These past few years of my business I’ve had the great opportunity to work with the most fabulous brands! With each conversation in the kickoff meeting, I can’t help but get overjoyed and excited to work together. The BEST part of my business is coming alongside people doing BIG things, following their passions, and creating a brand that they can’t wait to exist. So, I thought that these stories need to be shared. Yes, I publish the work in our portfolio, but you miss out on hearing the heart behind the brand and meeting these great folks! I’ve decided to start a series of “brand chats” with past Spruce Rd. clients to catch up and let them take the stage.
When I spoke to Mandi of Care Crates a year ago, I honestly left our meeting with excitement when her brand would launch. I was ready to pull out my credit card right there and purchase her products! Mandi created Care Crates as an avenue for people to gift curated packages to their family, friends or co-workers. I’ve personally purchased a handful as crates myself! Each crate has a unique theme — “apreci-crate,” “treat yo self,” and “comfort crate” to name a few. Whether your friend just delivered a baby, is undergoing chemo or just plain deserves a fun crate, Mandi’s got you covered.
I caught up with Mandi one year after we wrapped up her branding to check in on her first year in business. She’s cheerful, full of fun marketing tips to build hype around a product launch and has a refreshing approach to business — don’t take it too seriously!
Catch our conversation below! Seriously, you'll want to give this one a listen. Mandi is hilarious and shares some really great info. Buuut if you don't have the time (only 34 minutes, y'all!) I’ve also highlighted a few notes from our chat below. Also, stay tuned to the end of the post where you can help me out (and be entered into a giveaway for a $50 Amazon card!).
Tell us a bit about Care Crates.
Care Crates is run by me, and me alone. It's curated care packages. I curate them, I sell them, and then I put them together. I do care packages for the good and the bad. I send them out for all kinds of reasons! I feel like it was something I needed and I was hoping someone else out there was wondering like, "where is that thing?" and it turns out there was a lot of those people. That's the luckiest thing for me, my clients are the best.
Take us back to that first year. What were your biggest investments?
I spent years planning and thinking of all this stuff but as time went by I realized the thing that would make the biggest difference would be the branding. The brand is the most important part and I knew that branding would set me apart from others with the same business idea. Branding and website were where I decided to go big with, from the beginning.
Before we worked together on your cheerful branding, you had a pretty clear picture for your brand (that we were all on board with!). How did you achieve clarity in your brand before you even launched Care Crates? This is such a struggle for most businesses.
The nice thing about the company is it lends itself to a strong brand. I knew I wanted this to be a happy, cheerful brand and a happy company. I really feel like it was one of those things where, you know when you're a teenager and you write down your ideal man? It was like that. The ideal me would be all these things, and that's what Care Crates turned into. The brand was super easy to come from because the value was huge to me. It meant a ton to me and I had spent so long, I had like ten notebooks filled with everything. It was all just a cohesive brand so it was easy to build those roots from this tree.
How has your branding design made an impact for your business?
The reason I wanted to go big or go home with the branding was because this is something anyone can do. But for me, I knew the branding was going to be what set me apart. Talking it through helped me establish my personal brand too, not just the colors or things like that. It helped me realize that I want this to be a super happy, sunshine-y thing. When people get that bright yellow box it's an instant "this is Care Crates". I love that people get to open this up and see the bright yellow instantly. It's so exciting. I almost didn't do a box because of the price but I'm so glad we did, it's a big deal. That feeling of "someone loves me" when they open it... the branding has done that. I feel a lot less stressed about competition because my branding is so solid.
I LOVE the cheerful core to your brand, and it didn’t surprise me at all that you hosted such a fun launch party to kickstart Care Crates! Tell us a bit about that kickoff party, and how you spread the word for your grand opening.
When I got the idea for the kickoff party, it was more to thank everyone. I was on bedrest for weeks with my twins and they were in the NICU. It was a really hard time in our lives and I had so many people help me. I wasn't planning on it being this big advertising thing, it was more of "look how much good we're all doing because of this one little ripple". I invited anyone who had ever impacted me for good in my life. It was really just friends or neighbors, or even acquaintances who I had watched do these good things. They didn't know each other at first but I decided to do a service project when they came. Everyone would bring something and we would put together these kits for a school that has a huge refugee population. It brought everyone together instantly. It was a really fun night watching all these people who I love and admire mingling with each other. And then we had a treat yo' self table. It was a really fun night of thanking people. I was really scared about the party, it was not my style. But I've learned that to make other people feel comfortable you have to step out of your own skin.
You bring so much fun to your marketing, and come up with creative ideas. From Bae day to focus groups to get feedback for an upcoming crate. Any advice on how to balance the daily grind of business to having fun + getting creative with your marketing?
I just went to this big branding workshop and I came back with, if you have a solid brand, if you know it well enough you can go crazy. As long as you know it's all coming back to your base. Cookie Friday started in Ireland as a way to make friends. Then I started doing it on here and it's changed and turned into this fun way to share recipes. Bae Day started when I was coming out with a new crate called the Bae Crate. I needed a way to get people excited about it. I decided to share our (my husband and I's) old notes and letters. It made me so happy and was so fun to share with others. It was really embarrassing but it was fun.
What is an exciting thing coming up for Care Crates? We want to support you!
I have a million dream journals of this thing and I had a focus group in January. I normally bounce things off my sisters but I wanted to hear what other people are actually thinking so I invited them over. They came with so many ideas that I hadn't even thought of. The build-a-box was from them. Everyone has wanted that forever and I thought it was impossible but someone from that focus group gave me an idea. That focus group moment helped everything.
As far as big ideas on the horizon, we have the treat yourself subscription box that just barely launched. I'm super excited about those. I can't wait to print out the insert card. It's so cute and it's within the brand but me kind of figuring out how to dig a little deeper. I can't wait for that one to grow. It's sent every two months and I get to work with people I couldn't work with for the other crates. Everyone is getting macarons! The first idea I had was working with small local businesses and that's where I'm trying to keep going. Care Crates is about cheering people on but we're all cheering each other on as we make these.
You give the best feedback.
So, I’m doing something different and putting the ball in your court! I’ve got loads of ideas for products, classes and services, but I’d love have YOU vote on what you’d like to see from Spruce Rd. As a thank you for taking the time to give advice + complete the survey (seriously, you are so awesome!) I’m giving you a chance to win a $50 Amazon gift card. Buy a new business book, headphones, or a gift to treat yo’self.
Every vote counts, y’all ;).