HAVE YOU ENTERED GIFT OF THE YEAR YET?

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If not, then what are you waiting for? There are only four weeks left to enter the gift industry’s most prestigious competition. It doesn’t matter whether you are a new company or a veteran, a GA member or not; the only thing that the judges care about is good, imaginative, commercially appealing gift and homeware.

The Awards are the only competition that represents every corner of the home and gift industry with 20 categories covering Gift Food, Home Fragrance, Cards & Wrap and Fashion Jewellery. We have seen winners throughout the years with products such as DIY food kits, beautiful flower jewellery, build your own dinosaur kits and a 2-metre inflatable unicorn. Each of these winners has had their profiles elevated within the industry and wear the Gift of the Year badge with honour and pride and as a sign of quality to potential buyers.

The competition is judged by key industry figures from retail, trade press and buyers from across the spectrum of independent stores through to huge multinationals. Your product is guaranteed to be given the exposure it deserves and be seen by these stakeholders through the judging process, so if your product isn’t one of the lucky winners, it will have still have been judged by those that can make a difference, and who knows who the judges will get in touch with when the competition is over and they are looking for the year’s new lines?

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Now in its 41st year we aim to make this the biggest yet and receive entries from all across the industry.  You have until the 30th November to enter your fantastic products with the winners being announced at Spring Fair 2019, the biggest UK Trade Show, to an audience of your peers, buyers and retailers.

“I think it is worth entering even if you don’t win as your products are seen by the judges who have influence within the industry. If you do win, it really is a great opportunity to raise awareness of your brand, not to mention an opportunity to network and meet other people within the industry. I can say that I have actually made friends whether it’s the team at the Giftware Association, the judges, journalists and fellow winners.” Zakera, Peace and Blessings. Winner 2018.

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For more information about the competition, you can visit the website: www.giftoftheyear.co.uk, or you can contact the project manager at luke.palmer@ga-uk.org.

 

 

 

 

 

 

NEW SERVICE PROVIDER: DESIGN PIT

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

DP logo

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.

Experience

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

gareth@designpit.co.uk

01543 241 251

TW: @design_pit

IG: @designpituk

FB: /thedesignpit

LK: /in/garethrobertson-designpit/DP logo

HAVE YOU ENTERED GIFT OF THE YEAR YET?

SF-Awards-146

If not, then what are you waiting for? There are only four weeks left to enter the gift industry’s most prestigious competition. It doesn’t matter whether you are a new company or a veteran, a GA member or not; the only thing that the judges care about is good, imaginative, commercially appealing gift and homeware.

The Awards are the only competition that represents every corner of the home and gift industry with 20 categories covering Gift Food, Home Fragrance, Cards & Wrap and Fashion Jewellery. We have seen winners throughout the years with products such as DIY food kits, beautiful flower jewellery, build your own dinosaur kits and a 2-metre inflatable unicorn. Each of these winners has had their profiles elevated within the industry and wear the Gift of the Year badge with honour and pride and as a sign of quality to potential buyers.

The competition is judged by key industry figures from retail, trade press and buyers from across the spectrum of independent stores through to huge multinationals. Your product is guaranteed to be given the exposure it deserves and be seen by these stakeholders through the judging process, so if your product isn’t one of the lucky winners, it will have still have been judged by those that can make a difference, and who knows who the judges will get in touch with when the competition is over and they are looking for the year’s new lines?

SF-Awards-122

Now in its 41st year we aim to make this the biggest yet and receive entries from all across the industry.  You have until the 30th November to enter your fantastic products with the winners being announced at Spring Fair 2019, the biggest UK Trade Show, to an audience of your peers, buyers and retailers.

“I think it is worth entering even if you don’t win as your products are seen by the judges who have influence within the industry. If you do win, it really is a great opportunity to raise awareness of your brand, not to mention an opportunity to network and meet other people within the industry. I can say that I have actually made friends whether it’s the team at the Giftware Association, the judges, journalists and fellow winners.” Zakera, Peace and Blessings. Winner 2018.

Enter Button

For more information about the competition, you can visit the website: www.giftoftheyear.co.uk, or you can contact the project manager at luke.palmer@ga-uk.org.

 

 

 

 

 

 

HAVE YOU ENTERED GIFT OF THE YEAR YET?

Gift Of The Year Banner 1

If not, then what are you waiting for? The Awards are the only competition that represents every corner of the home and gift industry with 20 categories covering Gift Food, Home Fragrance, Cards & Wrap and Fashion Jewellery. We have seen winners throughout the years with products such as DIY food kits, beautiful flower jewellery, build your own dinosaur kits and a 2-metre inflatable unicorn. Each of these winners has had their profiles elevated within the industry and wear the Gift of the Year badge with honour and pride and as a sign of quality to potential buyers.

The competition is judged by key industry figures from retail, trade press and buyers from across the spectrum of independent stores through to huge multinationals. Your product is guaranteed to be given the exposure it deserves and be seen by these stakeholders through the judging process, so if your product isn’t one of the lucky winners, it will have still have been judged by those that can make a difference, and who knows who the judges will get in touch with when the competition is over and they are looking for the year’s new lines?

Now in its 41st year we aim to make this the biggest yet and receive entries from all across the industry.  You have until the 30th November to enter your fantastic products with the winners being announced at Spring Fair 2019, the biggest UK Trade Show, to an audience of your peers, buyers and retailers.

“I think it is worth entering even if you don’t win as your products are seen by the judges who have influence within the industry. If you do win, it really is a great opportunity to raise awareness of your brand, not to mention an opportunity to network and meet other people within the industry. I can say that I have actually made friends whether it’s the team at the Giftware Association, the judges, journalists and fellow winners.” Zakera, Peace and Blessing winner 2018.

 

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THE 3P’S OF CUTTING DOWN ON SINGLE-USE PLASTICS – PRODUCT, PACKAGING AND PERSONAL

A GUEST BLOG FROM GAYNOR AT BEST YEARS:

 

No one could have escaped the backlash against single-use plastics which has become a talking point both for businesses and consumers this year

Concern was initially kicked off by The Blue Planet but the issue has been picked up and consolidated by enough organisations that there will be very few people left who don’t accept that we all have a responsibility to reduce our use of single-use plastics.

Unfortunately, it can seem a daunting task to solve what seems like an overwhelming problem. Here at Best Years we obviously want to do our bit and in order to make it more of an accessible task have decided to break it down into three distinct areas, Product, Packaging and Personal

T rex teether

PRODUCT

The use of plastics in toys started during WW2 when metal became scarce and has increased over the years until the majority of mainstream toys are manufactured entirely or partly from plastics. Items made from wood, cotton, metal and natural rubber are better alternatives to plastic toys but they are usually more expensive. The use of plastic has brought down the cost and perceived value of toys and we have effectively been taught that toys are cheap. This will probably be the main problem in sourcing to a more sustainable product. However, if just the thought of trying to resource all your plastic toys into just as affordable alternatives makes you feel a little sick then our research has suggested that the trick is to look at the longevity of the products you are selling. A plastic ruler can be used for years, a 99p plastic toy could be discarded within the day. If everyone weeded out the worst 10% of their plastic toys then we would have made a huge step. We think that some of our toys make an excellent alternative to plastic toys.

Our handmade rubber toys are inexpensive, hard wearing and safe as well as being 100% safe. Our natural rubber dinosaurs are sometimes used as teethers because they use no harmful chemicals in their production. They are also bright and colourful so a great alternative to impulse purchase plastic and bath toys. Similarly, our crochet fruit and vegetables make a great alternative to plastic play foods and are just as robust. Crochet dolls are more expensive than plastic dolls but they bring the added bonus of being a lot more diverse in terms of diversity and play value.

During 2019 we will be expanding the number of toys in this range so we can offer a more comprehensive range of natural rubber/non-plastic toys.  Its been an interesting exercise to sit and think about the materials we use and why, and which toys we can put forward as practical alternatives to plastic toys. Hopefully, more new ranges will come out of the process as we follow the thread through feasibility and practicality studies.

princess and ballerina

PACKAGING

The expression Wrap Rage is the name given the frustration and fury resulting from the inability to open the packaging of a particular product and it has even been claimed that more than 60% of people have been injured while trying to open packaging. There is even an award “The Oyster Award” for the most difficult to open packaging and you’ll be pleased to know that it was a Barbie Doll which was the top performing toy (if you can call it that!) Obviously nobody set out to invent the most difficult and plastic riddled packaging but the marketing of toys meant that they needed to be visible on the shelf and any added features like lights or sounds needed to be easily accessible. Elaborately moulded clam shells provided the solution for shelf appeal and also made smaller products more visible and a lot harder to pinch by presenting them as bigger.

All this has meant that toy packaging is probably more of an issue that the toys themselves, but things are changing. In autumn Hasbro in partnership with Amazon launched frustration-free packaging for its Baby Alive toys and where these giants lead many other companies will follow.

All of our toys are individually packaged in poly bags, we don’t have boxes of clam shells or even any of those very irritating ties.  The question we asked ourselves was did they need to be individually wrapped or could they come in packs? Initially, the request for individually wrapped products was driven by internet retailers who needed to keep toys clean in a dusty warehouse and to be honest we have stopped thinking about it. We also have kimble hooks on some of our rattles, also at the request of customers way back in time.

It’s not a huge amount of packaging but given that every little helps we are looking at increasing packs so that we supply smaller products in packs of 4 or 6 and larger toys in 2s or 3s. Obviously, this is never as easy as it should be. We need to make changes in our ordering systems and website so that customers can only order incorrect multiples. We also need to consult with our major and long-term customers so that they can influence the way in which we move. Finally, we need to work out how to bring in the new pack sizes so they can be managed through our warehouse.
Suddenly our very small change becomes a much larger problem and we gained more sympathy for the larger toy suppliers who are faced with significantly more complicated issues. On the other hand, even this simple change means that we would be decreasing our use of single-use plastic in packaging by over 30% which would be fantastic.
We are also looking at bio-degradable plastic bags but as we sell toys we need to be careful that there are no issues there and we also need to ensure they don’t add to the product cost.

Doll baby boy
PERSONAL

In order to work out how much single-use plastic we used at work, we kept a daily diary, a bit like a food diary but without the guilt and subterfuge! To be clear this is not about our use at home but only those plastics which we use during work.

It came as no surprise that I was the main consumer. When travelling to see customers I buy tea, water and food. Although I try to remember to take my own cup I was still startled to realise exactly how many single-use cups I go through. There were also the salads and fruit I bought (mainly to stop me eating chips and cake!) all of which were in single-use packaging.

Given I accounted for over 90% of single-use plastic in the office the whole team are now combining their efforts to make sure that I plan my journeys properly. I should take fruit with me and a water bottle and flask –  I try to but I’m not always successful which is where the texts from Liz and Lisa help! It’s now a joint venture to ensure that Best Years use of single-use plastic is minimised as much as possible and that helps a lot.

There is no doubt that trying to reduce single-use plastics is a daunting task, but we think that by breaking it down into more accessible components we can achieve our target of a 10% reduction year by year.

To find out more about Best Years and their fantastic products, visit their website here

Natural Rubber Mammoth