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Boxes with a past, and a future!

Boxes with a past, and a future!

The subtle fragrance of lavender is what you first notice. Then you gently pull out the crumpled golden tissue paper to reveal what lies below. Orange flower petals fall out, but you are too excited to brush them off the table. Because you’ve been waiting in eager anticipation for this moment. Along with the hand-written note saying thank you and the branded cardboard box, all the extras that go into the packaging of your online order are now defined as the ‘unboxing experience’. 

No matter how big or small you are as a brand, you cannot afford to ignore this key aspect of your business that touches and excites your customer in the most tangible way. From bloggers that share images of outstanding and memorable packaging, to folks posting YouTube videos about online orders that leave them saying ‘wow’, packaging and delivering of products can no longer be ordinary if brands wish to be noticed.

But in the enthusiasm to stand apart here’s the part most miss: for each package, retailers and delivery companies could use up to seven types of packaging material including paper waybills, envelopes, cartons, plastic bags, woven bags, tape and buffer materials like bubble wrap. And when we are done with unboxing our order, nearly all our packaging ends up in the trash.

Optimizing packaging for ecommerce may look quite different than design for traditional retail, due to the different demands of the respective distribution chains, says an Ameripen free whitepaper on Optimizing Packaging for an E-commerce World, published in January 2017. According to a study by Stanford University, we discard our own weight in packaging every 30-40 days, on average. Having recognised the role e-commerce plays in adding to waste generation, Zara now uses boxes with a past, where they deliver 56% of their online orders that are made in cartons that have been used 5 times before being recycled into cardboard.   

As sustainable brand that is now part of the digital b(r)andwagon, we too have been thinking about our packaging and the experience we want to offer our customers.  Do our customers expect the bells and whistles or are they willing to accept their handmade goods in a simple and reusable cloth bag, the more environmentally-friendly option? Should our packaging align with our philosophy of sustainability? And if yes, to what extent? Or should it be all about look and feel?

As we continue to explore an unboxing experience that we are comfortable with and excited about, we hope that our decisions make not just our customers but also our planet happy.

Text: Kanak Hirani Nautiyal 

It's HANDMADE!

It's HANDMADE!

Ever wondered what it means when a label reads “Made by hand” or “Handcrafted”? When we are at fairs, networking events or talking to customers about our textiles, we often get asked – “It’s handmade? Entirely made by hand – how is that possible”?

We realized that though we all love to read labels saying that a product is handmade, unique or one of its kind, however, we might not entirely understand the workmanship that goes into making an entirely handmade Scarf, Shawl or a Cape!

My first-hand experience of this complex journey happened in 2013, when I took one of the most significant trips of my life. I never imagined that one trip could change my life, but it did. From doing a 9-5 job to founding a company, I promised myself to do all it takes to make it work, after my visit to the mighty Himalayas.

Kanak (my business partner) and I had gone there to meet our weavers, spinners, dyers, people involved in the silk rearing project -- basically everyone contributing to our business. We had promised ourselves to meet each and every person responsible for making our Karigar products.

Our journey began at the weaving center where we met young, skillful and beautiful weavers – some were married with kids, some were single and looking for a life partner, one of the weaver’s had lost her husband to fighting on the border, and another’s husband left the family in search for a better life in the city. What united all these women was their skill and love for their work. They happily and proudly took us through the processes within that center – setting up the warp, spinning, and finally weaving. Phew!! 

We were already overwhelmed by just glancing through the different steps, when we were reminded that there was much more to see! Our next stop was Badeth, a small village focusing entirely on silk rearing. What an experience it was looking into this world: It still feels like yesterday that we saw how an entire eco-system was built around this process – hundreds of people responsible for taking care of the silk worms, feeding them, controlling the temperature and hygiene, and much more. But the best part was seeing the village women, who have for years sweated it out in the farms, sitting confidently behind small spinning machines (given to them by the government). With these machines, they spin yarn by hand from the silk cocoons, while at the same time take care of their home, family and children. This sight moved me the most. And it is what I called true empowerment!

Next stop? The dyeing unit. Apart from the fact that it had the most breathtaking view of the gigantic mountains, I could not believe the joy that seeing so many colors could bring. I absorbed and understood the complex process of how the yarns are dyed, how one could use grass to bring the most beautiful and fresh color on to the yarns and learnt that nature also plays a key role in getting that almost perfect color.

Though there is much more involved in making each product look the way it does when you, our customer receives it, we have tried to share some of the main steps in the process of making a Karigar Scarf, Shawl or a Cape

We learnt a fact that still amazes us: it takes at least 14 artisans to make one Karigar product! So isn’t it wonderful that when you buy our products you support not one, not two, but many more artisans to earn a livelihood?

We are proud to share the stories of our products and the capable people who created them. See the entire process, the artisan names, their pictures and more by just scanning the hangtag or Talking Tag that comes with each product. Come, be part of our journey. 

Text: Sindhu Holla
Photos: Marloes van Doorn

Natural and timeless

Natural and timeless

She’s stylish. She’s smart. She’s silver.

And her name is Jeanine de Groot. To be honest, we never asked her how old she is. Because her age didn’t really matter. We just loved how she carried herself and effortlessly oozed confidence. It made us (silently) sigh and say, “I want to age this way”.

When we first spotted her, we had already been looking for a more mature model for our first attempt at visual branding. Why a mature model with silver hair, you may ask? To us ageing gracefully signified a choice. It hinted at timelessness. And just like we want to offer people a choice with our sustainable, handcrafted wraps, we thought a graceful, older model could show that you can choose to be natural and age with beauty and style.

World over, the fashion industry has slowly but surely been embracing the silver shopper in its marketing and communication. Just this week, 73-year-old Lauren Hutton was shown as one of Calvin Klein’s underwear models for their upcoming Spring Summer collection. Last year, 60-year-old Gillean McLeod modelled swimwear for H&M and this year 63-year-old Lyn Slater became the face for Mango’s ‘A story of uniqueness’ campaign. Slater, started her blog/magazine Accidental Icon for, “Women (like me) who are not famous or celebrities but are smart, creative, fashion forward, fit, thoughtful, engaged, related and most importantly clear and comfortable with who they are.” And her definition of real women is something we at Karigar identify with. 

With modelling agencies that only sign up people older than 45, and age no longer being a barrier to enter America’s Next Top Model Fashion, world over how old you are is becoming something to be flaunted! Fashion icon Iris Apfel summed it up perfectly: “I don’t see anything so wrong with a wrinkle. It’s kind of a badge of courage.”

Text: Kanak Hirani Nautiyal
Photo Credit: Karen Kikkert

This blog was first published on Huffington Post.