Designing the Perfect Packaging Solution for a Start-Up

Image via Studio of Christine Wisnieski

Starting a business is hard. Really hard. I can’t tell you the countless hours I’ve spent developing the concept behind Parse & Parcel. There are so many details and a ton of planning involved. And no matter how much you plan, things are always changing. The tough part is how to plan for change without knowing exactly how things will change. This is a problem every business faces, but it’s especially difficult when you’ve got a physical product and you’re trying to find the perfect packaging solution – and you’re a start-up.

When I started Parse & Parcel I faced all three of these challenges. Take the packaging design our flagship product, The Parcel. Every issue contains between 5 – 7 different print and paper samples. Not only does the number of items in each shipment vary, but the size, shape and content of these items vary as well. It kind of makes developing the perfect packaging solution a bit of a challenge.

I was lucky to be able to enlist the help of friend and designer, Christine Wisnieski. She’s the creative talent behind all of P&P’s brand identity and packaging design. We have worked on numerous print projects over the years and I trust her completely with our brand.


Shipping a physical product requires a certain amount of consistency and efficiency to be successful. So we needed a packaging solution that would be able to accommodate a wide range of sizes of the physical samples as well as handle shipping efficiently.

Not only that, but believe it or not, P&P is not much different from any other start-up, we had a limited budget. After all, we had no sales history when we created the packaging. So, employing a ton of fancy-dancy print techniques was not an option.

Then there’s our target market – graphic design professionals. Typical run-of-the-mill materials and template design was not gonna cut it. Details matter with this audience.

When you add it all up, the packaging design of The Parcel needed to be something that was not only functional and attractive, but also fit our start-up budget and be easily scalable. And that was a pretty tall order.


So how did we go about finding the perfect solution for a product with ever-changing contents? One word: samples

Because Christine understood Parse & Parcel’s brand and our audience, she instinctively knew what would work. She nailed the design for The Parcel almost immediately, although she presented three different design options. As a client, the process of deciding was made so much easier for me because my designer had all the tools for me to visualize the end result with.

I got to feel the blind emboss, see the color palette as it was used in a real-life packaging application. And once the design decision was made, I got a feel for the entire brand identity because my designers mocked up each item on the actual paper. One touch and I was hooked (that’s haptic design at work).

Even for me, a seasoned paper pro, having paper and print samples as part of the presentation made all the difference and in the end simplified the process (for both of us).


Designing the perfect packaging solution for start-ups

The design for The Parcel is a simple kraft shipper box, wrapped in a tactile blind embossed box sleeve (no ink) with a tip-in affixed to the top; it contains a curated collection of luxe paper, print and design samples meant to inspire and educate the design professional.

To date, the design Christine’s studio created for Parse & Parcel includes logo, stationery, The Parcel and The Swatch Box packaging, photo art direction, styling and web design. Even with all of this, I am pleased to say my budget stayed on course – and that’s including a few special details like the blind emboss, foil stamp and custom setup box. It is all about smart design, a few luxury details and perfectly executed production.

It’s been over two years since The Parcel launched, and as a client, I couldn’t be more thrilled. This past year was exciting for both P&P and Christine’s studio. Parse & Parcel won Best of Show at AIGA Design 730, and received The GDUSA American Packaging Design Award in the luxury packaging category.

For my designer, her business has grown from freelance to a multi-disciplinary design studio with a growing team and client roster most designers dream of. Her portfolio of work is a perfect example of how print can help a designer scale their business and get paid to do work they love.

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4 thoughts on “Designing the Perfect Packaging Solution for a Start-Up”

    • Thanks so much for the kind words. We used T & W converters for our tape – they were super easy to work with and it was a relatively quick turnaround. I’d also take a look at Lumi – their site and products look pretty nice.


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