Sophie Callahan Equine photographerAs anyone who regularly reads this blog or follows me on social media will know, I’m a big Sophie Callahan fan… for so many reasons, but this blog just focuses on one of the many things I love about Sophie’s business, Sophie Callahan Photography, and what she does.. you might call it packaging or customer experience. I believe packaging is part of the customer experience. Here’s a bit about Sophie’s branding, her packaging and a recap about her commercial and portrait equine photography business.

Tell us a bit about your brand, Sophie Callahan Photography, and what you do

I am an equine photographer and I photograph the relationship between horses and their humans all over the UK and then package up their memories in tangible form. Whether that be in the shape of a canvas, a USB, or simple prints.

Let’s start with your branding – how did you decide on your logo, the colours and your branding overall?

My logo was actually knocked up within seconds, as a temporary fix, when I very first started and wanted to get some photos online as quickly as possible. It was never meant to be permanent, but it’s actually one of the things people love about my brand. I’ve had so many comments about how recognisable it is and I’ve even had people say they can’t wait to see their images with ‘the blue and pink Sophie Callahan Photography’ on them. So light blue and light pink feature heavily in my branding, as does white as I want to make everything quite feminine and ‘dreamy’. 

How did you decide on your packaging? What elements did you consider?

sophie callahan packagingWhen I was deciding on my packaging, I wanted to go for a look that brought the femininity of my brand and the earthy, natural side of horses together. My prints come in brown, natural kraft boxes and my USB sticks come in bespoke wooden boxes, with the client’s favourite image printed onto the wooden front. I then use branded stickers to add my logo and my USB sticks and CDs also have my logo printed onto them. I’m a big fan of hand-written notes, so I include a thank you card in every package, with a little hand-written message on.

What kind of response have you received to your packaging?

Since improving my packaging, I have seen a huge increase in the number of people who post pictures of their parcels onto social media. This is great advertising for me and often results in enquiries from new potential customers. I get a lot of messages and emails thanking me and commenting on how beautiful the parcel was.

Do you think packaging adds to a product and the customer experience? Was this something you factored into your product quite early on or something that has evolved over time?

Absolutely! I think when you are offering a high-end product or service, the packaging needs to reflect this. My packaging has definitely evolved over time and I still tweak it or try new things every now and then. As somebody who loves packaging, it’s fun to try out new ideas and take the time to make your work look pretty. When I first started, I wasn’t charging the prices I am charging now, so spending money on beautiful packaging just wouldn’t have been an option. But as my prices have increased, the value I offer my clients must increase too and my products must reflect the investment they are making.

Are there any other brands who have packaging that inspires you? Or that you think is done really well?

Sophie Callahan PackagingI am big candle fanatic, so I always love receiving White Company and Jo Malone parcels, for birthdays and Christmas, and they always beautifully presented. I also really love make-up and the Charlotte Tilbury burgundy and rose gold packaging is the stuff of my dreams! And lastly, I’m a brand ambassador for Hiho Silver, so I receive a lot of their beautiful jewellery through the post and I have their boxes stacked up on my vanity unit, because I just can’t throw them away. My other half is constantly complaining about the amount of empty bags and boxes I hoard, but how are you supposed to throw away something so pretty?

Where can we find you online?






Emma WarrenEmma Warren is a lady you’ll hear me talk about a fair amount. She kindly provided a testimonial for my site a little while ago, but she’s best known as ‘Queen Bee’ at Hiho Silver. Well, I say best known, it depends on when you first encountered her! If you’ve been lucky enough to visit the luxury glamping shepherd’s hut Dimpsey, you’ll know her from there, or if you’ve met her British creamware brand Doris & Co you might know her from there… and if you came to the Farm Innovations Show she was a speaker on the Canopy and Stars panel too! She’s a lady of many talents. Here she tells us a bit more…

Tell us about you and your background?

Hi there, I’m Emma and I’m based on a small Blackdown Hills Farm in Somerset with my hubby and two boys.  I originally trained as a Management Accountant and worked in manufacturing, ending up as a Finance & Operations Director.  I left and started my own business in 2008, helping entrepreneurial businesses to grow.  Through that I met some really great companies and now am an owner of Hiho Silver and Doris & Co and run a small glamping business called Dimpsey Glamping.


Inside Emma’s luxury glamping shepherd’s hut, Dimpsey

What made you want to start a business?

I generally worked in small divisions of very large companies – I really enjoyed the energy and vibrancy of them and the fact that I had the opportunity to learn lots about the whole business.  However, once I’d had children the long hours I was working made me think it was time for a change.  I’d had a hankering to work for myself for a while and decided to it was time to give it a go.  I still work really long hours, but I can be flexible and fit other things in as well.

How is your business different?

Oh tough question, because I think we all like to think we’re different from the competition – but I can say hand on heart that customer needs are always at the heart of everything we do.

What makes your products special?

The fact that we are passionate about what we do and I’d hope that shines through whenever someone deals with us – we love our products and we love to share that with people.  We work with our customers to see what they are wanting from us – and then we work really hard to deliver that in a consistent and on-brand way.

If you had to sum up your business in five words, what would they be?

Quirky, country, customer-led, trust, quality

Do you have a motto or ethos?

Only work with people you like!

Hiho Silver Cherry Roller

Hiho’s Cherry Roller, photographed by Jake Eastham

If you could give one piece of advice to an aspiring business owner, what would it be?

Just do it – it’s never as bad as you imagine it to be…

One thing that helps you run your business more effectively 

I would be absolutely lost without my iPhone and calendar

Best thing about running a business?

Having an idea and making it happen and then seeing if it goes down well with customers.  It’s such a great privilege to be able to have such a close connection between rudder and boat (so to speak)

Worst thing about running a business?

The unpredictability and the need to always be on your toes!

Top business blog you follow

I am a big Seth Godin fan and I also really like to read posts 

Top business book you’ve read

Purple Cow – Seth Godin – I could have chosen lots of books here but I really think Seth makes a lot of good points in this book.

One thing we might not know about you

I absolutely love singing!

Top business achievement

Hiho – launching the cherry roller and the Country Shows Journal – I love working on that with Rhea

Doris & Co Stern Stuff Mug

and Nathalie on the CSJ and the whole of the Hiho team have been involved with the cherry roller and its development.

Dimpsey – winning Gold in the Somerset Tourism Awards

Doris – securing the business

Where can people follow you or your business online?


Instagram –

Twitter –


Doris & Co

Instagram –

Twitter –

Facebook –



Twitter –


Leroy & BongoWe all know that I have a bit of a thing for packaging. OK. It’s a bit more than a thing. I see the power it has and how it can elevate a product and a brand or fall wide of the mark and make people believe that whatever is inside the packaging is distinctly average. In a new occasional series, I’ll be speaking to people who create packaging that (I feel) hits the nail on the head. And here’s the first. Caroline from Leroy & Bongo had a chat with me about her packaging and how she feels it makes a difference to this fun, dynamic brand. I’d love to hear what you think…

Tell us a bit about Leroy & Bongo and what you do

Leroy and Bongo is a new British brand,  founded by a little team of equestrians and designers in Marlborough, Wiltshire.  Together we love creating useful and beautiful equestrian stationery and lifestyle products!

Let’s start with your branding – how did you decide on your logo, the colours and your branding overall?

Our aim with our logo was to create something contemporary, clearly equestrian and proudly British. We wanted to keep it simple, easily recognisable and flexible enough to work across lots of different applications. Our logo is used in a number of colour-ways  depending on the application. 

We wanted our brand colour palette to be fun and eye-catching, as well as appealing to a wide demographic across the horse-loving world.

How did you decide on your packaging? What elements did you consider?

Right from the beginning we wanted our packaging to be fun and appealing to our customers, as well as unique to Leroy and Bongo. It also needed to be flexible enough to be used across our product range and “different” enough to stand out in a retail environment.

Leroy & BongoQuality was also important, as we wanted the packaging to reflect the quality of the product inside.

The end result is (we hope!)  like our products – useful and functional, but lovely to look at too! All of our product packaging features a paper “band” with a description of the product and our little black acrylic mini-pony.

The mini-pony has also featured in social media campaigns, which has really helped with customer engagement and brand recognition.

We also include a personal note to our customers when they buy from our website – handwritten on a Leroy and Bongo correspondence card.

What kind of response have you received to your packaging?

We’ve had a wonderful response to our packaging and the mini-pony already has a following of his own! Customers send in their own photos of the mini-pony in various situations, which is absolutely delightful. It’s lovely to have that level of engagement with our customers.

Do you think packaging adds to a product and the customer experience? Was this something you factored into your product quite early on or something that has evolved over time?

We like to think that packaging really adds to the customer experience. It makes the purchasing and gifting experience a little more fun – something that was definitely in our minds from the outset. If a product is beautifully packaged, it’s going to feel like a treat – either for yourself or the person you are gifting it to.

Are there any other brands who have packaging that inspires you? Or that you think is done really well?

Leroy & BongoWe love anything that’s simple, functional and beautifully designed!

Anything else you’d like to add?

For us, packaging is an important part of the Leroy and Bongo brand identity. But most of all, we hope our mini-pony makes our customers smile! 

Where can we find you online?

You can find us at 

HanroseI’ve been an admirer of Hanrose for a little while now, so you can imagine my delight when Johanna at Hanrose was happy to talk to me about the packaging of her beautiful candles and photoart. I think packaging is so interesting and adds such a lot to the overall experience, and as companies like Hanrose prove, it’s the little details that make it special. **Spoiler alert – a video review will also be available soon**

Tell us a bit about your brand and what you do…

Hanrose was created simply from a Christmas gift I wanted to make for someone! The photographic letter idea is not a new concept, but nobody does else does it; well not in the UK anyhow! 

The Christmas decorations were rather special last year. I decided to improve them from the previous wood version to metallic and glitter infused acrylic. I’ve also produced the Willberry Decorations for the past two years. All profits go to the Willberry Wonder Pony charity and I love seeing pictures customers post of them hanging on their trees. 

The Quote Posters & Cards came about from posts I used for Instagram etc. Someone asked if that’s what they were, so I produced them!

Can’t remember where the candle idea came from (I’m always thinking of ideas!) but it definitely was a lightbulb moment! I get so excited when I think of a great name, however Unicorn Fluff was thought of by one of the Twitterherd, I just matched it to the candy floss scent; and as promised I sent her the first one.

Let’s start with your branding – how did you decide on your logo, the colours and your branding overall?

Recently rebranded due to the candles. My first logo was actually created from the Photoart. I have a giant one in my workshop. 

As I started to add new collections it changed to a very simple text version. I’ve I always wanted a round logo and when the time came for the candle tins to be designed, there it was. (I’ve still got my original drawing on a green post it, stuck on to one of the candle tins) 

Hanrose Pick N Mix

How did you decide on your packaging? What elements did you consider?

The hay idea for packaging was another lightbulb moment and ties in perfectly with the equestrian theme, plus doing my bit for the environment. The popcorn idea came when selecting the the bags for the wax melts. 

What kind of response have you received to your packaging?

Everyone appears to love the hay their candles are nestled in and the popcorn has got people talking! I’m sure there will be a few more options to follow. 

Do you think packaging adds to a product and the customer experience? Was this something you factored into your product quite early on or something that has evolved over time?

From the lovely comments I receive, I feel the packaging does add to the customer experience. We often like things and never contact the company to say, so when people post pictures etc I know I’ve put a smile on their face.  I love the fact that the packaging for the candles & wax melts is quirky. The luxury of being in control is, I can do what I want, when I want. It’s always evolving, if I think of something new I usually do it. Just like the popcorn, off I went to buy a popcorn maker and a box of kernels!

Are there any other brands who have packaging that inspires you? Or that you think is done really well?

I simply adore fancy packaging, gorgeous boxes with embossed writing & bows. The packaging that the larger businesses can provide, which get you excited before you even open it! 

Hanrose Candle

Anything else you’d like to add?

I would just like to say thank you, it was great to see your reaction when opening your Hanrose parcel. Watch this space, my light bulb moments usually go into production and a new product could appear at anytime! 

Find Johanna and Hanrose online here…




As Badminton Horse Trials starts this week, it seemed a good idea to share this blog all about Fairfax & Favor, a brand and stand that is on my hit list when I attend the event on Friday, and a website I find myself straying towards more regularly than I’d admit in public (oops).

As you may have noticed (if you follow my blog or my Facebook page, you will have noticed!), that I’m a teeny bit obsessed with packaging. Well, obsessed sounds bad. I have a keen interest in packaging. I think packaging as much as social media, blogs, press releases, the design of a website (I could go on and on) helps to tell your company’s story. Whether you’re a sole trader or a huge company, packaging matters. Just like your social media does. Just like your website does. But how often do you see amazing packaging? Yep, not all that often. So when I see something special, I have to share. I’ve written about a few great examples, but today I’m going to talk about Fairfax & Favor and their Regina packaging.

Haven’t we been here before?

Yes and no. Last time I created a video about Fairfax & Favor’s Windsor Bag. That was equally stunning, but this time we’re talking about boots. Now, the Regina is the boot style that Fairfax & Favor is best known for (although there’s now an Explorer and other boots too). Being quite tall, I went for the flat version, although I assume that the heeled ones have similar packaging. I can’t see why they wouldn’t.

What did Fairfax & Favor get right?

Quite a few things…

  • The care and attention given to the packaging gives you a feel for the quality of the product within.
  • The handwritten note. Something that I think all businesses should do. It makes you feel special and like the company cares about your business.
  • The show dates/invite. It promotes the events that the company is at this season, but framed as an invite which, again, makes you feel special.
  • The fabric wrap/liner. I’m not sure the correct name. The boots were/are wrapped in a piece of material to help protect them. And it’s Fairfax & Favor branded. Obviously.

Anyway, I’ve created a video about the packaging too – enjoy!

I’d love to hear you thoughts. Have you experienced packaging that has blown you away? Do you think it matters? Let me know!

It’s video time! In this video I’m talking all about how you can make something negative, positive – well, how you can take negative feedback generated by a faulty product and turn into a positive. How you can turn this into a great PR opportunity? Does it sound a bit far fetched? I don’t think so…

Is it really possible?

It honestly depends on a number of factors but I think in most cases it can be IF it’s handled properly. I say most cases because it obviously does depend on the ‘damage’ something has caused, this can be a variable and can mean that your task is incredibly difficult if not impossible. However, when I created this video I was thinking more about popular products that we buy that can leave us disappointed, something like clothing or footwear. I’m not talking dodgy seatbelts here. I’m looking at the kind of products that most people sell online.

Any other caveats?

Yes. The dodgy product needs to be unusual. If all your products are substandard you’re basically firefighting and you can’t win long term because everyone is going to be peed off with you because you’ve let them down.

But what about social media?

Yep. Social media has changed the game in this area. Previously people would call the company or email them first – or even take it back to the shop they bought it from – and would follow the correct complaints procedure. Now they take to social media. If you’re lucky they’ll send you a message, but they might just post that you’re Satan on your Facebook page and that they’re bitterly disappointed/the product is cheap and rubbish/they hate you. Before you become a keyboard warrior too, just take a breath. It can be really frustrating and it makes you wonder if you should bother trying to turn this negative into a positive but you should. Honestly. Even if they don’t respond how you’d like, your other customers will see that you’re trying – in some cases they might come to your defence (I’ve seen this happen before…). Acknowledge their message and suggest they DM you or email you with additional information to try and remove the discussion from public view. This has the obvious benefit but also allows you to ask them personal details that they shouldn’t disclose in public. Be nice to them. Try and help them. Obviously you must follow your company’s complaints procedure, but do it in a nice way. If you say you’ll get back to them by a date – DO – even if you have to say you’re still waiting. Keep them informed. Be honest. Be genuine. Be understanding. If you can, send them a goodwill gesture. You’ll be amazed at how these ‘haters’ can become your biggest cheerleaders if treated kindly and respectfully by someone who wants to help them.

Of course, no one should ever be happy with selling substandard products, but sometimes things slip through the net- I’ve had clothes shrink, boots split and all manner of things as I am sure you have. These things happen and people do generally understand. And if you’re nice to them, you might have got yourself a lifelong brand ambassador too.

If you liked this, you might like this blog here – all about turning a negative or fault products into a good PR opportunity.

I have, well, had, one of those Audis with the emissions issue. I was a bit cross about it initially (I mean, who wants a fibbing car?!), but their customer service and communication has been second to none. They have turned what could have be a negative into a HUGE positive, so much so I have been raving about them ever since. Actually, I filmed a video about it – click on the screenshot and you’ll be taken to Youtube!

How did Audi nail customer service?

So, what did they do? First, they kept me fully informed of the issue and how they were planning to fix it. Good move. I’m actually a pretty patient person when people keep me informed of what’s going on. Next, when the update was available, they sent me a letter telling me what I needed to do. It was clear and it as concise, and it offered a collection service. Being just under 20 miles away from my nearest garage, I didn’t think it would apply to me. But it did. They asked if I’d like the free valet and the free winter health check too when they did the update. I said yes. The man from Audi arrived when he said, he took the car away, they called me to say that it was all sorted (as they said they would) and asked me what free gift I’d like. Yep. Another freebie. And then the car was delivered back to me with all the documentation, all clean and shiny and updated. They followed up too with a call to make sure I was happy. Nice.

What can we learn?

What can we learn? Customer service trumps most issues. If the customer service I’d received from Audi had been substandard, the emissions issue could have really annoyed me – not because of the actual problem, but the inconvenience to me to sort out something that I had not caused. But it wasn’t even slightly inconvenient. More than that, they threw in a few extra things, like the valet and the car check, that made me feel special. I mean, I was pretty thrilled – anyone who lives in the countryside gets pretty excited when someone offers to clean their car for free. They kept me informed. They did what they said. Actually, they over-delivered.

Stuff goes wrong, we know this, but you’ll often find that the thing that broke isn’t the part that turns reasonable people into pretty savage beasts. It’s how they’re treated and handled. If you ‘channel’ Audi, you can turn a potentially negative situation into a positive – the customer experience, the care, the service, can change a potentially angry customer into a fan, actually, an advocate for your brand. Who wouldn’t want that?

Anyone who reads my blog or follows me on Facebook will know I have a thing for packaging. A bit of an obsession. Actually, I now have people send me pictures of packaging and strike up conversations about it on a fairly regular basis. And I love that. I know it might seem weird, but packaging is a big part of what you do, especially if you’re a luxury brand. Because receiving a beautifully packaged product adds to the whole experience in a big way. It makes you feel like the people who have designed and sell the product care as much as you do about it. It adds to the experience.

So, you can imagine my delight when my Windsor Bag from Fairfax & Favor came in beautiful packaging. But it was actually a lot more than just a lovely box. It was clever. Actually, so clever I made a video the next day. If you click on the pic, you should be whisked to Youtube to see the video.

I’d been admiring the bag for years (actually, I wrote a blog about that too and why I bought it!), but when I took the plunge, I didn’t expect to love the packaging as much as I do and did. So, what did Fairfax & Favor do, or what about Fairfax & Favor’s packaging made them stand out from the crowd? I’ll tell you…

  • Really good customer service
  • Fast delivery
  • A stunning, well made, beautifully branded box that I still have sat on my desk
  • A paper wallet that explained the Fairfax & Favor competition on Instagram and how I could take part, a handwritten note (I have spoken to SO many people about this), and an invite to their stand at the shows they’re attending this year. And a catalogue. Obviously,
  • A fabric cover that goes over the bag to protect it. Beautifully branded, even down to the tassels with the Fairfax & Favor logo on.

Now, I’m not naive here. I get how this game is played and I know that all the things above are very deliberate. They want me to feel like I did and do about the packaging (OK, maybe they didn’t expect me to get that excited about the packaging, but that would be quite a stretch!) and the product. They wanted me to feel special and start what could be an expensive and long time love affair with the brand. And I get that. Does it make me love the Fairfax & Favor packaging any less? Hell no. Because anyone could do it and most don’t bother. Yes, there’s a time factor with writing the note. Yes, there’s a cost for that level of packaging, but by being creative and applying some thought, every brand out there can do things to make their customers feel special. To make their customers feel like they care and genuinely value their business. Definite food for thought. I’d love to hear your take on it all.