Carton of Cacti
As you may know from just knowing us or perhaps you read our story about the Dig Your Own Cactus band, we offer our customers a chance to dig their own cactus. It's pretty popular with just about everyone from cactus experts to new cactus fans.
You may be asking yourself the question we often get asked, "How do you dig your own cactus?" Despite its laborious sounding name, it's pretty simple. We have various baby cacti growing in multiple trays set out on tables in our Cactus Greenhouse. We call this our Dig Your Own Cactus Bar. You first grab a tiny terra cotta pot that's just happens to be perfectly sized for a baby cactus. Then you grab a set of kitchen tongs. You wrap the ends of the tongs around the cactus, sometimes digging the ends a bit into the dirt below the cactus. Then through your own personal gauge of how much to squeeze, you close the tongs, pull up, and you've "dug up" your cactus! Plop it into the tiny terra pot and you've got yourself a new cactus friend.
These cute cacti are very popular especially with our customers travelling to and from the Joshua Tree area and the National Park / Monuments. They are perfectly travel-sized, right? Well, yes, most of the time. One of the first things our Creative Director, Lisa, noticed when she first came on board was our customers not only wanted one Dig Your Own Cactus (we call them Diggers) but several. Wrangling these little cacti in their pots and keeping them from tipping over was sometimes a big task, and we couldn't imagine what the car ride back to their destination was like having to cactus-sit anything more than whatever amount of potted Diggers one could hold in one or both hands.
Lisa discussed this one evening with her husband, Sean. "What could we do for our customers to give them a travel pack for their cacti?" We already had our Cacti Collection box, but it is set up as a gift giving box. We needed a quick grab-and-go solution. After sleeping on the idea, the concept of egg cartons was born.
The Diggers fit perfectly in the egg dimples of the cartons. So did the terra cotta pots. Our customers could now either buy a cartonful of just cacti or cacti plus pots and have them ride in the car without all the dangers of tipping over. The lids even shut!
Cactus Mart Owner, Nicole, loved the idea and we ordered some blank egg cartons. Always thinking about how to make products and experiences special for the customer, Lisa wanted these branded with a fun graphic.
The first attempt was a stamp. We tried a few of our Cactus Mart logo stamps but the surface of the egg carton was too bumpy to make a crisp, sharp print. Plus our existing stamps were all in a square design and once on the long rectangular carton top, the stamp design left a lot of empty space, and left us underwhelmed. The cost of a custom stamp large enough to take up the surface area of the egg carton top was too much — we wanted to keep the egg carton price to our customers as low as possible. We were also just trying out this concept and didn't know if it would sell.
So onto the next attempt. How about a stencil? A custom made sheet metal stencil was just as pricey as a large custom stamp. We were going to have create our own stencil, and this would give us the opportunity to create a design to showcase our brood of Cactus Mart hens who didn't have a shirt yet (besides a small appearance on our Cactus Mart GOATs shirt). A full-carton top design was made, printed out, and taped onto thicker Bristol board. Sean meticulously and patiently cut out the stencil using an Exacto knife. He then spray painted the tops using the stencil on to 50 egg cartons.
The carton tops turned out colorful, quirky, and rustic. We placed them out for the customers, and they loved them. We soon saw egg cartons carried around the store as people continued their shopping. They started showing up in photos on Instagram. We knew we had a hit and had to make more.
Frick ya, I love waking up to cacti flowers. This is our second purchase we've made, of 12 young cacti, from a shop in Joshua Tree. Stoked, they're only 69c each and the notocactus haselbergii (bottom far left) is already clumping. #cactus #cacticacti #flowers #bloom #cacti #succulents #succulentobsession #cactusclub #cactilove #cactus🌵#cactusmart #mammilaria #mammillarialover #mammillarialove #cacticacti #cactuscactus #blooms #cactiarrangement #natural #nature #plants #flowering #cactuscollector
But, we had a problem. Midway through the painting process, the homemade stencil paper got saturated and wet and caused the finer cut-out areas to curl up. Sean had crafted up some device to hold down these points while he sprayed the paint. The paint sometimes still got under the stencil. This took a long time that day. Too long to have to do that whole process again in a realistic time period and quantity. The stencil was tired and would not last another round.
So we turned to our friends at Windmill City Screen Printing. We wanted to give screen printing the carton tops a try. They set us up with a screen of the egg carton design and advised us on the type of paint and squeegee to order. We created our own homemade rig for the screen and tested it out. After a few blotchy carton tops and some re-calibrations to our rig, we were creating batches of egg cartons! And this has been our setup since.
We're excited to see this idea take off! Next time you visit, check them out and let us know what you think! You can even purchase them online.
July 27, 2018
Cactus Mart is a Cacti, Succulents, and Plant Emporium located in Morongo Valley, California.