Gareth Robertson, practising safe design, always using a concept…

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I am Creative Director at Design Pit, a boutique creative agency based in Lichfield. We’re an award winning creative agency delivering memorable packaging design, business communications and heightened brand credibility. We help clients to talk with clarity and confidence with a carefully considered approach to creative graphic design. We love learning about new industries, new technologies and new ventures, feeding off the passion that people have for what they do and apply our own skills to showcase their talent in the best possible light. We love helping people to build their business through strategic design and communication; sharing in their success as they grow and developing solutions to marketing conundrums along the way. As designers, every day looks different, a new set of challenges, a new type of media, a new message to develop… Good design is good business.


Over my career I’ve had a lot of experience within the packaging design arena. I’ve worked in small and medium sized design agencies on various projects for household names and smaller less well known brands, on everything from point of sale to literature design to packaging.

From University I went into a role as a junior designer at PHd Design in Staffordshire, they did a lot of packaging and labeling work and also branded several cider brands for Aston Manor Brewery in Birmingham. I was fortunate enough to work on brand development projects with this client for Frosty Jacks, Kingstone Press, Crumpton Oaks, Chardolini and Knights cider brands. I created new logos, labels, boxes, shrink wraps and various promo pieces such as curtain siders for 40 foot long wagons, banners and table mats.



Here at PHd, I was also involved with a range of products being brought into the UK by importing company Heley International. They were delivering a range of product portfolios to the “pound trade” in shops such as B&M Bargains and Poundland. I was involved in relaunching the well known washing powder brand Radion into UK stores along with a plethora of other product packs including toothpaste packs, toothbrushes, cans of fizzy drinks, air fresheners, air freshener refill blister packs, toilet roll and kitchen rolls, coffee jars and paper wraps, baby wipes, tissues and various others. Working in this area gave me a clear insight to working with suppliers from abroad in China and Hong Kong and the challenges it can bring when communicating with people who don’t speak the same language as you do!

After seven years at PHd Design, I spent some time abroad traveling and when I returned to the UK I secured a role at Juice Creative in Leicester. This agency did a whole range of work for well-known confectionary and pet food brands. I was working on some household names customer-facing materials here, developing new cut forms and designs point of sale stands, packets for sweets, tins for dog and cat food and a range of store-based campaigns to drive sales and push to key point of sale points within the shops. This helped me to shape ideas and form the foundations of understanding very clearly the fundamentals of shelf presence. This is key knowledge for anyone working with the likes of Mars Bars, Maltesers, Bounty, Snickers and pet foods like Cesar, Sheba, Pedigree Chum and Whiskas.



My short time at Juice was eye-opening and gave me the confidence in my own abilities to “go it alone” and set up my own studio. It was a very small set up to start with – just me at a home office at parent’s house, back in 2012. The idea was to build a name and reputation that was found on service. Giving people a reliable resource for excellent creative design services across the marketing spectrum. The early years were tough, juggling my time and trying to secure the right type of work whilst still being able to pay my bills! I maintained from the very start that I would not simply take any work on offer, but I’d stick to my guns and focus on getting the right type of design brief so I could allow my skills to shine through. It didn’t always work out like that but in the main I was true to myself and my vision of what I wanted my studio and business to be.

Now, nearly 7 years down the line we have a team based in a studio just north of Birmingham in leafy Lichfield – a small city in the heart of the creative county of Staffordshire. We have a growing portfolio of packaging work that includes some real gems and success stories including Awesome Fun Face Paints – America #1 seller in category on Amazon, Kalkaire toothcare range – toothpastes and charcoal teeth whitening products, Seguro CBD Oil – organically grown Spanish oils and balms, Kickin’ Ketchup and Headleys Hot Sauce – Bajan inspired spicy condiments and cooking sauces, United Odd Socks sleeves – novelty odd socks boxes for a GA member based in Hitchin, and more recently some Pirate toy packs – for GA member Ravensden. We’ve also created bottle labels for a local gym, takeaway coffee cups for Holiday Inn and promotional hot flasks for a recruitment agency.



Why we’ve joined the GA?

Quite simply, we want to do more work in the packaging arena. And the GA has a roster of members with products to package! My goal for my business is to become an authority on making giftware packaging look great, engage with customers and drive sales. I plan to work closely with the team at the GA to help members to understand the impact of packaging on a product’s performance and how buying decisions are influenced by what a pack looks like – in-store or online.

Humans are inherently visual beings and we become fascinated with what we see, touch, hold. We buy with our eyes. And that starts with how a product looks on a shelf or on a screen. Designing packaging that is fit for the market it is selling to is an art form that should be considered carefully. We have the skill set to take a brief, talk it through, listen to what information we’re given and then interpret the knowledge we’ve gained into a design layout that not only looks great but can also be produced economically, environmentally friendly wherever possible and delivered to the right quantity, on time, on budget… everytime.

What next?

I hope to meet as many members as possible in the coming weeks and months and I’ll be attending some of the GA events locally in Birmingham and in the wider region to offer advice, support and guidance on packaging designs and associated services like branding, literature, social media content, packaging production and how we can provide a lot of these services from under one roof!

Gareth Robertson

Creative Director – Design Pit Ltd

01543 241 251

TW: @design_pit

IG: @designpituk

FB: /thedesignpit

LK: /in/garethrobertson-designpit/DP logo



Birmingham based British Allied Trades Federation (BATF) receive the commemorative ‘Silence Fell’ silverware to mark the end of the Great War. 

Last year the BATF board decided to commission a special piece to join its boardroom silver collection and tasked one of its member associations The National Association of Jewellers to help find a fitting item.  A national competition was held to design and make a piece of silverware to commemorate the end of the First World War, taking that ceasefire as inspiration. At the beginning of the year Claire Malet was announced as the designer silversmith winner and now she presents her piece to Kate Owen BATF Director and Gary Wroe BATF President and MD of Birmingham manufacturing company Hockley Mint. 

Since then Claire Malet metal artist and silversmith has been working on her winning piece,‘Silence Fell’ inspired by the desolate war landscapes painted by Paul Nash during the First World War.  


It features four hollow tree forms in Britannia silver, one of each year of the war with silver ‘seedlings’ surround the trees symbolizing the tentative hope for a peaceful future, after such overwhelming suffering and loss. The trees have been placed on a subtly carved walnut base turned by Nick Barberton.  

‘They have been over 40 hours in the making with the textured and chased silver sheets being bent into hollow tree forms adding the sterling silver seedlings have brought the piece to life,’ Commented Claire.

It was hallmarked at Birmingham Assay Office and delivered to the BATF on the the November to be displayed alongside other award-winning silverware. 

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Card and Gift Network 1

Card & Gift Network has launched a brand-new, consumer-focused sister site, The Online Gift Guide ( with the aim of offering designers, makers and independent retailers a new opportunity to promote their business direct to consumers.

The new site comprises space for gift products (complimentary products such as cards and gift wrap are welcome too!) and a directory of card and gift shops selling online (via their own sites or a marketplace).

These listing options enable designers, makers and retailers an opportunity to contribute to the site in a way that suits them. Whether they add one gift idea or list their whole business, they have a new way to reach gift seekers direct.

Card and Gift Network 2

By uniting lots of designers, makers and retailers together Charlotte hopes that they can create the ultimate Gift Guide for every occasion.

Charlotte commented, “We have a fantastic industry with endless knowledge and gift ideas for every occasion. For me, they’re the perfect people to help shoppers solve their gifting dilemmas”.

As well as inspiring gift seekers, The Online Gift Guide also helps the card & gift businesses; giving them a platform to regularly promote their products and brand.

Charlotte added,  “There’s a lot of noise online so it’s important that we get our designers, makers and retailers in front of gift seekers as much as possible. With The Online Gift Guide we can keep showing what our industry has to offer in a way that is inspiring and helpful to consumers.”

Card and Gift Network 3

The Launch

The Online Gift Guide’s debut gifting event will be Christmas 2018. So far the website has had over 300 products submitted, with more expected in the coming days and weeks.  After the holiday season The Online Gift Guide will create regular themed gift guides to inspire shoppers, showcase trends and celebrate gifting occasions.

Why The Online Gift Guide was Created

Charlotte’s mission with Card & Gift Network is to help the greetings & giftware industries use the online world to grow their business.  Since its launch in 2009 the site has published over 1,300 articles showcasing well over 53,000 greetings & giftware products to the trade.  Reviewing the companies profiled over the years Charlotte found that approximately 95% of the businesses featured were keen to promote to consumers, as well as the trade. With this in mind, last year Charlotte experimented with a consumer-focused Christmas Gift Guide magazine. The response was overwhelming, over 1,000 companies applied and 200+ businesses were picked to be featured in the Gift Guide.

Adding up the statistics after the Christmas period Charlotte found that the Gift Guide magazine had been viewed by over a quarter of a million shoppers during the festive period. With demand for the Gift Guide from both sellers and consumers Charlotte decided to create a website version of the Gift Guide that could connect gift seekers with greetings card and gift businesses all year round… The Online Gift Guide was born!

Charlotte noted,  “Adding B2C sales as an income stream is a great way for gift businesses to grow. It gives them a way to see how the end consumer interacts with their product, while also ensuring they aren’t solely reliant on B2B trade for all of their sales.”

“Content marketing such as blogging is a powerful strategy for any business and I’m sad to see that it isn’t used more in our industry. I do understand however why it’s not widely used. Blogging and content creation takes a lot of time and knowledge, and most card & gift companies have far too much work to cope with to add more to their workload. With The Online Gift Guide I want to offer businesses who might not have time to run their own blog an option to join a community of contributors. Getting the benefit of a blog platform, without the time commitment of creating an entire blog on their own.”

Becoming a Contributor

Joining The Online Gift Guide as a contributor is simple and takes just a few minutes.


You can find out all the information you need on the website at –

Alternatively, you can email Charlotte at for more information.

About Card & Gift Network

Launched in 2009, Card & Gift Network is an online platform supporting and showcasing the greetings card and giftware industry. Comprising blog, trade directory and business hub, the website brings together designers, makers, retailers and suppliers from across the industry to explore a world of cards and gifts.

The site was founded by Charlotte Biggs. Charlotte worked in the greetings and giftware industry for six years, before moving into online marketing in 2009. For the last 9 years she has been helping card and gift businesses to promote themselves and sell more online.




Chat Windows 1

The Giftware Association has initiated a chat window on both its sites to engage with members and non-members alike. The chat function will answer members queries and non-members on questions about how membership can be effective in reaching their business goals.

The chat window will pop up automatically upon a visit to the website, allowing you to ask the operators any question you wish about membership. They are manned by actual humans rather than an AI bot and it will give us incredible insight into what sort of things are being asked through the website to get a better profile of our audience and to understand more about what people need to know or use our site for. If the site can’t answer your question then it will be forwarded to a member of the team.

Please go online and check it out to see if your question can be answered at or

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With two events left to go, the Giftware Association’s ‘Meet the Buyer’ season has got off to a cracking start with over 60 companies passing through our doors and showcasing their products and  meeting buyers from BOOTS, THE NATIONAL GALLERY, MOONPIG, F.HINDS, THE SHAKESPEARE BIRTHPLACE TRUST and independent Scottish gift shop BONKERS.

Preparations are underway for the final two events of the year with JOHN LEWIS and OCADO and NOTCUTTS and an exciting schedule to be released soon for next years events.

There has been a huge selection of products on show from all across the industry such as  children’s gifts, gift food and contemporary gifts from companies such as Ross and Ross, Shifa Aromas and Shrieking Violet, as well as many new companies that are just emerging into the home and giftware world, which The GA has been very proud to facilitate their first meeting with buyers.

Simone Rose, business development manager for the GA said “There has been a huge amount of interest in our events as we attract buyers from all across the retail spectrum. Boots was a huge draw and we have seen returning buyers from The National Gallery to view our members’ products and ranges. Feedback from those in attendance has been really positive, encouraging us to do more in the future. We want to be more targeted, and present curated specific events with focuses such as jewellery, greetings, stationery and home fragrance. We also dream of taking it around the country on a roadshow.”

Previously all the events have been held in Birmingham at the GA’s head office or The Button Factory. For 2019 The GA is looking to take the Meet the Buyer events to various cities around the UK.

I had two great meetings and a fabulous first-time experience for the meet the buyer events. Can’t wait for the next one! And please do keep me posted on upcoming events. Many thanks again for all your support, it is very much appreciatedSugarshed

For more information on future events how the Meet the Buyer event work then get in touch with one of the team. Alternatively, if you are a buyer and would like to meet new amazing products then get in touch as well and we can set up an event.

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