Jesse Genet of Lumi Shares Three Practical Steps for Planning Your Packaging
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We often learn new things about ourselves while working on creative projects. Jesse Genet launched Lumi, a line of light-sensitive ink kits, over the course of two Kickstarter campaigns. In the process, she discovered that she loved solving the logistical puzzle of shipping things. So she shifted her company's focus to helping other creators design beautiful packaging for their projects. We asked Genet to share some tips on how to plan for packaging and shipping before you launch a Kickstarter campaign.
For many Kickstarter creators, packaging is an afterthought. With all the work that goes into creating your project and building an audience, it’s easy to arrive at that triumphant moment when you’re ready to ship and suddenly realize that you have a lot of unanswered questions. Will your rewards arrive safe and sound? Can you stick to your shipping budget? When your rewards land on doorsteps around the world, will the packaging reflect the creativity and excitement of the project itself?
My introduction to packaging came via the two Kickstarter campaigns I ran for my first product, an art supply kit called Inkodye. My first campaign in 2009 had 188 backers. I was in college at the time, and my homework suffered as I packed rewards at night. By the time I launched my 2012 campaign, I had added some collaborators to my team and felt far more prepared. We raised more than five times our funding goal and ended up with 3,525 backers. The success of the campaign was exciting — but behind the scenes, I was totally overwhelmed. We managed to produce all of our rewards on time, but quickly realized that we hadn’t properly planned our packaging and postage expenses.
I spent more than 25 percent of the $268,000 I raised during my second Kickstarter campaign on postage. That extra expense really hurt, and nearly emptied our bank account. With better planning, I could have cut my packaging and postage expenses in half.
My own packaging and shipping mistakes made me realize how hard this stuff is, and inspired me to launch Lumi.com in 2015. We want to make it easy for any creator to ship their rewards using beautiful packaging and an efficient supply chain. We also produce a weekly show on YouTube called Shipping Things — it’s our cheeky way of sharing tips, tricks, and techniques for shipping pretty and helping people understand packaging and logistics.
With Lumi, I’m building the company I needed when I ran my first Kickstarter campaign. And I made the three videos below with Kickstarter creators in mind. I hope they’ll help you avoid my expensive mistakes and encourage you to plan your packaging and shipping before you launch your campaign.
1. Make a packaging budget
How much should you budget for packaging? It’s a simple question, but the answer can be surprisingly complex.
2. Choose the right packaging
Now that you know your budget, how are you going to spend it? Treat your packaging as an extension of your project: use it to complement what you're shipping and engage your audience. (But don’t forget: your first priority is making sure your products will arrive in one piece.)
3. Plan for shipping costs
Don’t finalize your packaging until you know how much it will cost to ship. Shipping rates are complicated, and changing dimensions by even half an inch could save you thousands of dollars. You might need to crack open a spreadsheet to get this part right.
Putting your idea out into the world is a big deal. And how you (literally) deliver on that idea is pivotal to maintaining the excitement and momentum you built during your campaign. Packaging isn’t just about logistics — it can also be a way to keep telling the story of your creative project. With some careful planning, you can ship your rewards in safe packaging that looks great and makes your backers — and your budget — happy.