response she got from her clients exceeded her expectations. "Oh my gosh, they loved it. A couple of them reached out to me personally, some of them responded to the post on Facebook, and I've booked some repeat clients already, so I think that's a pretty telling thing that they really liked the little gift and their session," she says.
That heartfelt customer response was a welcome boost as Ryan has only recently returned to photography after having studied it (along with graphic design) in college—long enough ago that she learned on a manual camera and actual film. After graduation and getting a corporate job, Ryan says she didn't spend much time taking serious photographs. However, once her first daughter was born, she started "reteaching myself to use a DSLR camera" and discovered an affinity for portrait photography.
"The more I took pictures, the more I loved it. My friends started asking me to take pictures of their families and their babies. It just kind of spiraled from there. When I got pregnant with my second daughter, who just turned 9 months, I thought, 'Well maybe I can do this also,'— not that I had a whole lot of time with a 4-year old and a 9-month old and a full-time job," she says.
"I was really craving to do my own work again. I found that as I was taking pictures of my friends and family—I'm doing the work and the editing and I'm shooting them, and I'm just having a super-fun time, even going through the images and culling all the photos, I had a big smile across my face."
That joy made her realize that she needed to give photography another try. "I started it up and people responded, so I'm continually learning and trying to improve things. I'm having a blast doing it."
And no matter where her photography career takes her, she's happy to have Distinct Packaging in her back pocket when she needs custom packaging. Right now, she's working on new products and albums for her clients, and she's planning on ordering packaging around those items too, and when she does, she says it'll be from Distinct Packaging.
To order your own custom packaging for business or personal use, head to DistinctPackaging.com where options include having a designer create your box for you.