How it began ?
Like many, we use mailing bags (and even bin liners!) to send presents to nieces and items to eBay customers. My Mother asked me one day “Can’t you buy mailing bags? Not these boring grey ones – pretty ones. I bet people would love receiving them in the post, I know I would.”
I quickly took a look online and couldn't find anything, really – nothing! The most exciting bag I found was a horrible bright pink bag, not quite what I was looking for. I wanted to see if there could be a market for colourful mailing bags.
So my next online research took me to Royal Mail’s statistics for parcels, and this was where things started to get very interesting. In 2013, over 1.8 billion parcels were sent in the UK – and this was a growing number - 15% up on the previous year. And Royal Mail expect this number to keep growing to 2.3 billion by 2023!
6% of this is social mail – that sector alone represents almost 140 million parcels a year. And they’re all dull!
So, Crownn Limited was born – and I set to work creating The Original Funky Mailing Bag Co – straight into the deep end!
I’m keeping it all very British at the moment – production here gives me great control over quality and of course supports other British businesses. Ironically our Union Jack bags have been a popular product globally.
I remember the first bags we made – I plucked up the courage to order 21,000 in total. “Go big or go home!” I thought.
It was a proud moment when the lorry pulled up, the realisation that from a small idea, I was able to hold the final product. Ahead of me of course lay the task of offering them to the public and actually trying to sell them!
I began, as the only way I knew, selling on eBay and then later Amazon. In our first week we
sold 1,000 bags. I seemed to be proving the principle and this is a way I’d recommend to many early businesses – online is a great way to test the market. As sales continued to grow, my attention turned to bigger opportunities, our supermarkets and post offices were only selling plain boring mailing bags. How could I offer the Funky option? It was time to do more research!
We had more ideas for new, fun designs. We contacted larger retail stores and got lots of positive feedback. We attended trade shows – I remember feeling so small next to the lorries delivering exhibition stands – there we were unloading everything from the boot of my mother’s car!
As we grew I started to run out of time, so needed help. The first place I turned to was my family. I now employ both of my sisters who manage sales and general day to day running – I enjoy their company, and they have a great boss – so it’s win, win!
We really wanted to get into the large stores so we decided to go straight to the top and approached the CEO of Staples directly by email. We told him of my plan to stock Staples with our Funky Mailing Bags – our fingers were crossed, but of course we never really expecting a response.
But it did come - just two days later we received a very exciting email from Staples in Europe wishing to find out more about the product, requesting samples and prices – and this actually turned into a substantial order! Now, buzzing with excitement, the next few months moved rather fast. We moved from the conservatory into two warehouses, we employed over 20 staff, and we seemed to have built a business overnight. Our Funky Mailing Bags are now available in Staples UK, Germany, Portugal and online across Europe. We are currently speaking to some “Very” large retail stores and have a very exciting product to be released next Christmas. (I've now learnt to plan very far ahead!)
We are now looking at expanding our reach, helping more people to #senditcolourful in 2016! If you’re bored of boring mailing bags buy your pack of funky mailing bags at staples throughout the UK or online in our shop.