Marking South Africa’s National Women’s Month in August, the Institute of Packaging SA’s (IPSA’s) Northern Region hosted a Women in Packaging High Tea Celebration at Glenda’s Restaurant in Hyde Park, Johannesburg. The inspirational speaker line-up included a user of packaging, a packaging printer, a paper recycling champion and a lifetime packaging achiever.
First up was Katherine-Mary Pichulik, founder of the handcrafted jewellery line, PICHULIK, which celebrates Africa and sees jewellery and ornamentation as a sacred conduit for healing, community and the sharing of wisdom.
Katherine emphasised that packaging plays a vital role in the way consumers perceive brands, helping to endorse a brand’s narrative. ‘From an e-commerce perspective, we need packaging to protect the jewellery but also to tell a story,’ Katherine explained.
To create an intimacy with her products, she includes a handwritten note with every purchase, making it more personal and creating a customer experience. ‘There’s an exciting, emerging entrepreneurial market that the packaging industry can assist by telling their stories,’ Katherine insisted.
Initially, Yvette Roberts, now MD of Durban-based Pro-Print, wasn’t sure what she wanted to do with her life. After years of trial and error as a chef and caterer, Yvette’s parents invited her to join the family packaging printing business.
‘I started by working my way around every single section of the factory floor to understand the processes, technologies and mundane tasks the staff must endure,’ she explained. ‘And this is a good reflection of our business philosophy: if you expect a staff member to do something, make sure you’ve done it yourself so you know what the experience is about,’ she advised.
‘Although the industry is male-dominated, I believe there are many opportunities for women who put in the time and effort. Sometimes all it takes to successfully bring a product to market is a woman’s touch.
Executive director of the Paper Manufacturers Association of South Africa, Jane Molony, encouraged everyone to take risks. ‘When you’re faced with a choice, don’t be scared to take it because you fear what the outcome might be. Think of it as experience and knowledge building,’ she declared.
Jane’s passion for the environment started when she was young and she knew she wanted to contribute to a greener way of living.
She encouraged those not yet recycling to get into the habit of stopping when they get to a rubbish bin and checking to see if the product can be separated for recycling or reused rather than thrown away.
PPM’s Gill Loubser, applauded the progress of women in the industry over the past 40 years and was excited to see the 75 female faces around the room.
‘It has been amazing to hear other women’s experiences and to relate my own, which I can only describe as serendipity – being in the right place at the right time!’
When Gill first worked in a publishing business, she knew she was meant to be there and developed a passion for understanding all aspects of the editorial, production and printing processes. ‘Since the beginning, it has been the most remarkable, rewarding, fulfilling and interesting career,’ she remarked.
‘As a woman in a male-dominated industry, it’s hard work and a battle to prove yourself. But I love watching other women excel and hope to see many more enjoy their careers, as I have done, in the packaging and printing industry,’ Gill concluded.
A heartfelt thanks from the committee to the generous headline sponsors: Messe München South Africa, Ren-Form, Specialised Exhibitions Montgomery and PPM, as well as those who donated goodie bag items and lucky draw prizes, which included Glass Decorations, Kemtek Imaging Systems, Nando’s Feitoria, Transpaco, and Trempak.