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Packaging FOLKLIFE for the First Time

In the beginning we posted a lot more about the little things in the day-to-day operations of FOLKLIFE. As everything is new and exciting, it is fun to share on the way. Thing is, the amount of stuff to share has become so much, that we’ve kind of stopped, which is a bit unfortunate because hearing how something is created, often no matter what it is and by who, is so interesting! So here we are sharing what it was like to package up all of these magazines for the first time. Readers beware: not for the faint of heart.

We did so much research on packaging, falling in love with beautiful compostable wrappings from around the world that we were so close to buying. But after further research, even compostable packaging has to be created from new materials and doesnt break down for 6-12 months, so we found the best way to go was with paper. Suited us, as that more fits our values and aesthetic. So from there, I did my usual, which was researching pretty packaging on Pinterest, harkening back to my little food business at the farmers market, where branding was my main joy. From there, we started ordering materials online. It all had to be done online, as it all took place during covid.

First: a big roll of kraft paper. Because we were going to wrap them! Thank goodness we opted not to, because wrapping 500 magazines would have taken our whole lives. Fortunately we can use that paper for stuffing orders, and for the other artists in the house.

Second, we ordered envelopes. But not the normal kind, as that would have been boring. These envelopes looked to be perfect for drop-offs when they arrived, but perhaps not for Canada Post because they have so many restrictions and we were worried that the thinness, or the air bubbles in it would through the Canada Post machines off. We decided this after about 250 had been labelled with some beautiful penmanship. Ah well. We then cut string, stuck stickers, wrote names, found greenery, and made/hand-delivered each Gabriola FOLKLIFE package. It was a lot, but it was all worth it when we started to hear back from all of the lovely subscribers.

So then we ordered a big box of regular kraft envelopes from Staples, and to our delight, FOLKLIFE fit snugly into the 9x11 ones, so there was no danger of damage. Yay! Unfortunately, they didn’t arrive on time. We needed to get the bulk mailing out right away by this time, and they just weren’t arriving!

During this time, we spent hours poring over the Canada Post guidelines for bulk Publications Mailing, which means they can go out for $2.5 each and not $5.90. I knew it’d look so easy looking back on it, but in the midst of it, it was so so hard. There were pages and pages of guidelines and I don't learn by reading, I learn by doing! So, after a million phone calls to them, we discovered the labels had to be printed, not handwritten. We discovered where exactly they all had to be placed by the mm, and how many mm’s of white space was needed. We discovered that all of you with long names or long addresses were annoying because of this (you know who you are). We discovered that you can’t have ‘unit’ or ‘#’ or anything like that in the address. We discovered that you need specific spaces in between addresses. We discovered what ‘indetias’ are, and that our local Canada Post wouldn’t give us the lettertainers we needed to hold them all, but that the one in Nanaimo would. We discovered that the mailing address should be bigger than the return address because the machine might choose to read the biggest one. We discovered that Gallery Press on Gabriola is way more affordable in printing labels than Print Three in Nanaimo. The mm mistake around the addresses cost us $70, and a lot of last minute stress. We discovered we need our own labeling machines for next time, and maybe just a fulfillment company too. One can dream.

We discovered that you can’t ship oversize machinable mail from anywhere but Richmond. We did the math on hand delivery and the benefit was still on the Richmond side, so we had to head there to do it. (Where we discovered that no one in Vancouver really cares about covid…haha). And we discovered that the courier won’t ship to Canada Post, so we had to do it ourselves.

We discovered what tired means, as we bought envelopes the day before they were to be sent (because the previously ordered ones didnt arrive), and spent the night putting three labels on each one. Writing a little note for the lovely FOLKLIFE supporters for each, and wishing they weren’t such an ugly/plain package. We also discovered our renewed sense of dislike of natural human error, forgetting a sticker here or 2 magazines there. Stupid spreadsheets. #theworst

And when we made the trip to Richmond, hoping that there would be no mistakes, we discovered that the people there are easygoing, and all seemed to be well. And we discovered the huge relief that was having those magazines sent off.


And finally, we discovered how cool it felt to be a business person who had to make the trip to Richmond for work. Hehe.

Any way, all of that figuring out has all passed, and now it is on to the next. <3 Cheers! ~ Alina Cerminara

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