​Ticking all the right boxes

28 Apr 2017 - News

​Ticking all the right boxes

From numerous jobs involving packaging, Samoan Josephine Hale has designed and made a cardboard box that is re-useable, simple to use and perfect for supermarket owners who want to avoid staff injuries when cutting boxes in the rush to get products on the shelves. It’s creating strong interest from the business community and the Pacific Business Trust is assisting the West Auckland mother in getting into a highly competitive, but lucrative market

Having become a Mum at a young age, Josephine Hale (known to friends and family as Jo) never pursued an education beyond secondary school. As more children came into the world, Jo (whose parents came from Afega in Samoa) worked hard, long unsociable hours doing fairly menial work for minimal wages to make ends meet.

But what set her apart from her colleagues at work was her curiosity. She would study production and procedures and would often comment to her fellow workers on ways to increase efficiency and decrease waste.

Not that anyone on the production floor took notice.

“I’d say that there were easier, time-saving and cost-saving ways to do things, but the other workers would say ‘it’s been like this for 20 years and things aren’t going to change’,” Jo recalls.

“But things do change. Technology advances, new products are invented and existing products improve.”

During her many jobs, Jo had learnt that to innovate she needed to “think outside the box”.

So she tried.

Initially unsuccessful, Jo realised the box itself was the answer staring at her square in the face.

Having worked in supermarkets unwrapping boxes and stacking shelves in the early mornings and evenings when the store was closed, she knew that time was of the essence. In the rush to unpack and stack the shelves workers would often cut themselves when slicing the tape.

“I was told by one supermarket owner that his ACC expenses alone costed his business $5,000 a year due to accidents on the floor,” says Jo.

“In one case, a nightshift worker left a knife on the floor. It was picked up by a little child when the supermarket opened and the child was badly cut.”

She continued experimenting, exerting her mental energy capacity to the full.

“It was tough on me working in the evening and getting the kids to school and sport during the day,” she says.

“I don’t think I’ve ever had an uninterrupted sleep for longer than six hours.”

Through trial and tribulation Jo emerged with an innovative packaging product that “maximises productivity and minimises waste” by “providing boxes which do not require manipulation or knives.”

At first glance it looks like just another cardboard box. But Jo has designed it in such a way the product:

  • Minimises end costs to customers by reducing crushing
  • Helps customers speed up operations by reducing the time spent unpacking goods
  • Provides better quality packaging, which better suits the supermarket chains
  • Provides a product that can be reused and recycled
  • Avoids injuries caused when using knives to open and unwrap cardboard packaging


It has attracted considerable interest and attention among supermarket owners and global packaging businesses.

It’s one reason why Jo is working through the process of protecting her intellectual property (IP).

She admits she knew little about the legal process. Unsure who to approach, she contacted the Pacific Business Trust.

“To be honest, I thought the Trust was more to do with community enterprises than my idea,” she recalls.

“But I thought I’d give them a try. I was surprised that when I rang it was Kim (Tuaine), the CEO that answered the phone. I was lucky because I was so nervous, but she was great.

“Kim loved the concept and the fact she’s a lawyer who obviously has an understanding of the IP protection process gave me a lot of confidence … and hope.”

The Trust has assisted Jo to protect her IP, working with Richard Taurima (Business Growth Manager) and Ola Vala (Business Growth Advisor) with support from AJ Park, a leading provider of IP services in New Zealand, Australia, the Pacific, and around the world.

Determining what type of IP to protect was the first step in the process, establishing that a design was required because it is the look of Jo’s product that is worth protecting.

The design provides a right for a set period, especially the sole right to exclude others from making, using, or selling the design.

The Trust was able to offer Jo extra support, connecting with global accounting firm KPMG (who PBT is a client of), to provide a canvas map of Jo’s product.

The map details her product’s differences to existing products in the market that it will be competing against.

For Pacific Business Trust CEO Kim Tuaine, Jo’s ingenuity and perseverance is an example of the untapped entrepreneurial potential that exists within Pacific communities.

“We support Jo because she’s motivated by a passion and self-belief to deliver a new product with huge potential from limited resources,” says Kim.

“Our role at the Trust is helping her connect the dots by giving her access to strategic relationships that we have access to. Those relationships will help her think about her business and model it in a way that works for her and reflects her core beliefs.”

Jo is confident her product easily ticks the boxes that need to be ticked against potential competitors and IP protection.

She admits it has been a challenging road, but the assistance provided by the Trust gives her confidence it has been worth the effort.

Protect your IP with our support

AJ Park is supporting Pacific Business Trust to deliver an intellectual property (IP) seminar to Pacific businesses. AJ Park is a leading provider of IP services in Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific region, acting for a diverse range of organisations and individuals.

Protecting your intellectual property helps your ideas, secrets, concepts and reputations have their best chance of reaching their commercial potential. An IP strategy allows you to understand, manage and capitalise on the IP in your organisation. It can also help you win more market share, secure higher prices or ensure lower costs than your competitors. A clear strategy also answers the day-today questions most organisations face around what to do about IP.

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