Simple + Earthy Packaging Inspiration

Feels like it’s been forever that I have been scouring the internet in search of packaging inspiration that suited me. Ideas layered upon ideas, I felt there were lots of pretty options out there but none of them really shouted ‘ASHLEY’! Archival wooden boxes are beautiful, and I wish I was as elegant as the ‘fine art film’ look of linen gently tied with silk ribbon but none of these elements quite reflect my own personal bright, eclectic and feminine style with a bit of edge. Not to mention insanely expensive. And just when it felt like I couldn’t call one one more company and to hear an outrageous quote, or search pinterest for ‘photography packaging ideas’ I finally FINALLY came up with my own (and a year later found someone to make it happen).

In my search I sourced lots of great things other photographers were doing, but I wanted something different. Something of my own devices that I hadn’t really seen. So instead of looking towards the industry I was in I let my mind venture and took note of what inspired me in fashion. I know that it feels so good to hold a solidly made product in your hands with the prettiest details, gift wrapped so nice that you hardly even want to open it. That the quality of paper and mixture of textures has a subconscious impact and even the most insignificant of detailing can make all the difference. In my online search unique and ‘un-photography’ related business packaging was hard to come by but I found myself most inspired by the lighthearted and fun boxes in retail (in particular monthly subscription boxes!). Soon I will unveil my own, but for now here are some fun ideas I uncovered while perusing, best suited for a clean, organic and downright hipster style:

One  |  Two  |  Three  |  Four  |  Five  |  Six

1.  I love the idea of individually labeling items with simple wraps and including a small local goodie or jam.

2. Using a rubber stamp to detail a wooden box with your logo makes it custom for a pocket-friendly price. Add a ribbon with a sweet tag and boom! Gorg.

3.  Instead of a $75 box just for the album how about wrap it up pretty with a custom tag, instead? Makes it feel more like a gift, dontcha think?

4 + 5: Inspired by clever monthly subscription boxes simple can be fabulous. Consider adding some pattern paper to make it feel more complete and good-to-go.

6. Custom made proof boxes from HHBoogie feel like treasures from the past.

If you’re looking for ideas outside the realm of Pinterest, check out theDieline.com, full of cool, quirky branding and clean, cutting edge graphic design and packaging. Also consider taking a nod from some of your personal favorite brands! I did!

 

 

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Wearing a bikini on the beach with Britney Spears.

I will start this post off by saying it’s not nearly as exciting as one would expect. Nor do I win any cool points, as my husband is the link behind this afternoon at the beach and I was just the wife who found it absolutely necessary to greet everyone with a box of freshly made Leonard’s malasadas. However once you think about it, it is kinda surreal however people are just…well…people.

On Wednesday Marshall + I packed up the jeep with two umbrellas, every beach towel in the house and about a million boogie boards to meet David and his girlfriend…Britney Spears to usher them onto a secluded beach on island. Random, I know. Even more random is this photo she later instagrammed with my giant behind in the background:

Here’s how it happened:

Marshall, my husband, grew up in Appomattox with David. They have kept in contact over the years, so when David decided to head to the islands with Britney and her sons he hit Marshall up. Interested in a beach day full of fun waves for the boys and nestled away from the chaos of paparazzi constantly trying to snatch an unflattering image they looked to Marshall for ideas of quiet locales. Thankfully we had just the right spot in mind that would keep unwanted intruders at bay. Marshall orchestrated with her security, we borrowed his boss’s boogie boards, I tried on multiple bikinis, my sister demanded while there I get Adam Levine’s phone number, I smeared hemroid cream over my thighs (apparently this helps with cellulite? I had never tried before, but figured today was the day!) we loaded up the jeep and set out to meet them.

Once guided through the post to a chill beach spot we casually introduced ourselves. We let the boys pick their boogie boards (they were super pumped) and began setting up shop. (We went full on ‘Hawaiian style’ and practically set up living quarters. You know how we do). Then, we let them be. So this may sound silly, but before heading out I went into serious prayer mode. Nothing like “Oh please God, make Britney my new Best Friend!” (looking back maybe I should have thrown that in there…) but more like “Just guide us today, show us what this random meeting is for, and help us to be whatever it is this person needs today…”. A friendly genuine smile, or just a guide onto a quiet, private beach. A moment of solitude. That we be the vessels in which help make someone feel relaxed and at peace for a few hours. And while there, I was shown. The waves were rolling, the sun was shining, and although I don’t personally know David and Britney, they were able to settle for a bit and somewhat chill. (Well, their version of chill is NOT my version, as they seem to always have to be ‘on guard’–this would drive me bonkers) Being the lover of Leonards that I am, I brought along a dozen mixed malasadas as people simply can’t head to Hawai’i and NOT HAVE THIS DELICIOUSNESS. That would be a travesty. I passed the Portuguese donuts out to the few security guys, insisting they have more than one, and felt immediate remorse once I opened the box up to the pop princess. You don’t get a body like that by eating donuts. Clearly I get a body like this eating donuts.

Marshall and I decided to hit the water where he and David began to reminisce, poking fun at me from being from Buckingham and Britney along with her boys made efforts to catch some waves. Marshall gave out pointers on how to best catch them which I scoffed at– hellooooo, IIIIII am the best boogie boarder in this marriage. I floated around on my giant pretzel, simply happy to be in the Pacific ocean on a Wednesday. Soon after, Marshall and I decided to reinstate our ongoing competition and ride the surf–I totally won. See, I’m telling you, it’s totally not that bruting and deep.

There was one moment while Marshall and David caught up with one another that I noticed Britney on the beach by herself. My immediate reaction as a human was “I don’t want her to feel left out…maybe I should go talk to her…”. Then my feelings as a skeptic said “maybe she doesn’t want to be bothered by me”. A wave took me out right about then, washing salt water into my sinuses and sand into my ‘kini, forcing me to get my ish together and towel off on shore. I decided to go and simply be kind to the singer and offer up some Maui Babe. What girl can resist Maui babe? I had already asked how they met (which encouraged a “did you really just ask that?” look from Marshall) so I worried maybe I wouldn’t say the right things. You know, kinda like how you probably shouldn’t say ‘da bomb’ on an airplane, I worried maybe my sense of humor wouldn’t jive and I should probably keep that joke about lacing the malasadas to myself. I don’t know how to have any sort of conversation other than a normal one and as I honestly didn’t have much to ask her, I also don’t know much about her either. Sure, I know the things you can’t avoid from the media, but I just, well, wanted to be real and talk but I worried my typical questions could be perceived as prying so I stifled my endless desire as a conversationalist and focused on working on my tan. Cause that girl was already looking local and I AM THE ONE WHO LIVES HERE.

We all shared TV shows we loved, laughed at the boys having a flipping ball in the waves, in true Marshall style he passed out hawaiian candies, laughed hysterically when David busted his ass trying to skim board (as Britney so sweetly worried about him. Here we are, cracking up…) I made sure people were eating the rest of the malasadas and we just…well…kicked it. 

It was pretty normal….mixed with awkward…but only for me, as I was encouraged to do the reverse of what I normally do and give love how the people we were with needed it, not how I perceive it. Typically I use talking and questions led by genuine interest in others to make them feel comfortable and at ease and felt in THIS instance being quiet was most likely more comforting. This is sincerely a hard concept for me to grasp. Can you imagine it? ME! Hardly talking?!?! Okay, probably more like a quarter less of words, but still.  To me THAT’S AWKWARD.

The experience was cool, so, I won’t deny it, but I genuinely tried to approach it from a different standpoint and in turn learned an exponential amount about myself. Instead of thinking about what she could do for me I wanted to think about what I could do for her (and those around her). Sure, I could kindly request a shameless instagram shoutout (dammit why didn’t I?), or ask “can I take some film photos of y’all” (while they weren’t allowed…) but in a life where trusting anyone around you feels daunting and maybe impossible, where everyone wants something and wants to exploit you for their personal gain, I genuinely wanted to make sure everyone there was comfortable and having a good time–whatever that meant; giving a beach chair to her security, offering up malasadas, and making sure the boys had all sorts of options of things to play with. Conversation or lack there of, whatever they all needed to have a glimpse of feeling ‘normal’. Yes, it’s absolutely a trade-off when you make tons of money it comes at a price, but can you ever imagine having to be so strategic with your days? Or seeing nasty instagram comments about your body in a bikini? Not having freedoms to hop up and head to the restaurant down the street without it being a giant production? I thrive off close relationships with people I love fueled by deep conversation and although I don’t know the inner workings of fame I feel sincere friendships and solid levels of trust and kindness are hard to come by. And that made me sad. It makes you wonder: is it worth all the money?

And you want to know THE WEIRDEST thing about it all? I was in my bikini on the beach with Britney Spears and didn’t give a damn. Seriously. It was SO FREAKING ODD, considering I gave much thought and attention into which suit I was going to wear, even contemplated buying a new one for the occasion and in the moment I could care less.  THAT IS UNTIL I SAW MY GIANT BEHIND HERE. Then I thought “maybe I SHOULD have cared….”

(ps: come on, Edon! Should have let the PHOTOGRAPHER take this photo, then A: their feet would be in it and B: she wouldn’t be PHOTO BOMBING the otherwise fabulous scenery. But then I’d own the copyright, and not the security guard, so that could get hair, huh?  ;) WOW there’s so much as a celebrity to think about, it seems exhausting.). I won’t lie, when I first saw this photo I got excited because as no photos were allowed by us on the beach I worried “photos or it didn’t happen”. And then THERE’S A PHOTO and my GIANT BOOTY IS THERE! Which two seconds later caused me to hyperventilate as excitement turned to sheer panic. Look, I know no one is going to look at this photo and say “Hey look, that’s Ashley Goodwin and Marshall Woods over there!” other than ME, but truly, I am kind of mortified that there is this potentially great group shot on a peaceful beach and then there’s us, straight up bombing the back. Which THEN got me all panicked as I could hear Giuliana Ranic comment “great shot, minus THOSE folks!” in her snarky way. And then, again, I realized how ABSOLUTELY RIDICULOUS I was being because no one gives a dern that we are back there ruining the shot…right?!?! And resisted searching all instagram comments to make sure. And now I’m over thinking it. Shesh, that’s a glimpse into her life a little bit, right? I’m too much of a baby, I couldn’t handle such fame. She, however, does it with kindness and a sweet smile. I only have good things to say about all of them, she is gentle and quiet with a sweet soul, David is generous and humble who clearly cares a lot about her (and still straight up Appomattox!  He just needs the pineapple haircut…), the kids are seriously the funniest little munchkins who act like twins and her security team, who look like they are from a scene in a Liam Neilson movie but are actually quite nice.

Do I regret not asking for a #selfie? Kinda! And sure, I could be super humble and not whisper a word about our fun day..but it is freaking Britney Spears, how do you NOT say anything? Exactly. But in seriousness, it was rather normal and uneventful and left me grateful that Marshall and I were able to unify and be the team we’ve always aspired to be, one that’s there for people. We didn’t save a life or change the world,  it’s just being around fame which probably isn’t as cool as it seems, but when you think about how little time celebrities of this nature actually get to live in the world being able to help provide them a paparazzi free day where not a soul even noticed them on the beach (seriously, no one!), then an uneventful day’s pretty awesome. I am proud that we were able to not have potential desires with selfish motives and just be for a few hoursI do however, regret not asking her how she got that perfectly wavy blonde hair back in 2000. Oooooh I used to dreammmmm about that hair.

 

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Hollywood, Kid.

This morning, I’m exhausted and truly don’t feel like doing much thinking let alone blogging. And I won’t lie and act like it’s because I’ve been working hard all night because really it’s because Marshall and I were up all night kicking it with one of Marshall’s hometown friends. Yesterday we had a few hours that most would see as simply surreal. And as it was an incredible experience I sadly wasn’t allowed to get photos of (pictures or it didn’t happen–right?), it really has me thinking. And realizing. And analyzing myself like a motha, contemplating the culture and cost of wide-spread ‘fame‘. And mostly spending a very nonchalant and quiet beach day with a person that most people in the entire world know of taught me a million things about my inner self and how we are to love others not how we perceive it, but how they need it.

I know this is annoyingly vague and it drives me nuts when people throw out stuff like that then leave you with no more, however Monday I fully intend on giving it a solid blog post (and maybe by then we will be able to get a photo with the mystery guest). For now I cuddle a coffee, wrap this client magazine, and try to stop analyzing the workings of Hollywood fame. I sure as heck have an uncanny way to see everything as a business lesson, I swear. Sometimes I wish I could just roll with things as they were without thinking much further than that, but it’s not how my brain works.

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Getting Organized: Taming Your Inbox

Ohhhh small business organization. As much as I try, I have never been a master of it. As a kid cleaning my room consisted of making a pathway from the bed to the door, or, if I was feeling real giving shoving it all under the bed. If like me you weren’t born with the color coding gene it’s far to easy to let paperwork go un-filed and your inbox run amuck sorting everything into one massive “Business” folder. The day I realized my emails were all over the place and my current system was giving me anxiety at 9am, I had to pull my isn together. Thankfully my sister Sarah shared her tried and true technique (she’s the organizer in the family who would consistently vacuum her bedroom carpet in a strategic pattern…her cleanliness was also a guise to catch her younger sister sneaking into her room in the middle of the day, attempting to catch tell-tell footprints on the freshly cleaned rug. Luckily I was on to her boobytrapping tricks and would grab the tiara I came in for and back out the bedroom, wiping away my tracks as I went. So she may have it together, but I am clearly sneakier. And will do anything for a rhinestone tiara.).

My shiny inbox is now divided into categories (Bride Correspondence, Bride Potentials, Client Potentials, and Completed Clients, along with Business receipts, Business Correspondence, etc.).  Sub-labels are made under each folder listing the name and wedding dates of both inquiries and booked clients, and once a contract is received, a “Potential” is moved to “Correspondence”. This is an easy way to at a glance view my booked vs. inquired dates and organize conversations. It’s also incredibly conveinent being able to follow up with inquiries without things getting lost in the shuffle. (Gmail is so CRAZY sometimes I swear, it eats emails both new and archived). Searching for messages via gmail is just a disaster, maybe I am not sure what I’m doing, but I have found keeping them organized from the get-go makes things run much, much smoother. I also avoid checking my emails via my iPhone at all costs. Not only is it easy to get sucked into work mode during husband time and on beach days, but I also am convinced my iPhone is up to no good and my butt archives messages without me knowing it.

When clients are completed and all materials are mailed to them, they are moved to the ‘Completed Clients’ category where I print all correspondence and file along with their contract, wedding day timeline, and any receipts pertaining to their event. “Business Receipts” are printed from their folder and filed every so often, and initial inquiries (without booking) get deleted after about a month or two.

I make a point to answer emails first thing in the morning and try to not let it take ahold of my day. Sometimes my schedule won’t allow for the immediate answering of emails (and I don’t even TOUCH them on the weekends or after business hours), so I try to not beat myself up about it and follow-up the next business day. Speedy correspondence is exceptionally important (especially on the islands–I’m not on Hawai’i time here!) as well as setting expectations, so along with getting back to folks as promptly as I can I also list office hours in the footer of my messages.

I’d love to hear how YOU manage your inbox!

 

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