If you’re seeking an eco-friendly idea, you can’t get much greener than seed paper from Boulder, Colorado-based Bloomin’ Promotions (UPIC: Bloom108). Even the building itself runs on solar power. “When it’s a bright, sunny day, we can monitor how much energy we’re conserving,” says President Don Martin. “It helps employees be cognizant on the consumption side as well.”
Seeded bookmarks and postcards are the most popular choice for promotions, but there’s a menagerie of options—from calendars to confetti. “All of our products are handmade from start to finish,” Martin says.
The process begins by soaking recycled, post-consumer paper overnight to help the paper fibers break down. Then, a large commercial beater pulverizes the fibers into a pulp, getting it ready to be colored with organic dyes and pigments.
Colored pulp is poured into large buckets, and paper makers use traditional moulds and deckles to craft the paper one sheet at a time. “Basically, a mould is a handmade wooden frame used to contain the pulp in a given parent sheet size,” Martin explains, “and the deckle is the screen used to gently press the excess moisture from the pulp.”
Moulded pulp sheets are placed on special cloths and ushered into a controlled drying facility. It’s a delicate process—if the paper dries too fast or gets exposed to too much heat, the seeds can burn up and die.
“We also have to ensure the paper doesn’t stay wet too long or the seeds will start to germinate prematurely in the wet pulp,” says Martin. When the paper exits the dryers, it’s neatly stacked and gently pressed to give it a flat, uniform feel, which helps minimize loss when printing and die cutting the sheets.
“There are two distinct categories of Bloomin’ seed paper promotions,” says Martin. There’s a unique line of integrated products where one part of the promotion is planted, and the other part remains as a branded leave behind. Customers can choose from more than 500 die-cut seed paper shapes, or they can opt to have a custom die made.
The colorful seed paper sheets are die cut into shapes and punched out of the parent sheets. They are then assembled together with a recycled and printed cardstock collateral piece. Staffers make one final quality-control check, and the seed-paper products are counted, packed into boxes and shipped.
Not all seed paper promos utilize die-cut shapes, however. “The other half of our seed paper offerings are printed directly on the smooth, flat, white seed paper using our earth-friendly, proprietary printing technology,” Martin says. Unlike the integrated pieces, these promos are planted in their entirety.
“A lot of customers inquire to buy the paper and do the printing themselves,” says Martin, “but what they don’t realize is that there is a steep learning curve towards getting it right. We prefer to produce products from start to finish, allowing us to control the high quality and germination rates we are known for.”
Leave the printing to the pros, and you’ll have more time to cultivate great promotion ideas … and maybe flip through a gardening book or two.
>>Bloomin’ Promotions At A Glance
Factory size: Approximately 15,000 square feet
Number of employees: Average of 40-50 (depending on the season)
Busiest time of year: March and April ahead of Earth Day, Mother’s Day and spring planting
Number of seed-paper colors: 22
Interesting company fact: It’s 100-percent solar powered by a 30-kilowatt solar system that offsets 100 percent of the company’s energy consumption.
>>Five Steps To Grow Seed Paper
1. Loosen the soil.
2. Soak the seed paper in water overnight.
3. Plant the wet seed paper in the prepared soil at a depth of about 1/4 inch.
4. Water well, especially during the first four to six weeks.
5. Practice weed control.