When Gem, the lovely lady behind Stocking Box, got in touch to ask if I’d be interested in receiving the first of her new subscription boxes for review* I jumped at the chance – not just because of my well-documented love of receiving nice stuff in the post in general and subscription boxes in particular; but because of what the project stood for.
Gem describes the ethos of Stocking Box as being “like getting a Christmas stocking in the post every month” (the reason behind the name is not, as Jehane was disappointed to learn, anything to do with its being dedicated to hosiery – although if that’s an idea you’re working on please do sign us up). What sets this box apart though is that it is dedicated to supporting indie designer-makers from across the UK – something that is pretty important to me, but also to the many crowdfunders who helped take Gem over her initial fundraising target to get the project up and running.
Each Stocking Box features a range of items which will include homeware, jewellery, stationery and more, which in some cases will be custom products you won’t be able to get anywhere else. It also includes a mini zine providing you with an introduction to each of the products. The designer-makers that will be included in each month’s box, which is sent out towards the end of that month, are revealed in advance – but not the products, obviously, because what would be the fun in that??
I filmed an unboxing video the night my box arrived – despite being just in the door from the Babes in Toyland reunion show at the Oran Mor – so you can watch that for my raw, unedited reactions, or check out some decidedly tidier product pictures below.
This adorable handmade ceramic brooch by Upsydaisy Craft was probably my favourite item in this month’s box. The brooch is the work of Nat, a Nottingham-based ceramicist who creates her products in the shed at the bottom of her garden. She started the business when she was just 16 years old. She makes a whole range of ceramic biscuits, as well as lots of other lovely things.
I was charmed enough by the gorgeous yellow honeybee print on this card by Paper Pipit, as you can see from the video, before I discovered that it came with a sachet of seeds for the recipient to scatter! It’s such a lovely idea, contained in a product that is both beautiful and functional. I know exactly who I intend to send this to.
The Rainbow Paperie is a Milton Keynes-based home business selling paper garlands in a range of colours and lengths. I’ve yet to open this up to take a look at it properly – because cats – so can’t yet speak to its sturdiness, but I’m tempted to hang it around my desk for a pop of cheerful colour.
Glasgow-based illustrator Claire Barclay seems to be everywhere at the moment – she even designed my lovely blogging pal Charlotte‘s incredible new logo – and for good reason: her quirky, mischievous designs would make even the most hard-hearted person smile; and her designs based on Scottish slang and, um, locally popular beverages are pure dead brilliant, for want of a better term. Her That’ll Brie Nice necklace was clearly chosen to appeal to a broader audience, but my Glasgow Girl necklace is my current favourite.
More biscuits! If Stocking Box is trying to tell me something, I heartily approve. Mac & Ninny make gorgeous prints, bookplates and planners which are printed using vegetable-based inks onto recycled post-consumer waste or FCS-certified stock. I’m a little scared to use these beautiful coasters as they’re made of a soft, spongy card I’m certain to slop tea onto.
This huge fabric keyring by Oxfordshire textile designer Mabel and Bird (Emma Pearson) was one of the first things I pulled out of the box, if I remember correctly – and certainly the first thing I had to look up in the accompanying zine as I couldn’t figure out what it was! It’s designed to be “a keyring that you can always find, even in the bottom of the biggest bag” but, again, looks far too pretty for everyday use. I’m contemplating hanging it up somewhere, assuming I can find the right space – maybe in the entryway.
The final product in this lovely selection was this pretty heart-shaped hanging decoration by Leanne Ball, another Nottingham-based ceramicist who is just getting her studio up and running under the name of Rolling Roses. Leanne’s work is inspired by the lace heritage of Nottingham, which accounts for the gorgeous textures you see in her work.
All in all I thought this was a great selection of products that had clearly been quite lovingly curated, and well worth the £20 on average you can expect to spend on a monthly box (it’s £22 for a one-off purchase, cheaper if you sign up to a longer-term subscription). While I wouldn’t have chosen them all for myself, that’s kind of the point of subscription boxes – and Gem suggests that long-term subscribers will be able to build up a little stock of one-of-a-kind gifts and stationery. Plus, you get to support independent brands – and, hopefully, discover some new favourites in the process.
I think what I enjoyed the most about Stocking Box was the fact that it was very clearly a labour of love – I imagine it would have to be, to track down and coordinate products from so many different suppliers! Everything was beautifully presented, but in a way that made it really obvious that it was done so by hand with lovely finishing touches including the zine, cheery washi tape and old-fashioned parcel string!
June boxes and subscriptions starting in June are available now on the Stocking Box website – and I don’t mind telling you that I’m so enchanted by some of the examples of work by June’s designers on the site that I’m actually paying money for this one. If you fancy joining me, you can get £1 off your first box until the end of the month via UK Originals.
What do you think of Stocking Box?
DISCLAIMER: I was sent a free Stocking Box for review purposes, but was under no obligation to do so positively and all opinions are genuine – as I said in the video, I canny fake instantaneous enthusiasm. See my full disclosure policy.