Tell us about your business?
Custom Printed Bags & Boxes specialise in custom-making bags and boxes to almost any colour, size or design - to each client’s unique business packaging needs or event bag requirements.
We can cater to short runs (usually minimum 100), which is great for start-up businesses who don’t have the storage capacity to stock thousands of bags or boxes, or for conferences, seminars, parties, or events where there are only a small number of guests. We can also cater to larger orders, such as promotions, trade shows, training events or large businesses' packaging needs.
We work with businesses of all sizes to provide them with the perfect packaging solution for their business or special event.
Why did you start up your business?
I founded Custom Printed Bags & Boxes after starting a luxury fashion collection and finding it impossible to find a supplier that could offer to manufacture a small quantity of rigid apparel boxes to the exact size, colour and design I required, with my sleepwear company logo printed on the lid.
Coming from a marketing and branding background, I understood that the look and quality of product packaging is as important as the quality of the product itself - therefore flat pack boxes with a sticker of the logo on the lid (which was the only option at that time) was not the option I wanted for the luxury collection. Not only that, as a start-up, I did not have the funds nor the storage space to buy or store thousands of boxes, but found it impossible to find anyone that could cater to short runs either.
After several months of searching, I found an overseas manufacturer that could cater to every requirement, and could offer short runs! I decided to create Custom Printed Bags & Boxes, so other small business owners didn't go through the same frustrating nightmare.
Also, having worked in the promotions and events industries, I realised how good it would have been to have been able to order short runs of bags or boxes with targeted messages for smaller events or promos!
Now working with four manufacturers who specialise in different areas, Custom Printed Bags & Boxes can cater to almost any short run (or large order) packaging needs.
What are the major hurdles you experienced when starting your business?
Getting in contact with manufacturers, negotiating short runs then purchasing samples from several different manufacturers until I found a suitable manufacturer that could supply beautiful quality bags and boxes at a reasonable price and could do short runs! I poured a lot of money down the drain paying for samples that were not up to scratch – but I refused to give up until I found a manufacturer that could provide exactly what I wanted, because I was determined to make the sleepwear collection work. (However in an ironic twist the sleepwear collection is actually on hold whilst I concentrate on this packaging business!).
Within Australia it was impossible to get a business account with my current bank, even though I am a great, long term customer with no debts. I had to go to another banking institution which is a bit annoying and the fees are high, but they seem to be the only option. I also found it almost impossible to get insurance for my industry, as no one would cover what I thought needed to be covered. I just kept plodding away or thinking of alternatives until I could get what I needed.
What made you decide to take the jump and focus on your business?
I was working full time and working part time on my business. When I had saved up enough money to live on for several months with no income (if the worst came to the worst), and when I started to get too many customers and enquiries to be able to enjoy working full time and on my business, I handed in my resignation.
How did your family and friends react?
My parents were worried about me leaving my full time, comfortable job - because of the security of having a regular income, and because of the global financial crisis – no one knowing if the economy is going to get better or worse. I had some savings so I just thought that if my business doesn’t work, then I’ll go back to finding a full time job – so it wasn’t such a big deal to me.
My parents recently told me they’re proud of me – that was a surprise and I’m really glad that I’ve made them proud, and made them stop worrying!
My friends have been a huge support and are really happy for me. Some have commented how much happier I seem all the time. Unfortunately for them, now they have to hear stories about bags and boxes for hours on end when we meet up!
How has your life changed?
I love working on my own business – it’s far more satisfying than anything! I’m a much more confident, positive and happy person because I feel fully in control of my life and time. I enjoy getting up in the mornings and working. It’s like a hobby – I enjoy working at it, so I never get tired or bored of it. I also feel like I want to give more and help more all the time. So I have change d a lot for the better.
What is the vision for your business going forward?
I would love to take on full time staff to help me with the daily running of the business and the administration – which takes up most of the time – so that I have more time to read, and so I can focus on the finances and marketing and spend more time on strategic planning.
What tips can you give other SavvySME about motivating yourself to push through the challenges that rise up while building your start-up?
Join all the networking groups you can and go to meet ups regularly. Even if you never meet anyone that can help you in your industry, it’s important to go out and meet other business people and go to informational events for business. I pick some important information up each time.
- Remember the big picture right from the start before you lose something that’s important to you. For example, I’ve heard about business people losing their partner /wife / husband after spending too many hours working on their business and neglecting the needs of everyone else! It can be addictive and exciting starting up your own business– but think about what you want, what you are doing this for, and think about what you don’t sacrifice in life (like friends and family) in the pursuit of lots of money or security. For for me there’s no point in having financial security if I’m alone in the end. To me, friends and family are the most important things in my life. They make me happy above everything else, so even after a busy day or if I have a hundred things to do, I will always prioritise meeting with friends in the eve nings or weekends. I’ll take their calls and reply to emails. I try to never let anyone down.
- Don’t give up no matter how many hurdles you come across! There will be so many more than you could ever imagine! But you will get there!
- Don’t listen to advice from someone that has no idea what they’re talking about. A lot of people that had never been in business were telling me all sorts of reasons why going into business was a silly idea. I looked at their lives and thought I don’t want to be like them so why should I listen to their advice. I did listen and thought about what they were saying - in case there was anything in it, but I realised a lot of the time people were only giving me their own fears in the form of sounding like advice, so I didn’t take it.
- Never give up. It will be really really hard to get a supplier, banking assistance, insurance, and everything else! It might take over a year, but it will eventually pay off! Keep thinking of the big picture – what you want in your life. Think about how you want your future to look. If you don’t enjoy getting up really early, getting on a packed train to work in the mornings, working for someone else, getting paid a salary that you don’t think pays you enough for your daily sacrifice, then think about if you want to be doing that for the next decade. If you don’t, then make the change as soon as you can.
- Save up for a year or two. Sacrifice going on holidays, buying a new car, going out to dinner or buy ing expensive wines or food, buying entertainment that you don’t need…if you want to run your own business, and that is your life goal – you have to sacrifice for a better future!
I think you know deep down whether you’re an entrepreneur or not, and if you are, you’ll stop at nothing to get a business off t he ground in your lifetime – maybe your first business idea won’t work out, but you’ll find something that will. Even against family wishes. Even against all the hurdles, criticisms and negativity you will come up against, you’ll find a way if you really want it. It’s like there’s no other choice of a lifestyle for you.