Minimalism has long been defined in the art community – from sculptures to paintings – but it has grown in popularity in recent years and woven its way into being an everyday lifestyle.

We all know how overwhelmed everyone is in today’s world. We’re actively finding ways to unplug & rechargerest & relaxtake time for ourselves. We’re even bringing back our golden days of coloring books and other fun office products. But we can do so much more for ourselves. There’s no reason to force ourselves into a state of relaxation that only lasts minutes/hours/days. There are actionable items that can be taken to impact every day for as long as we let it.

Enter the minimalist lifestyle.

What is it? For some, it’s the elimination of excess: the many things that are not absolute necessities as well as disposable necessities. For others, minimalism is a movement towards “living life meaningfully.” To expand on that quote from theminimalists.com:

Minimalism is a tool that can assist you in finding freedom. Freedom from fear. Freedom from worry. Freedom from overwhelm. Freedom from guilt. Freedom from depression. Freedom from the trappings of the consumer culture we’ve built our lives around. Real freedom.

That doesn’t mean there’s anything inherently wrong with owning material possessions. Today’s problem seems to be the meaning we assign to our stuff: we tend to give too much meaning to our things, often forsaking our health, our relationships, our passions, our personal growth, and our desire to contribute beyond ourselves.

A true minimalist doesn’t just go through their closet and remove old, unwanted clothing – because they know that they are more likely to replace clothing within a few months if they do only that. Instead, a minimalist takes a hard look at their life and material choices and asks, “Is this something that I need? And does needing it make me happy, or is it a means to get through the day?” It might not go all the way to the Marie Kondo method, but it certainly starts to tap into her thought process.

How can you better understand the minimalist mindset?

We met with one of our Merchandisers, Laura Gallardo to get inside the mind of this personality and help you better plan your promotions for this audience.

YourBrandPartner: Laura, tell us a little bit about you.

Laura: My name is Laura Gallardo. I have worked at Staples Promotional Products (SPP) for about three years, moving from Program Administrator to Special Order to Merchandising.

YourBrandPartner: Tell me more about your positions at SPP.

Laura: In special order I helped customers find products that fit their special requests and requirements. We have access to literally millions of products, and a lot of those allow our customers to completely customize them – from the shape and design of the item all the way to the decoration treatments. If you can think it, we can probably do it.

YourBrandPartner: And that translated into merchandising for you?

Laura: I’ve always really loved product. In fact, I used to maintain a personal blog where I showcased lots of product that spoke to my aesthetic and lifestyle. At work, it was through Special Order that I found that I really loved the merchandising aspect of the process, so Merchandising was a natural step for me to move into.

YourBrandPartner: How did minimalism come into your life?

Laura: Minimalism really came to me as a result of blogging. When I blogged, I was very much aware of the newest trends in fashion, tech, and home decor. In order to feel connected with the blogging community, I felt like I needed all the stuff everyone else was blogging about. After a year of accumulating, I realized that I wasn’t using most of the items I had in my home. Yes, I was on trend, and yes, I had the latest gadgets, but these things really weren’t giving me joy. I had fallen into the fast fashion trap.

YourBrandPartner: What is fast fashion?

Laura: In essence, fast fashion is a result of mass production. Before the rise of ready-to-wear or off-the-rack items, if you wanted, say, a new piece of clothing for the season, you would have to buy material and have someone sew that item for you, or, if you were really handy, you made it yourself! Clothing was an investment since it cost more money and took time to produce. Trends were slow to change. Because of mass production, trends now come and go in a blink of an eye, and the latest fashionable pieces are now easily and inexpensively available.

YourBrandPartner: So how does that relate to promo products?

Laura: The notion of fast fashion is alive in the promo products industry, for sure. People clamor for the trendy, popular items that are economical and quick to produce. However, mass production takes away from a sense of uniqueness and even value associated by the recipient. That said, I believe that promotional products can be used to focus on longevity and client loyalty. Giving something that’s higher quality, even if that means spending a little more, can make a huge difference if it’s creatively thought out and personalized to a more targeted audience. People are increasingly moving away from having too much stuff that clutters their lives. They only keep those items that have meaning to them or give them joy.

YourBrandPartner: Does it really make a difference? What is it?

Laura: To a Millennial, yes, to a Gen Xer, yes, to a Boomer, yes – so, a resounding yes! People value quality over quantity. They want to know that they received something that was thoughtfully selected. And most chances are, they’ll end up keeping something meaningful over a cheap, trendy doodad.  I would challenge anyone who says that a person would knowingly ask for a free giveaway to be cheaper and lower in quality. There has to be a handoff there for them to say that. If they believe in you and your brand, they will appreciate you investing in them.  And that will lead to a longer lasting relationship for both of you.

laura gallardo staples merchandiser Laura Gallardo loves to read, make pottery, spend time with her cats, and shop! The part she loves most about her job is finding cool, unique items for customers.

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