As a designer, Miriam Brafman initially considered starting a design business, or perhaps an e-commerce site. But when she looked for a vendor who could provide customized shipping boxes for sending out future products, she came up empty-handed — save for a new business idea. “Everyone has packaging,” she says, and it seemed “so obvious” to her that a customized shipping-box service would already exist. But it did not, which is how she came to be the founder of Packlane, a Berkeley, Calif., company whose website lets brands of all sizes design and order personalized shipping and mailer boxes, as well as folding cartons.
The company opened in early 2015, but, already, she and her team of 25 employees cater to roughly 11,000 business customers — some of them big names like Google, L’Oreal and Shopify. –
She believed, along with scores of her clients, that customized packaging plays a key role in “creating a brand experience.”
When Brafman first launched Packlane, she was flying solo and orders were slow in coming, she says. So she kept costs low by designing Packlane’s website and user interface herself — building features like live previews of boxes or cartons and instant quotes on orders — and working with suppliers who would accommodate delayed payments. Every dollar she earned went back into the company.
But word of mouth helped Packlane build momentum, and within 6 months Brafman needed to hire her first employee to help deal with the influx of customers. As the company’s star rose, profits and growth accelerated. To scale up to handle the expansion, she recently brought on an entire executive team to take care of design, sales and branding. –
As Packlane grows, she plans to offer even more customization and product options, while continually improving her site’s user interface. Brafman says every innovation implemented will be in service to her primary goal to “become the market leader for short-run packaging.”
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