I’ve long wanted to do a personal project. I…kinda did one sometime last year but, I wanted something bigger. I wanted to go all out. My goal is to work with more print + packaging clients, so this project had to focus around that. The hope is that by showcasing this personal project, I can show potential clients my expertise in working with print + packaging.
When Covid hit, I thought it was the perfect opportunity to start. I thought I would have so much extra time to work on this. Spoiler: I did not. This personal project has been done in the margins – a few minutes here and there, 30 minutes at the end of the day, nights and weekends. It’s surreal that it’s finally wrapped up, because it’s taken so dang long.
One of the first things I did was figure out what I wanted to package. Sometimes for htis personal project, I did things a bit differently than I would in a real project. I researched what containers & vessels were available to me at a small scale. I also considered what materials I could package to be cost effective and made my decision that way. That’s how I landed on packaging salt.
I did outline what I anticipated to spend at the beginning of this project. I had estimated $500, which sounds like a lot. But, I was focused on the large scale package projects I could get from it. If I landed just one 5K packaging project from it, it would be worth the investment to me. I’m in a really good place where I was able to invest the money into making this personal project a big thing. I understand not everyone is, and that shouldn’t deter you from still creating a really badass personal project. For me, I weighed the pros and cons and it was worth it. Below in the vendor section I list everything I bought and the associated costs.
At this point I’d chosen what I wanted to package, so I began working on the branding itself. Choosing a name is always a hard task! At the time, I was reading a murder mystery novel and the main characters name was Oren, so I altered that a bit and just went with it! During this process I settled on the name, the vibe of the brand and project, and the packages I wanted to create. I worked on a project last year where I fell in love with a beautiful cobalt blue color. Unfortunately, the client didn’t feel the same way, but I knew I had to use it in the future, and it fit perfectly for this project.
Originally I had planned on just doing a larger jar of salt and a box for it, but a close friend of mine is a chef and offered some wise input. During her time in culinary school, she worked at Williams Sonoma and shared that most companies have tasting sets. Since most dream packaging projects would include more than one box, I decided to take her advice and create a tasting set as well. The final product includes three 4oz. Jars and boxes and a sampling set containing 1oz jars of each flavor.
After I’d settled on the branding, I began to dig more deeply into sourcing vessels.
It did take some time to find jars for both sizes that looked alike and I didn’t have to buy a massive quantity of. The two things I knew I wanted: straight glass sides and flat surface lids. Eventually, I found exactly what I was looking for from a dispensary supply store (sharing all vendors in a section below). The lid was plastic and a bit glossier than I wanted, but that’s nothing a little matte black spray paint couldn’t fix.
Once the jars came in, I could really get started on the fun part. With some basic sticker paper I already had, I began testing label sizes. I had already started on some speculative label designs, but this really helped me nail down sizes so I could begin designing with the jars in mind.
During this phase I also began working on dielines. I had already placed my paper order, but didn’t want to waste the nice cobalt paper so worked with some basic 13×19 I had in stock. I found a helpful dieline generator online and, based on the jar sizes, input the size boxes I wanted. This process took a lot of experimentation, printing, assembling, and reworking. Fortunately, I love working with my hands so I wasn’t mad about it. Once I had nailed down the box sizes, then I could repeat the label sizing process to figure out exact labels sizes for the boxes.
Once these sizes were determined, I was able to place the order for the embossing tool. I made sure this tool could be used on both size boxes and the booklets.
Everything for this personal project is coming together nicely at this point!
The brand is done, the jars are in, the box sizes are determined and mostly assembled. But, I hadn’t settled on the exact flavors I wanted the salt to be! So, I went to my local market and checked out their selections. I wanted the salt flavors to be high end, but also for the everyday chef. I bought some mixed salt selections and a large bag of sea salt. In the end, I settled on Lavender Sea Salt, Lemon Dill Sea Salt, and Black Truffle Sea Salt. Now, I could finally finish up the labels!
It was around this time that I last minute decided I needed to pull in a copywriter. I knew Orenson Salt Co. was a family owned operation, but that was as far as I could get in writing good copy. I also wanted to include a little booklet in each box, like most high end food packaging would. So, I pulled in a copywriter who was thankfully willing to work with me last minute! Once I got the copy back from her, I was able to design the booklets.
Everything was finally complete, so it was time to begin ordering the print items. I worked with my go-to printer and placed the order. It came in a few days later, and I began assembling, which was lots of fun!
Personal Project Photoshoot
Obviously I couldn’t go this big on a project and not get it photographed professionally! During the assembly process I began sourcing props. I had ideas of what I wanted, but I definitely should have started this process sooner. I didn’t realize how much Covid-19 had affected shipping dates. For that reason, I had to do a lot of research to source items that would come in quickly. IE not the beautiful handmade pottery I wanted from Lithuania. I could have shortened this timeline by beginning the sourcing process sooner.
I won’t lie, this project took a LONG time. Like I mentioned earlier, it was done very much in the margins. I began late March and wrapped up by early August. If this was a client project, it would have been much more seamless. But, this timeline felt ok with the workload I had at the time. I had a lot of grace for myself throughout the process.
Vendors & Cost
Supplies & Tools:
- Paper – $52.75
- Jars – $58.30
- Printing – $32.13
- Salt – $31.15
- Spray Paint – $6.80
- Booklet Assembly Tools & String – $6.72
- Embossing Tool – $42.90
- Ink (for my own test prints) – $16.92
- Half Circle Cutting Tool – $18.35
Props (admittedly, I went a bit overboard here):
- Napkins, spoon, dish, marble ball (didn’t come in time) – $74.25
- Dried Lavender – $8
- Dried Lemon – $9.75
- Gold Spoon (I bought three gold spoons total – I ordered this one in June and it still hasn’t arrived) – $5.35
- Gold Spoon (the one we DID use) – $19 (I know, I know, but it was perfect)
- Copywriter – $90
- Photographer – $150
This brings the grand total of the project to $622.37. I had originally intended to spend around $500, but I kept track of my spending the entire time and felt ok with the investment.
The final product
Alas, the final product! I received over 65 photos in the end, so it’s SO hard to narrow them down. I’m sharing just a few here. You can also view the project on my website.
Finally, I spent a lot of money on this project. I’m confident it will be worth the return for my own business. But, don’t let finances stop you from creating an amazing personal project to attract those dream clients! There are so many mockups and resources out there that can make this possible without spending the money.