Catherine Lakeland of The Parcel Project

I've just looked back through my emails and realised it is just over a year to the day that I first came across Catherine and The Parcel Project. I had found and followed her on Instagram and Catherine sent me an email to thank me for the follow and offer to help with any questions I might have. Talk about customer service that delights!

Catherine is someone I've been wanting to interview for a while. Apart from creating gorgeous gift hampers, she also has a beautiful purpose behind it.

"The idea for the project arose from the desire to do something to make a difference to people's lives, and the obvious realisation that receiving a gift makes people happy!"

With each sale, 10% of the profits go to beyondblue, an independent, not-for-profit organisation working to increase awareness and understanding of anxiety and depression in Australia while reducing the associated stigma. 

I think we all have experienced or know someone who has experienced horrible periods of poor mental health, so it's a special thing to see a start-up like The Parcel Project doing something to help.

Now, has anyone heard of Emma Kate Co? Possibly 'THE' queen of Instagram prettiness? Look here (then come back!). I often reference her Instagram account in my workshops as an example of someone who knows her 'look' and consistently nails it! Well, Emma Kate Co has curated a themed parcel filled with her favourite travel and lifestyle related treats in a limited edition especially for for The Parcel Project. 

Take a read to find out how this collaboration came about and some of the marketing dos and don'ts that Catherine has discovered along the way...

Why did you start The Parcel Project?

I had always wanted to create and build something for myself. Whether it turned into a full business or stayed more as a hobby, I just had to do something! I love gift wrapping, and receiving packages in the mail so it was easy to decide on what to create :)

You support beyondblue - tell us more about this connection?

Donating to a charity was always a part of the business philosophy. It was a non-negotiable. I didn’t want to build something without giving back in some way. Mental Health is so important and is so often overlooked by all of us when we consider our overall health. The more we talk about it the more it became apparent that many of my friends have struggled with or are currently struggling with depression. beyondblue do amazing work in the mental health field, and contributing a portion of our profits is just a small way we can help.

Tell us who is involved in The Parcel Project - what does your team look like? Perhaps it's just you!

At this stage, it is just me and some friends who I can recruit to help when things get a bit crazy!

What marketing have you tried that just hasn't worked all that well?

 Paid social media posts with social influencers. It’s one thing for people to like a pretty picture, but turning a like into a sale is not so easy.

And what about marketing that you find works really well for your brand?

Facebook advertising is an amazing tool. It is so easy to use, is very reasonably priced, and you see instant results!

Do you have any marketing tips you can share from your experience?

Growing a social media following is so important to getting your brand out there. With regards to Instagram posts, it’s important to not bombard your followers with too many uploads of your products, otherwise it will feel like they are following an ad! I find the best is to upload 20% your product, 80% fun, relevant to your brand and visually stimulating shots (but remember to always credit the user where you found the photo!).

I also find Instagram really an amazing tool during the creativity process. I use to see what people, especially Australian women aged 20-40 are getting into and sharing. It's a fantastic way to find new Australian products too!

You've just collaborated with Emma Kate Co. - wow! Tell us how this came about and what it means to both of your brands?

I am so thrilled with what Emma Kate Co. and The Parcel Project have put together. Our friendship actually began via Instagram! I just loved what she is all about, her products, her style, her lifestyle. She is what I imagined when I pictured my brand. I was looking for a collaboration to do a limited edition gift box and Emma and her brand fit perfectly.

What are some of the struggles you've experienced, or continue to, in running a start up?

Being director, gift wrapper, courier, accountant, receptionist, marketer, stock controller, website builder etc. does require a lot of energy, patience and drive! The day I can hire staff to do all these things will be one happy day :)

And what are your greatest rewards?

When happy customers post pictures of their gift boxes online! It’s one thing for me to love the product, but seeing others love it too is so rewarding :)

"Happiness is giving someone a gift"

Join my Facebook group to ask Catherine your own questions! 

Big, big thanks to Catherine for sharing this behind the scenes of her business. Keep up to date with Catherine via her websiteFacebook and Instagram and go ga-ga over the Emma Kate Co parcel and a few others below!

Credit: Emma Kate Co images taken by Emma Kate herself!