How I Landed My Products In The Winter 2022 Jilly Box!
Am I Dreaming? Someone Pinch Me!
How It All Started
When I started NemyLu and began designing our reusable gift boxes, I knew in my heart that this product would be perfect as a custom designed piece for The Jilly Box! With the ability to customize our gift boxes and ribbons, I started dreaming about the ways that Jillian Harris might design her own NemyLu. But first, I needed her attention!
I began my journey at The Jilly Box like most small businesses that came before me, I applied! I was not "Discovered", nor do I have a relationship with Jillian Harris or someone on her team. I simply applied online, using their online form. I applied the same month that I launched my business NemyLu (October 2021). This was extremely ambitious of me since I had literally just started selling my reusable gift boxes! But I believed in the design, quality and purpose of my products so I went for it!
I did not hear anything back for one whole month, so I applied again. Still, I heard nothing.
Almost 2 months after my initial submission I got an email back, from Tyler Evans herself! For those of you unfamiliar with The Jilly Box, Tyler is Jillian Harris's Agent and Co Founder of The Jilly Box. Needless to say, I was beyond excited to hear from her! She saw my application and reached out to me personally! She asked all the right questions about the launch of NemyLu, and the gift boxes I design. I will forever be grateful to Tyler for seeing the potential of my products, and for giving me and my brand new business a chance. Thank you for trusting in me Tyler!
From this point, it was another 2-3 months of discussion before heading into the sampling phase.
Choosing Fabric Colours & Ribbons
Ok guys, this is the fun part!
Jillian Harris wanted to design her own custom NemyLu gift box for The Jilly Box, so we started with her colour selections! NemyLu gift boxes have an outer material made from 100% cotton canvas, and this canvas can be customized to any colour, pattern or printed logo design.
Jillian and her team had a few choice colour selections known as Pantones, that I had my supplier sample for them. Generally, a fabric supplier will try to match the exact Pantone colour on a piece of cotton so that you can envision how this colour will translate to the fabric. We also provided dozens of ribbon sample books!
Once the Pantone sample swatches arrived I compared them with the original colour codes, agonizing over their accuracy. Did the samples match the exact Pantone colours that Jillian selected? Were the ribbons dyed the right shade of pink? It was an exciting time, but also very nerve wracking! This was my chance to prove my product, to make it or break it. I knew that colour choices could be changed if needed, but we were up against a very tight timeline and the sampling process takes about 2 weeks (plus shipping). Another sample would have put us behind schedule, enough so that I may not have made it in The Jilly Box at all! Nail biting anxiety for a small business owner, believe me!
From the swatch samples, Jillian chose a lovely soft pink for the main box colour, and a matching taffeta ribbon to create a production sample with.
The Sampling Process
Now that we have colour selections for the outer box fabric and ribbons, we need to see them come to life!
From this point, I worked very closely with my manufacturer to produce what's known as a "production sample". We focused on every detail of the gift box design, packaging design, and the quality and accuracy of the materials selected by Jillian Harris for The Jilly Box. This was especially hard to do, because all inspections were done over video chats...sometimes as late as 1am. But it was so exciting! I definitely drank my fair share of strong coffee those next mornings though.
After receiving the production sample, Jillian and her team ultimately decided to go with another colour of fabric (it's ok! This is why we sample first), which we didn't need to re sample (phew!) And I must say, the end product is perfect. Jillian and her team know what they're doing!
The Manufacturing Process
When sourcing a manufacturer for NemyLu, I was very hopeful that I would be able to manufacture my products in Canada or across the boarder with our friendly neighbours to the South.
Unfortunately, my kind of product is not one that is readily produced in Canada or throughout North America. This is for multiple reasons, one being that home goods or specialty home products are not manufactured in bulk production (not that I could find anyway!) and my search eventually led me to a manufacturer in China.
It was difficult to find a manufacturer in China who understood my goal of manufacturing an item with natural materials and no plastic packaging! It felt like I was asking them to reinvent the wheel, and it was frustrating to say the least. Most manufacturers I spoke with strongly encouraged me to abandon my plan to use cotton canvas in favour of woven polyester, and plastic inserts for the box structure rather than recycled paperboard.
Luckily, I found an amazing manufacturer who understood my wishes and worked with me to accomplish them! When I brought them the designs for The Jilly Box, they understood immediately the vision for the box and helped me bring it to life.
Since NemyLu is produced overseas, my Account Manager Miko (who is beyond amazing and whom I can't praise highly enough) and I, would begin communicating around 8pm until well after midnight each night (got to love that time difference between Canada and China!) She was as excited as I was about this business opportunity, and having worked so closely with her the past year made me feel grateful to have her as a partner on my side.
Running a business by myself (yup, it's just me) can be lonely at times, and being able to rely on anyone who works alongside me (whether that's my manufacturer, graphic designer, tech support, co packager, online marketing consultant, etc) really helps lend confidence and support to my ultimate end goals. It's ok to bring these people into your confidence and lean on them a little, because they likely want to see you succeed as much as you do!
Note To All Aspiring Entrepreneurs:
Stick to your convictions! If you have a specific vision for your business or product, don't let someone convince you otherwise. You won't feel fully confident in your business unless it resinates with your values from start to finish. I'm not saying you shouldn't be open to suggestions, but if someone is trying to convince you to lower your quality or cheapen your model (whether that's in materials, ingredients or level of service) stick to your own plan! You'll be proud you did.
The Final Product
Well, we did it!
Even though Jillian and her team did not choose the colours from their original production sample, their final product turned out better than ever! Jillian Harris lives and breathes her brand, and knew exactly the kind of gift box she wanted to present to her Subscribers & Insiders: A sustainable, reusable alternative to wrapping paper and plastic gift bags, in her signature colours!
I think the final product turned out beautifully. Congrats Jillian Harris and her team on an awesome collaboration! I am so thrilled to have been selected for this opportunity, and to showcase NemyLu products in The Winter 2022 Jilly Box.
If you are not one of the lucky people to win a Jilly Box this season, please visit our store to start your own collection of reusable gift boxes today! We have a great selection of Holiday boxes, perfect to wrap gifts in this Holiday season and every season thereafter. And if you did manage to snag a NemyLu add-on and want to explore more NemyLu reusable gift boxes, this custom design works beautifully with the rest of our collection!
If you're a dreamer like me and want to submit an application to The Jilly Box, go for it! Good luck!
To Shop our NEW Holiday Boxes & SALE Items visit our store today!
Thank you for taking the time to read my story! I truly hope your business dreams come true one day, just like mine did.
Founder, NemyLu Giftware Inc.