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A Happy, Handcrafted Bit of Christmas Charm

Santa has been generous to me in my life

This year I had a tall order, and I’m not sure I’ve been that good.

For the end of 2023, we had a specific set of requirements for the gifts to our most active local clients. It had to be handmade; it had to be personable; it had to echo our passion for the future; it had to align with our drive to do more good in this world; and it had to speak to the human spirit with relation to creativity and beautiful things, something at the very core of what we do.

We had the idea for bags of coffee, the fuel of deadlines and creativity. But what next?

We had to make each one unique and beautiful, but had only a few good artists in Malta (much of our design team are in other regions) and drawing (by hand) designs on these all amidst the December madness was not only impossible, but it wouldn’t result in the special care per bag we craved. We needed more hands. Do we hire outside help? Do we compromise on the uniqueness of each bag and instead do patterned prints in batches? Do we get some freelancers? We really didn’t want to compromise on the hand-crafted feel, and if we got freelancers, it would feel less authentic to who we are. And how on Earth do we tie this with a little bit of Christmas good will?

Our very own Daniela Spiteri, who runs admin and assists Finance, pitched the idea of partnering with a local NGO. They had the hands we needed, and would take more care with the bags than we were capable of in the timeframe; and most importantly it offered us another opportunity to work a little closer with our community.

I loved it and told her I’ll back her, let’s present it.

We did a few early mockups of what could work, and started thinking about the potential problems: the children, while all keen artists in their own right, were of varying ages and artistic ability, but we wanted to give them all an opportunity to have fun and be part of something bigger. As such, we started shopping for stencils, stickers, glitter and glue. Those who felt confident could do what they want, and those who had not developed much dexterity yet, could rely on the tools so they don’t feel left behind by the, typically, older children. I pitched it to Philip Mercieca, our head of design, and he recommended we give the children a base, so, if nothing else, they had something to colour. Our new brandmark served as the perfect solution, and gave us the opportunity to also unify the look without restricting the children’s creativity.

We pitched, we sold, and we started running.

But then I was approached by a wide-eyed Christmas lover

Finding Our Partners

Matthew Sammut, our Chief Revenue Officer, was close with just the right NGO and opened up the door for us with Children in Need, A charitable organisation based in Malta, set up to raise funds for the support of the physical, mental, social and educational needs of children who are at a disadvantage. They loved the idea, and together with Fondazzjoni Sebħ; a legacy foundation that provides residential services to children, female survivors of violence and their children, as well as a community service offering support to individuals and families, we could move forward.

We had our partners.

Next, we needed the Brandmark replicated on each bag, but this was no job for a simple office printer. We ordered a stamp (as close to handcrafted as we could get and a charming solution) to give our little hands the base from which to work.

We stamped the bags and sent them to Santa’s factory. What ensued was a day of arts and crafts, and ultimately some of the sweetest projects we could imagine. (I’m particularly fond of the cat in the stocking, for whomever got that one).

Back in our hands and with almost 60 kgs of coffee beans that needed to be divided and poured into bags, we set to work. We had one scale, a funnel that was too small for efficient throughput (pfft…one bean at a time…sorry funnel), but with some quick scratching in the cupboards and out of the box, Julija, Daniela and I set to work. And sincerest thanks to Carmen for cleaning up our mess while we took photos and prepped lists.

And that, dear client, is the story of your bag. I truly hope you appreciate the spirit of it, and I hope it’s in stark contrast to anything else you receive this Christmas, possibly a cute story you might remember for many years.

I know I will.

If anyone reading this is swept up in the spirit of giving, I urge you to consider donating to these lovely organisations. What seems little to you, means much to them. I’ll add a link for your convenience.

https://www.childreninneed.org.mt/donatenow

From all of us at 9H Digital, I want to wish you all very merry Christmas. Thank you for supporting us, and allowing us to grow your businesses with you.

Getting to Work

Article Written by

Ruaan Grobler

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