From the Big Bang, to, well, where we are now!
Welcome to the first of what we are hoping is going to be a regular series of blogs all about gifts, trials, tribulations, trends, and our undivided passion; TheMysteryGiftBox.com
As with all great stories, let us begin at the end (or, to be more precise- the present day!) Our story is one of ups, downs, highs, lows, hard work, dedication, sleepless nights but most importantly; love, patience, nurturing and understanding!
No, this is not a story about bringing up a human child.
This is the story of starting up a business; from idea, to paper, to online, to reality! Nurturing the business through its fledgling baby months. Being patient, as our business slowly found its feet, and loving every second of building the business up to what it is today!
The Acid Test: Our First Christmas!
Our undying passion, excitement and enjoyment for our mystery gift boxes boosted us through our first Christmas, surviving on a few hours sleep, and adrenaline alone. We spent the majority of our first year building and preparing; our acid test as to whether our business would sink or swim was always going to be Christmas 2018.
We are delighted to be able to sit here today in March 2019, and reflect on Christmas as being a resounding success. In fact, for most of December, we didn’t know whether to laugh or cry! Our mystery gift boxes were flying off the shelves, and we were drowning in deliveries, packaged up boxes ready for collection and gift wrapped presents. We were elves living and working in Santa’s workshop, and we loved it!
There was something giddy and child-like about packing our Christmas boxes. For both Ellie and myself, Christmas is undoubtedly our favourite time of the year, and it was a truly magical feeling packing boxes that would be opened on Christmas Day.
Thousands of people around the UK (and hundreds overseas) would be gathered on Christmas morning with their Bucks Fizz, fry up, (and most probably a dozen shots of espresso at the ungodly hour the children woke their families) to open OUR mystery gift boxes.
The joyous experience of giving and receiving; both as exciting as each other! The ‘gifters’ had no idea what they were gifting, the ‘receivers’ had no idea what they were receiving; only we knew that! So, for the time people spent opening our mystery gift boxes, we love to picture the child-like emotions that were conjured amongst fully grown adults, as they experience the magic, intrigue and excitement of gifting a box of pure mystery!
Spreading the joy of gifting: One box at a time!
With TheMysteryGiftBox.com we carry that Christmas magic into everything we do; with gifting occasions happening throughout the year with Birthday’s, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and so on, and of course treating yourself, or someone else, purely because they deserve it, we completely believe that sending out boxes of excitement, is exciting!
Sometimes we have to pinch ourselves; we can’t believe that we have stumbled across a business adventure that is so fulfilling, exciting and enjoyable! People gift for a multitude of different reasons and emotions, and we are the vessel that makes this possible; our boxes can be used as a way to say ‘Congratulations’, ‘Happy Birthday’, ‘Merry Christmas’, ‘You deserve this’, ‘I’m sorry’, or simply ‘I love you!’
The trials and tribulations of starting up a business
As you can probably tell, we love our business, we love the joy that it brings, and we love each and every mystery gift box we send out.
That’s not to say that it’s not all plain-sailing though! Many days are spent tearing our hair out, bountiful amounts of challenges present themselves, and some nights, a glass of wine (or three) may be consumed.
We bought the rights for TheMysteryGiftBox.com in December 2017, and eventually launched the website fully in February 2018.
Prior to this, we sold our boxes on eBay, Etsy and Amazon, but swiftly realised that these platforms were not sustainable for us, and we are pleased to be able to say that, by June 2017, we had removed all of our listings from third party sites. The only place to get yourself a genuine mystery gift box from TMGB, is from TheMysteryGiftBox.com!
In this time, we have had to deal with everything from fraudulent activity, to learning the hard way that candles can ‘go out of date’ – who knew?!
With great power, comes great responsibility!
With running a start-up business as well, it may not sound surprising, and is probably a bit of a cliche, but we really do learn something new each and every day, whether this be extending the capabilities of our ever evolving website, or learning more about the companies that we interact with on a daily basis; our couriers, suppliers and payment processors, for example!
Again, here we have an entire tangent of experiences- both good and bad- for us to draw upon and learn from- and in due course, hopefully pass some top tips on to yourself! When you are a small business, most of the time its not glamorous; you need to scrap for every single little detail!
For example, a £30 missing box will mean absolutely nothing to the likes of Royal Mail or DPD, but to us, and our customers, that missing box is vital. Most of the time, cases like this won’t be ruled in favour of the small business, and you’ll often find that you are passed from pillar to post, with no one really offering to help. When this happens, it’s gloves off, keyboard-tapping, down in the dirt…… Polite and courteous requesting that these enormous companies, work with our smaller selves, and resolve the issue. If a customer is affected by something out of our control, then it is our duty to make things right!
So, who are we, and why did we start up a business?
So, now you are aware of our love of our mystery gift boxes, and what we strive to achieve at TMGB, it is probably a good time to introduce ourselves.
The day to day running of the business is predominantly completed by myself (Ryan) and my ‘partner-in-crime’, amazing Girlfriend- Ellie!
Born in Leeds, but having spent the majority of her life living in Milton Keynes, Ellie is a cat-loving geek, who loves stationery, home wares, everything pink, and Pyrex; all the good things in life. Particularly useful with a camera, Ellie loves the creative aspect of our business- from spending hours getting the right photos, to making each and every box beautifully presented, pretty, and without a bit of wrapping paper, a piece of confetti, or twirl of ribbon out of place!
I, however, am Milton Keynes born and bred- I love it here, and can’t picture myself living anywhere else! Described as an ‘old man’, despite only being mid-20s, I too am a fully-fledged geek. I love stats, spreadsheets and watching football. Nowhere near as creative as Ellie, I would however describe myself as ‘almost creative’.
My first career ambition was to become a graphic designer- that idea was completely shelved, torched, and thrown to the bottom of the sea though when I discovered I couldn’t really draw, and duly failed my Art GCSE. It seems the only person who has ever appreciated my artistic ‘talent’, was my Grandma; I have since always preferred to work with numbers, and have always wanted to start up a business!
Together, we have a huge array of shared interests from travelling to completing Escape Rooms (where you are locked in a room for an hour, and you have to solve clues to escape), playing fantasy football (and thus watching football alongside this), and of course, sharing a bottle of wine (or 2!) in front of a box set, and spending time with our 4 fluffy monstrosities (some of you might identify them as cats, but they are unlike any cats I’ve ever seen before.)
I remember reading once, that most entrepreneurs have had a failed business attempt in the past. Well, our first venture was a tiny little project (using the term ‘business’ here would be a bit of a stretch) whereby we bought and sold kids clothing on eBay. We were entirely inexperienced, but still filled with anticipation and drive- we were going to crack it on our first attempt; this project was going to set us up for life!
Long story short, we have a large box of unsold ‘Despicable Me’ kids t-shirts in the loft. But the lessons we learnt, even on a tiny scale such as this, have been invaluable for us, as we moved into TMGB!
Anyone can start up a business, and if you are reading this thinking it would be a cool idea- we implore you do so! The buzz, the rush of having an order come in is unparalleled. The excitement of having customers buy into a product that you have poured your heart into creating, is immense.
We took the plunge to start up a business, and we haven’t looked back since!