A Look Behind the Scenes of Brown Paper Gifts.
For this week’s industry interview we got a sneak peek behind the scenes of home and gift retailer extraordinaire Brown Paper Gifts. Owner and Director Nichola Harrison shared a unique look of the day-to-day workings and inspiration of this exciting new retailer.
With a strong sense of style and quality, as well as being great supporters of the ‘Made in Britain’ movement, Brown Paper Gifts is an independent worth watching.
Tell us a little about your company.
We are a online retailer of Contemporary Gifts and Design-led Home Accessories. In 2014, we started selling on eBay, one to generate extra income and two to see if we could create a working business around our plentiful family. Sales steadily increased and In early 2015 we opened our eBay shop Tied with String. One month later, we were given the opportunity by a friend, to launch our own e-commerce store and decided on the name Brown Paper Gifts. This fitting name was chosen, as all our products and gifts are hand wrapped in brown Kraft paper and tied with string. We want to provide our customers with an ultimate gift experience, so that our products can be sent directly as a gift to the chosen recipient.
What is your role in the business?
I take care of the all the day to day running of the business and what I love most about this work, is the huge amount of satisfaction when a customer loves your products. Receiving great feedback, you know you are doing something right and it makes it worthwhile. I work hard to ensure that all customer enquiries are responded to quickly and that orders are dispatched on time to avoid any inconvenience or annoyance.
Is there anyone else in the team? Tell us about them.
Michael my partner works with me sourcing new products, designers and collections. We have been together and worked together for about 10 years, he has a great eye for detail and loves unique design. We have four beautiful children and a fluffy dog to keep us busy.
What is a typical day like at your business?
So rising normally about 6am I check emails and orders and write a list of jobs that I need to get done for the day. Once I have taken the children to school, it’s then on the computer, returning emails, placing orders, looking at stock enquiries, updating the various sites. I like to update the shop daily with blogs, new images and arranging collections and adding stock items to keep it looking fresh, and then of course social sharing throughout the day. I then pack and ship all the orders in the afternoon before collecting the children from school. Then possibly back to work once the children are asleep, if I have not completed my list.
What makes your shop special?
Our shop has been created with lots of love, and we are very customer focused. We have worked hard to create a striking visual experience with great quality products at realistic prices. We aim to provide our customers with an ultimate gift experience from products to our nostalgic hand wrapped and hand stamped parcels.
Who are your customers?
Our customers vary far and wide, anyone seeking beautiful unique gifts or amazing home accessories, there is no cap.
What inspires the product lines you choose?
We take inspiration from trade shows, magazines upcoming trends and generally searching the net. We heavily support the Made in Britain campaign as we feel investing in British design not only puts money back into the economy but also supports the amazing wealth of designers and artists that this country has to offer. It is wonderful when you source new designers and their products are amazing, it gives purpose to gifts and retail. We also endorse Eco Fair and Ethical Trade products which are handmade by artisans and craftsmen around the world, these products are truly investment pieces with an amazing story to tell.
Why do you like this area of retail?
When we first started going to trade shows and connecting with the individual designers, you get a real sense and understanding of the products and the history and story behind them which you do not get from large wholesalers. This ultimately gives us a wonderful connection and love for the products we sell.
Tell us about your design style.
I like unusual designed items, taking an everyday object and turning it into something else is quite exciting. People have described my style as an eclectic; I do love to mix the new with old. I am really loving the industrial look which is so hot right now. The great thing about design it is ever changing and evolving, there is always something new to explore. We aim to convey this on the shop, we want to offer a mix of products that work well together in most settings, something a bit different, products you will fall in love with and want to have.
Who are your favourite card / gift designers? Why?
I have to say Heather Alstead is my favourite designer, her range is so beautiful and cleverly done. She has a wonderful collection of cards, prints and ceramics and has won awards for best gift of the year 2014. When I placed the very first order and it arrived I literally welled up, I was totally blown away by the sheer quality and design and of course they are all made and designed in Britain.
Are there any other retailers that you admire?
I love Jam Jar Lights they have taken a traditional kilner jars and turned them into unique lights. They are an independent Birmingham based retailer and have created a credible brand for themselves and also have an amazing store.
What is your personal favourite product in your shop?
My favourite product right now is the Swani Stars from Nkuku they are so beautiful.
What are the most popular products in your current range?
Our most popular products are the Heather Alstead and Coulson Macleod prints as they work so well as gifts for all ages in any setting, and of course they are made and designed in Britain.
Do trends influence the products that you purchase?
Trends certainly do influence our buying decisions, but we like it if it has a uniqueness about it.
Can you tell us about the new products you are sourcing?
When sourcing new products now, we are really looking to invest in British manufacture or items that are handmade by artisans and that will provide real quality to our customers.
What do you have planned for the future?
We are looking to work with Shed Inc and introduce a fabric and wallpaper range to add to our collection and also feature some new lighting.
What would you like to do next with the business?
We are looking into creating our own product lines, and to provide a collection of repurposed and recycled homeware. My focus is to get the online shop out there, and then look at a brick and mortar store for the future.
Thank you Nichola!
Now you’ve read the interview take a look at the business first hand. Visit the Brown Paper Gifts website now.