It’s always a pleasure to tell you all about one of my MumBosses and today I’m thrilled to introduce local Mum of two Laura Crabb.
So Laura tell me about your business – where did the idea come from and what do you offer?
When I first started BoxTree, I was a busy professional working full-time and I outsourced nearly every household task from shopping to ironing. I wanted to create a gift service for people like myself, delivering unique gifts that were high quality, beautifully presented and always on time. We set out with an aim to delight all of our customers and soon built a dedicated following of clients who regularly send gifts to celebrate special events or support someone at a difficult time. We’re very proud of our five star customer service rating and we love knowing that we are delivering smiles all across the country.
But as we reached the end of our second year, I began to feel uneasy about our mission. In my own life at home I had been trying to reduce the amount of possessions and general volume of ‘stuff’ we had around us – switching to reusables, recycled products where we could and refusing ‘throwaway’ items.
At the same time we began to explore, as a company, how the work we were doing was affecting our local environment and the planet in general. We wanted to make sure we were minimising our impact as far as we could, and we started looking for a way we could make our gifts more meaningful for both the giver and the receiver.
In 2019 we took the decision to realign our whole product range with a new mission to stock only gifts from brands that could demonstrate a strong ‘purpose’. Either by giving profits back to good causes, or by providing gifts that supported our environmental mission to protect our planet for the future. It’s been a fabulous journey discovering new brands that are designing and making products that really make a difference to peoples’ lives around the world.
It’s an ongoing process and we’re not perfect yet but it certainly feels like we’re on a stronger track now, and I’ve been delighted to see how people have responded to the new ethos. So now (nearly) everything in store is either charitable or eco-friendly and we continue to support a growing number of new British brands to showcase their products to a new audience.
With lots of Mums now moving towards the world of entrepreneurship there’s a danger that some considering the move will think it’s all a walk in the park, a life swanning about drinking flat whites and posting on Instagram. How hard have you had to slog to get your brand up and running?
Building a business in an online environment is hard! You are fighting for airtime in a densely populated virtual space where customers have infinite choices and the big players fight for dominance.
We’ve had to be nimble with our channel strategy and chose to differentiate our offer very quickly against the competition.
By adopting a multi-channel approach we showcase our products through social media, online, offline and in real life. Whilst our website provides an easy way for people to send a gift at the click of a button, we also know the value of being able to put our products in front of people at local shows and events so they can get a real ‘feel’ for the brand.
Putting purpose at the heart of our business has changed the way we conduct ourselves on every level. We now make different choices about everything we source from jewellery to sticky tape! We’ve also had to drop some long-held brands that were very popular but their products, or the way they were made, simply didn’t align with our mission. We’re not perfect by any means – building a sustainable business is definitely a ‘journey’, but by remaining true to our purpose we hope that it gives our customers the confidence to stay with us as we grow.
Talking about ‘journeys’ – what has yours really taught you?
It has to be a quote from my favourite guy (and secret crush) Simon Sinek, whose philosophy I always hold close: ‘People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. The goal is not to do business with everybody who needs what you have, the goal is to do business with people who believe what you believe.’
And going back to all those fellow Mamans thinking about taking the plunge into self employment. Do you have any advice for them?
Imagine your business in three years time – a busy and thriving enterprise at its best. Ask yourself what will it look like, who will it serve, and how will people work within it? Then run your business as if it is that business – from day one. The model becomes the reality.
Laura this advice is invaluable. Thanks so much for letting us all get to know you and Box Tree Gifts! I can’t wait to follow your business as it grows from strength to strength in the coming years I’m sure!