Build Your Community (& your business!) with Creative Marketing

Build your community (& your business) with creative marketing, Lu and Ed

Hi, I’m Cody, owner of Lu & Ed. I make eco-friendly toy storage solutions for kids in the form monsters, all from upcycled fabrics. I’ve been a part of the handmade community for almost four years and I adore the OMHG community so when I was invited by Jessika to contribute a post about my latest endeavor to help creative businesses be discovered, I was thrilled & honored! I really want to share this adventure with others so we can all learn new ways to work together and help the handmade community thrive!

As an owner of handmade business, I am always looking for creative ways to reward my customers for supporting my dream and allowing me to stay home with my young son. As an advocate for the handmade community, I’m always looking for ways to introduce people to shops I love.

A few weeks ago, an idea starting dancing around in my brain. The more I thought about it, the better the idea seemed, so I asked a few close friends and then reached out to the OMHG forums for feedback about my idea – creating swag bags stuffed with samples, coupons and promotional materials sent to me from various handmade businesses to put in with orders from my monster shop.

Build your community (& your business) with creative marketing, Lu and Ed

It sounds a little strange, right? Send me your products to send to my customers? I was worried it might, but I know for a fact putting products right into the hands of your target audience works – I won a giveaway The Gnarly Whale Shop had once, and after trying their lip balm from that giveaway, I became a loyal customer. I exclusively use their vegan lip balms and shampoos now, thanks to that one sample lip balm!  I have heard from people who won prizes in my multi-vendor giveaways I’ve held on my blog that have emailed me to tell me that they purchased from the vendors many times after receiving a prize from them. So I thought, why not take samples and coupons from brands I love and put them right in the hands of people who will also adore them? It is direct, effective marketing that isn’t spammy, like ads.

I decided in order for people to benefit from this, I would only accept swag sponsors that I knew my customers would adore so that everyone will benefit greatly from it. My audience has to be their target audience or it wouldn’t really benefit them to contribute swag. I have spent almost four years getting to know my customers & what they like, so I applied that knowledge and after some thought, concluded that I would only accept swag for kids and parents that fits into one or more of these categories: eco-friendly, all natural, organic, colorful, monstrous, kawaii/cute. Then I invited some brands I really like and thought my customers would as well to participate in my trial swag bags.

I received items from hair clips made with upcycled fabrics, eco-friendly greeting cards and bookmarks to coupons for 30% off for over ten brands for the trial bags. As the first few swag bags went out, I was a little nervous – I really wanted my customers to enjoy this extra reward and I hoped that each artist involved would benefit immensely from it. Worry and doubt started tugging at my mind – what if this idea was a bust? As the first bags arrived to my customers, I received instant feedback – people love them and adore the products from the sponsors! So what did I learn? Even the the most well-thought out plans with the best intentions can be nerve-racking but you have to learn to trust your gut! Armed with newly inflated confidence, I set about collecting applications for round two of the swag bags!

Something else I learned? Time is valuable. As much as I wanted to offer this service for free, I knew from the get-go that wasn’t going to be possible because of the time I would have to invest in promoting this program, reviewing applications and putting together the bags. Originally, I had planned to only charge $1-$3 for this service but as I invested more time in it and bought the supplies for it (and realized the shipping would be increased by the extra weight of the swag bags), I realized that rates that low wasn’t going to be feasible without taking a huge loss to offer this service. After some math, settled on $5 per 25 swag items for the bags per artist. That’s a low, low rate for for reaching a new corner of your target market and having 25 items being put directly into the hands of people who will adore them. At the end of the day, almost all of that $5 is invested into the bags, packaging, the extra postage and cost to promote the program, so this really is a lab or of love for me to show my dedication for the handmade movement and help equally fun and colorful businesses that make products for kids and parents grow and thrive!

As I have put this program together, I have also learned a lot about the handmade community and it’s unique needs – especially that it can be really difficult for niche shops to find ways to get their products in front of new consumers, and I want to bridge that gap. I want to help make it easier for like-minded businesses to be discovered and loved the way they should be for their unique offerings! I am excited to see where this swag bag program goes and how people benefit from it!

If you are interested in applying to be a part of Lu & Ed Swag Bags, hop over here and fill out this short form!

We’d love to know what you think of this idea in the comments or learn if you’ve ever tried a creative group marketing approach-what worked or didn’t work? 


Connect with Cody 

Lu & Ed is owned and operated by monster maker Cody, who sews in a small studio from her home in Kansas City, turning textile discards into upcycled laundry and toy storage solutions for kids called Mon-stors!



  1. Boo Chura says:

    Cody has left out an important aspect of her business. She always presents herself with a positive attitude. She is successful because she believes she is successful. Each endeavor is icing on her cake. If this swag bag idea didn’t work out, it would be a lesson learned in her world. We could all benefit from a more positive attitude. Cody has made it a reality. Let’s not forget, Mon-stors are also freaking cute!

  2. Darice says:

    Seriously brilliant idea! I love that your years of experience + customer knowledge are directly helping not only you – but the entire handmade movement…I think that fuzzy hat of yours is evidence of awesome inside your noggin. Love, love, love! 😀

  3. Su'ana Mompittseh says:

    Cody, this is a great idea!!! I LOVE it…we often do card packs, and I sometimes send samples of other things I sell with my items…but I know I am always thrilled when I buy something and they toss in an extra sample. I have a few others who’s items mesh in well with mine I might try this out with too.

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