In July 2006, Jo Ashburner was awarded the coveted title of UK National Business Woman of the Year (The award is sponsored by Grazia (magazine) and 02 (mobile telecommunications)) "for her strong passion for innovation, determination to push the boundaries in her field and do business in a different and individual way".
Jo is a very creative and driven woman and likes to make things happen. She graduated from university in 2004, and by 2005 had already launched her unique felted lambs wool comfort blanket, Noonoo©, with hand-embroidered "children’s art", which was developed taking inspiration from her young son Zac’s drawings. This fast track success story has led to her setting up an independent manufacturing site in Vietnam, employing 28 people, as well as making her own patented product and manufacturing products for other small businesses. Today she sells her products all over the world. FAO Schwarz and Takashimaya in New York are among the many prestigious retailers who sell her products state-side, as well as various boutiques at the high end of the gift, lifestyle and nursery markets in the UK, Dubai, Japan, Europe and Australia.
The Packaging Made the Product
Jo built up her network of retailers at trade fairs, exhibitions and from reaction to her extensive marketing approach – and it quite soon became evident that her charming comfort blankets were a success. But the message from the retailers was unanimous: you need packaging - we love the product, but display is a real issue for retailers, and we need to retain the value of the product by presenting it properly. "This was something we had to address very quickly, so we started to look for packaging on the web and found Frövi" (today Korsnäs), says Jo. "We got a lot of invaluable help from the UK End-User Manager, Darren Thomas, who guided us through this new area with great patience! He suggested what aspects we should think about and how we could communicate our brand through the packaging. Frövi’s PackLab was involved with the mock-ups and generated some valuable suggestions based on our input. We felt that we had found a supplier not only of board, but also of know-how in the packaging field" says Jo.
Quality Written All Over It
The design had to be transparent, clean, natural and in harmony with the product. The result is a gift box that you can both stack and hang, with a big window displaying the content. The Noonoo© brand is embossed as the only décor on the front panel. "The perceived value of the product is now much higher with the packaging and we immediately saw a boost in sales for re-orders, which has maintained momentum in the growth of our sales. The gift box has quality written all over it and it gives the product the platform it deserves without taking away from the product itself", Jo concludes.