Why and when did you set up your business?
I set up The Book Resort in October 2019. My background is in IT and I had moved into the e-commerce side and really enjoyed it. I loved reading and chocolate and had heard of subscription boxes in the UK and US. I was intrigued by the concept and wondered if anyone in Ireland might like a nice box with a good book and some chocolate delivered to them every month. I started working on it by myself in my spare time, by first creating social media accounts and a very simple website. We now have two full-time and two part-time staff, including my two sons, a new workshop, our first van and a much better website.
How does it work?
We have a couple of options on the website, as we like to make things as easy as possible. Customers can subscribe and we will send them a lovely box every month with a new book, a bar of chocolate and a little gift, or they can choose a once-off gift box. We have over 30 gift boxes on the website to choose from. Customers also have the option of creating their own gift box and can choose from over 100 products on the website. All of our products are Irish, everything is from an Irish supplier, even our boxes are made in Dublin and our cards are designed by a young artist in Kilkenny and printed in Waterford. We have various old Irish sayings on the outside of our boxes such as "Is maith an scéalaí an aimsir", which means time is a good storyteller and "Doras feasa fiafraí", which means the door to wisdom is to ask questions. We change these every time we have a new run of boxes printed.
How do you choose the books for the subscription boxes?
When people subscribe or purchase a once-off box, they choose a genre (bestseller, literary, thriller, romance, fantasy etc) so we choose different books every month for each genre. We work with publishers, who kindly send us advance copies of books, which we read, and we read other book reviews and see what book bloggers think too.
What other Irish craft makers do you work with to create the boxes?
We work with Dublin Herbalists, Green Angel, Jo Browne, Milís, Inis, Field Day, Baressentials, Tomitago, Jane Darcy, Paperlove, Millbee, Dedanu, Skelligs, Brona, Lir, Áine, Mella’s Fudge, Hassetts Bakery, Chocolate Garden, Buioch…I could keep going. As everything in our boxes is Irish, this means that every sale has a domino effect on multiple Irish businesses.
What is the best book you have read so far this year?
I received Better off dead by Lee Child as a Christmas present and it was very good. Lee Child is my favourite author so I am a bit biased, but he writes great books. I finally read American Dirt last year and that is a fantastic read too.
What is it about your business that brings you joy?
Our boxes make people very happy, so that brings me joy daily. I love going to work and I am so lucky and grateful to be doing something I enjoy. I have the best customers ever, wonderful suppliers, get to read all the books I want and our tiny team works really well together.
What are your hopes for your business for 2022?
We have big plans this year as we want to attract more corporate customers and look at export markets. We are always trying new products and suppliers too.
What is the best piece of advice you would give a start-up business?
Get your product out there. People love new stuff, so send your product to influencers, journalists, radio hosts... get people talking about it. And get ready to learn; listen to podcasts, read business books, talk to other people in business to learn from them. From a personal viewpoint, starting my own business has been one of the best things I have ever done and I highly recommend it, as the possibilities are endless.
Book subscription gift boxes start at €33 a month. For further information, visit www.thebookresort.ie