Hi there! Ashley here. I’m one of the owners of Jenna Rae Cakes and am in charge of all of our packaging sourcing, creation and design here at Jenna Rae Cakes and it’s one of my favourite parts of the job! There’s something special about beautiful packaging. When you take your high-quality, delicious treats that you put your heart, soul, time and talent into, being able to place it into stunning packaging really is the cherry on top! We get a lot of questions from bakery owners about packaging, so we want to share our top tips with you.
Step 1 - Work with a Graphic Designer
I am a graphic designer by trade and am so thankful for my training. I realize that hiring a graphic designer is an added expense, but if you’re looking for something custom and unique, it truly is the way to go. A designer will work with you to build packaging, from scratch, that fully suits your needs and your brand. A custom touch in an industry as competitive as ours really does make a difference. My favourite packaging that I’ve designed (so far) is our range of Liquid Flavours. We started with our Liquid Cotton Candy, and we went through over a year of designing samples until the packaging was perfect. We’ll be releasing our full line in May and I can’t wait for everyone to see the whole collection together!
Step 2 - Know your needs
When it comes to packaging, knowing your specific needs and requirements for what you're looking for is key. For example, when we were looking for our most recent Hot Chocolate Bomb packaging, we knew we wanted packaging that would hold the Hot Chocolate Bomb secure so that we could ship them with less risk of them breaking in transit. We also know our cakes are a lot taller than normal so generic cake boxes from stores like Bulk Barn don't quite work. I designed a custom dieline that worked for the unusual size of our cakes, and worked with our supplier to test out different materials until we got it right. The result are stackable, sturdy cake boxes that are tall enough for all of our most popular designs and it has made transport so much easier! Take the time to really figure out what your specific packaging needs are from specific sizing, materials and even the quantities you'll go through on a regular basis so that you are best set up for the next steps!
Step 3 - Know your limitations
The sky can be the limit for packaging design, and I encourage you to think outside the box! But it is also good to understand that special treatments like foil, fancy paper and custom dielines can be very pricey, especially when working in smaller quantities. Temper expectations and know that there are always ways to make your packaging work on a budget! Creating a beautiful sticker or stamp is a common and easy way to jazz up otherwise simple packaging. Submit your ideas and quantity numbers to multiple suppliers and get multiple quotes — you’ll never regret having options! As long as you vet them first (see the next point).
Step 4 - Do your research
Once we know exactly what we need, it's time to research. I have spent countless hours researching packaging suppliers and talking with them to see if they’d be a good fit for the project. From inquiring about specific stocks, minimum order quantities to what supplier capabilities are, take your time to research and know that you'll probably spend more time than you think on this step. It's important not to rush this step. The more research you do, the better prepared you are to know what's out there and find a company that can meet your specific needs. No matter what you want, there IS a company out there who can do it for you—you just need to find them. We try and use local whenever possible, and one of our local print shops stores your extra packaging for you and ship you only what’s needed every few weeks which helps save on space and shipping costs.
Once you find a supplier that checks your boxes, ask for multiple samples of their past work. You don’t need to get a sample of your specific design at this stage (that comes later and typically comes with production fees). If you’re looking to have a tube box made, ask for samples that are similar in size and production to what you’re looking to get produced. Once you have that sample in your hands you'll get a better feel for the quality and craftsmanship of the packaging and you can test it out to see if it will actually works for you. Be prepared to pay for samples and know it's worth it to pay for samples along the journey of finding the perfect packaging.
While we are very often asked about where we get our packaging from, and although we’ve shared a list HERE in the past with some of our favourite packaging suppliers, we can't stress enough the importance of doing your own research and sourcing. We know how tempting it can be to think that sourcing packaging is as simple as asking “where did you get yours made?”, but as you can see from above, custom packaging that suits your brand doesn't come pre-made and it is a complex project that is tailored 100% to your needs. The time and effort you put into researching and creating your own packaging will be well worth it when you see all of your creations that you built from scratch in the hands of your happy customers.