Little Lantern Shop

Product, branding, and asset design for a 3D prints shop

I went to Wellesley College for undergrad. Wellesley is a women’s college in Massachusetts where distinctive lanterns light up the campus paths on curled posts. To students and alums, these lanterns are almost a symbol of the college. After a 3D printed mini lantern my husband made for me went viral within the Wellesley Facebook community (yes, there is one, and it is shockingly active!), we collaborated in designing a number of other Wellesley-inspired 3D printed products.

While my husband did the work involving the printer, I designed our branding and assets, built the shop website, and developed the customer experience. This was the most enjoyable part of the process for me. I wanted people to open their packages and feel something; like a little taste of Wellesley community.

The logo

First things first: I needed a name and logo. I wanted the shop to be Wellesley-focused, and I also knew that part of the charm of the shop was that it was a one-woman (well, one-woman-and-spouse) show, run by an alum. So I came up with ‘the Little Lantern Shop’ — a play on the fact that we create mini lanterns, but are also a small-scale project.

The logo is a Wellesley lantern with two hands holding the name, as though it was made as a fold-and-cut project.

Stamps and stickers

The logo makes an appearance in lots of places, from the stickers that close packages and envelopes, to stamps on the backs of envelopes or the inside of the package lid.

Small touches

I also wanted other parts of the branding to “feel” like Wellesley. For example, Wellesley has four class colors. Each graduating class has one of these colors, and they repeat on a loop. As a member of the class of 2016, my class color is red, as was that of the class of 2012 before me and 2020 after me. I can’t speak for all Wellesley alums, but I at least feel a strong connection to my class color.

To make the packaging evoke this same feeling college class pride, I came up with the idea to offer class color packaging for ornament orders, with colored paper crinkle and a class-color sticker that you could specify upon ordering. If you didn’t provide a class color, I’d give you one at random. Even the stickers on the outside of the ornament boxes got this class color treatment.

Order-tracking website

Although we moved over to Etsy after the first six months, I handled the 250 preorders we'd gotten manually, and built an order-tracking website for people to get updates.

This was truly a passion project for me, and I experienced it as a success not only because of the number of sales the shop got, but primarily because of the joy I felt in making these assets, and the joy I got to bring other Wellesley alums through the prints. I saw moms ordering packages for their daughters, former roommates sending each other gifts for Christmas, and friend groups getting ornaments for each other. What led me in this process was ultimately a focus on small steps and satisfying my creative itches: focusing on small, achievable pieces that feel fun.