Part 1: What do Jumanji, The Secret Garden, Travel, and Black Liberation Have in Common?
…They all inspired and informed the packaging design! Clearly I love all things adventure and exploration, particularly films, books, and experiences that make me wonder “what if?”
I wanted customers to have an unboxing experience that made them feel like they were explorers—”seekers” really—finding a buried treasure. The history of African resistance, rebellion, and community-building in the Americas has been hidden from us, and my goal for this product is to begin to unearth these stories so we might imagine what sites of freedom look like for us today.
Early investors/preorder customers for The EmancipatED Experience received their packages (see below) about 2.5 weeks ago, and I added a few extra goodies (mug, black sketchbook, pens and pencils) in their boxes to thank them for their patience as I navigated first time product development and values-aligned sourcing during a pandemic.
There are a lot of components that went into this, so I am sharing my inspirations in a few parts.
When collaborating with graphic designer Erika Granberry, I shared that I wanted people to feel like they found a mysterious box that hinted at a hidden treasure inside, something organic with symbols to draw you in. She said, “Like Jumanji” and I was like, “Yes! That is it!”...minus the treacherous bits, hehe.
These symbols on the box are actually inspired by the wood carvings of the Saramaka Maroons of Suriname and French Guiana (featured in volume 1 of our Hidden History Cards).
The Secret Garden
I loved this film because I was drawn to the idea of a safe haven for children where we could be free to explore and frolic in nature (have you seen the Black men frolicing videos on tiktok? I love them).
I want us to have green safe havens—real, physical spaces—and I wanted to evoke that feeling of nature and unearthing through the internal box design and box filler choices. The maroon societies that exist today are located deep in jungles or swamps because geographic isolation added another layer or protection for their communities (One day I’ll tell you about my 5 hour hike in Accompong–a Maroon community in Jamaica).
In Part 2 I will share more about how travel and Black liberation informed package and product design. Email content can be found on our blog.
If you want to get your hands on the full experience, The EmancipatED Experience is available now, it comes with the Hidden History Cards AND the Exploration Guide (several weeks of meaningful experiences for your family and your extended kinship communities.).
You can purchase the Hidden History Cards by themselves (not the full shebang but the cards themselves are full of visual and historical gems).