When you are a creative business, custom packaging can be more than a way to wrap your products - it can be the product itself! Putting your designs and illustrations to (tissue) paper is an innovative way to increase the breadth of your product range. In this study, Charlotte Allen of Sleepy Bee Studio shows us how her four bespoke tissue paper designs also became an elegant gift-wrapping solution for her customers.

When you are a creative business, custom packaging can be more than a way to wrap your products - it can be the product itself! Putting your designs and illustrations to (tissue) paper is an innovative way to increase the breadth of your product range. In this study, Charlotte Allen of Sleepy Bee Studio shows us how her four bespoke tissue paper designs also became an elegant gift-wrapping solution for her customers.

(In Charlotte’s own words):

“I’ve always gravitated towards anything creative since I was little. I previously worked for 8 years with two luxury brands on the buying & product development side of things. I decided last July to finally take the plunge and set up my own creative studio from home, specializing in illustrated paper goods & gifts.”

“I started setting up Sleepy Bee Studio in October 2018 and officially started selling this year. The team consists of my husband Gav & myself (and our cat Mister Miaow - he likes to be involved in a sleep-on-the-desk-right-on-your-work kind of capacity!) I run the business and do the illustrations and product design. Gav is a graphic designer and so does the artwork set-up, manages print production and handles the technical side of things.”

The inspiration behind Sleepy Bee Studio

Charlotte has always had a passion for beautiful packaging and handwritten sentiments. For her, the time commitment that both practices involve represents a higher level of care and attention to detail than most modern communications. When the key criteria for most of our daily activities are convenience and speed, Sleepy Bee Studio’s range of custom printed tissue paper and stationery is a message for people to take the time out of their day to show their affection to those close to them:

“Looking on my Pinterest boards just now, I have so far got close to 2000 pins on packaging & stationery. Yes, it sounds like I have some sort of problem and I definitely need to spend less time on it. But in all honesty I just love it, and always have. I am definitely one of those people who will buy something that I don’t need because the way it’s been packaged is so beautiful! In addition, I’m so happy when I receive a handwritten letter - it shows someone has taken time out of their day to get in touch in a much more heartfelt way than a quick text.”

“My little mission is to get people to slow things down a touch, now that so much is instantly available. It would be hypocritical of me to tell people to shun technology, seeing as I use social media most days to promote my products. It’s about getting the balance right with technology whilst not losing the traditional way of writing. There is still a need for beautiful tactile correspondence that will be kept and cherished forever!”

Pro tip: The power of a handwritten note goes a long way within your order fulfillment too! Including a thank-you card within your online orders is a fantastic way to build a stronger rapport with your customer.

Designing four stationery collections

Illustrations for the Darwin custom tissue paper design

“I was born in Cambridge and still live there now, so it seemed right for it to be the inspiration for my first collection themes. There are so many beautiful and inspiring things that I was able to capture and illustrate, but decided to go with an initial collection of 4 themes named Cambridge, Darwin, Botanical & Stargazer.”

“Over a series of weeks, I put together all of the illustrations needed from doing several trips into town. For instance with all the Darwin illustrations, they were drawn from specimens on display at the Museum of Zoology (some of the beetle drawings are from specimens on display that Darwin himself collected!) Once they were scanned into the computer, Gav and I worked through different designs to then get printed such as notebooks, postcards, letter paper, & illustrated envelopes. Next on the list are fine art prints and greeting cards!”

“For the majority of the illustrations on the first four themes, I used the pointillism technique (with black ink rather than colour) by drawing hundreds of tiny dots to create each piece. This happened because with the clouds in Stargazer the solid lines I started using just didn’t look delicate enough. I changed it to a series of dots and it really suited the look, so I went with it for the remaining themes. Some of them took absolutely ages and whilst I’m happy with the effect, I do plan to introduce new styles with the new themes!”

Sleepy Bee Studio's 'Stargazer' stationery collection

When your own artwork is the product for sale, this opens up limitless possibilities for applying these designs to different mediums. With her love for beautiful packaging and being sustainable, eco friendly custom tissue paper printed with her own illustrations was a natural choice for Charlotte to add to her product range:

“I found noissue on Instagram and just thought it just looked amazing! I wasn’t even aware that soy ink could be used in printing. Once I’d read up on the process and materials on the website, I figured it’d be a great way to display and wrap everything. As I’m predominantly selling paper goods, I’m very conscious of the environmental impact. In terms of packaging I didn’t want to use any plastic, so I thought custom tissue paper be a lovely way to wrap the products, which I then pack into recycled envelopes or un-glued recyclable boxes. It was also important that I went with a UK-based FSC certified company for the print production, and that as much as possible was made in the UK.”

By creating four bespoke tissue paper designs inspired by each of her collections, Charlotte could provide her customers with extra-special gift wrapping for their own needs as well as premium packaging for her online orders. On her Etsy store they have the option of buying her custom tissue paper separately in a set of three sheets, or as a part of her larger stationery bundles. This two-fold packaging solution allows Charlotte to boost the customer experience her brand offers, whilst also adding a product which offers limitless opportunities to expand on.

For more on the virtues of offering gift-wrapping on your online store, check out our blog!

Turning Charlotte’s collections into bespoke tissue paper designs

Getting four custom tissue designs proofed, printed and shipped to the UK might seem like an ambitious undertaking, but noissue’s 3-week turnaround and low minimum order quantities her tissue paper printing made the process straightforward for Charlotte. With MOQs starting out at 250 sheets, this makes having multiple designs or seasonal-specific designs achievable for small businesses. In fact, Charlotte ultimately decided to add a fifth tissue design to her custom packaging portfolio!

Sleepy Bee studio white tissue paper design

Charlotte’s minimalist 5th custom packaging design - 17GSM white tissue paper with the Sleepy Bee Studio logo!

“My decision to go with noissue was due to the combination of their eco-friendly packaging, stunning design results, and the low MOQ. If we had gone with a UK competitor we would’ve had to order a minimum of 10 reams per design. This would have been way too much, and extremely expensive! Using noissue gave us the opportunity to offer 4 bespoke tissue paper designs rather than one. Though we did end up doing a fifth tissue paper which features the brand logo as a lovely packaging option for products that don’t necessarily fall under a particular theme, such as the handmade wax seal & calligraphy greeting cards. We hope to add more custom tissue designs in future themes such as Coastal, Jurassic, Afternoon Tea, Dreamcatcher… you name it, it’s probably on the list!”

For creatives who have re-existing designs that they want to customize tissue paper with, noissue’s offline design tool makes it easy to collaborate with our team to create the look you envision. Once you upload your design to our site, we will have a proof ready for you in 24 hours for approval!

“Everything was drawn by hand rather than on a computer, so when I first got in touch with noissue and they said that they would need to outline everything, we thought it wouldn’t be able to be done with as much detail as we hoped for. But the design team did a great job, and Gav and I were very happy with the results. The only one that we decided not to outline was Stargazer, as there were just too many dots to cope with! That one was done on the 17GSM paper in black ink, rather than the 21GSM colored tissue paper like the rest. It’s so delicate and pretty - Stargazer is actually the best-selling theme so far!”

Pro tip: noissue offers two weights for our custom tissue paper - 17GSM for a translucent, more delicate feel and 21GSM for a heavier finish. Check our product page for more details!

Sleepy Bee Studio Botanical custom tissue paper design
“I designed ‘Botanical’ first; there is the beautiful University Botanic Garden in Cambridge, which was founded in 1762 in the centre of the city and initially grew plants to be used for teaching medical students. It now houses over 8000 plants from all over the world, and was the perfect place to walk around and get a huge variety of flora & fauna.”

Sleepy Bee Studio Stargazer custom tissue paper design
“Then came ‘Stargazer’; I love astronomy and we have the Institute of Astronomy in Cambridge, where on clear nights you can use their telescope for stargazing. Plus I usually get stopped in my tracks when there’s a beautiful sky out, so this one was a collection of clouds, stars, galaxies & planets amongst other little whimsical designs I made up.”

Sleepy Bee Studio Darwin custom tissue paper design
“The inspiration for ‘Darwin’ as I mentioned, came from the Museum of Zoology specimens. This was actually my favourite theme to draw, so I’ll definitely be adding to the animal side of things for future themes!”

Sleepy Bee Studio Cambridge custom tissue paper design
“For ‘Cambridge,’ the design is made up of the city’s famous icons such as the colleges, bridges, punting along the river, and lots of other little details!”

For more custom tissue inspiration, check out our gallery!