The Pandemic and the Mess Box. A success story.
Although in 2017 our business was rapidly expanding across the UK through our franchise network, demand still outpaced us as parents everywhere were asking for the Mess Around experience in their hometown. We wanted children from all corners of the UK to experience the magic of Mess Around, so we donned our thinking caps and got to work. At the time, the subscription box market was very popular in the US and was slowly but steadily emerging in the UK and we wanted to be part of this new exciting market. We spotted a potential niche for a sensory, messy play subscription box and felt that we were in the best position to fill that gap as the leading provider of messy play in the UK. So we set about developing the concept of a sensory, arts and crafts, messy play box that could be delivered directly to customers doorsteps across the UK.
We wanted a box that could be delivered safely via the postal system without being crushed, but also big enough to house all our materials and activities. We looked at lots of prototypes and got ourselves clued up on how the printing process would work and what the constraints would be in order to get the boxes ready to be produced.
We started the hunt for a supplier and found one in Coventry Ozbox We organised a visit and started the process of scoping out the perfect box. Needless to say I went home with lots of boxes in the boot of my car to experiment with.
Over the years we have invested heavily in our brand, creating our own themes for events, design work to support those themes, and in our graphical characters who depict our Messy Star Competition winners. Dirk and I wanted a box that gave the wow factor when it landed on our customers doorstep and so we pulled out our existing event posters, a pair of scissors and a stick of glue and set about designing the box.
The box was born!
When we were happy, we sent our concept art off to our graphic designer who set to work turning our ideas into reality. We were absolutely delighted with the end result.
After having put so much effort into our creation, we didn’t want to see our boxes tossed into the recycling bin as soon as it was empty so we started work on the Mess Box’s multifunctionality. Off the bat, our design allows children to personalise their box by writing their name in the centre and has enough white space to allow them to colour in the box and decorate their own Miss and Master Mess on the back. Hundreds of children across the country have enjoyed colouring their boxes but we didn’t stop there. We went BIGGER!. We wanted the box to be part of the activities, so we set about creating a 3D activity where the box itself formed a major activity. Nothing went to waste.
What’s inside the Box?
Developing the activities that would be included in the box was the easy part. Over the years of hosting events, we are often asked question like: How do you dye your rice? How do you make cloud dough? How do I make that colour spaghetti? So we knew wanted to include an element of education for parents, so they could learn how to make a material over and over again for their children.
Arts and crafts activities in our Create & Make Corner had always been a big hit at our events. Our themes are original and very popular, so we wanted to ensure that our boxes were also an extension of our programme. We looked at all four elements and developed our Mess Boxes on our themes, creating the ultimate messy play, arts and craft box. Once again, when we were happy, we sent our ideas over to our website developer who took all our concepts, ideas and designs and started work on designing our ecommerce website, to showcase our products and to provide a full customer experience.
The big day arrived and the boxes were delivered to our home and we we’re ready to launch!
In September 2017 we launched with our SPOOKTACULAR Mess Box. Crammed full to bursting with messy play activities, creative ideas, step by step guides, recipes, props, surprises and the instructions on how to turn the box into an amazing haunted castle! Hundreds of boxes were shipped across the UK; we were off to a flying start.
Each month we developed new Mess Boxes from Dinosaur Detectives, Rumble in the Jungle through to Galactic Mess. We have a whole range of Mess Boxes, which attracted sponsors who wanted to include their products in our boxes such as Crazy Soap, Naturelly, Happy Monkey Smoothies and we were delighted to form partnerships with a number of national businesses.
The Mess Box Today
Our Mess Box programme has continued to grow in the last two years, but when the UK went into National lockdown in March we set about creating a range of Mess Boxes that could cater for all budgets. The Mess Box business exploded and demand was high as the nation looked at how they could entertain and occupy children at home.
As the nation eased out of lockdown we were keen to support our leaders at a local level to generate revenue; not having been able to work since March was hard on the team. Building on the success of the Mess Box, the team set about creating the Mess Kit.
Our leaders recognised that by July, parents were feeling the strain of home schooling and having to entertain their children all day at home whilst running a household and a career, and they wanted activities that were easy to set up, but also interesting enough to keep their children engaged.
Our leader (Alanna) from Mess Around South Yorkshire rose to the challenge and lead the way creating our first Mess Kit and our next baby, The Marvellous Mess Kit was born; a ready to use kit which included a range of materials with play idea instructions delivered straight to your doorstep. No fuss, just mess!
The Mess Kits went down a storm with parents across the UK and we have sold thousands. They have been so popular that we have now developed a fantastic range of kits which we have continued to develop them.
Out of the Mess Box programme we have now been able to add Mess Kits to the family and now have a fantastic blended programme of boxes being delivered nationally across the UK via HQ, and of course our Mess Around leaders also have the opportunity to delivery Mess Kits across their territory.
A win-win for the business.
We have been absolutely delighted with the response that we have had for our Mess Kits, so much so that we have introduced a licence to sell Mess Kits as part of our franchise programme and we are intending to launch a Mess Kit Ambassador home working opportunity in 2021 offering flexible working opportunity for anybody that loves our products the way we do.
Get in touch to discover the next steps to your owning your own business and discover more about how we can support you to succeed. Download our prospectus here.
Don’t hesitate to get in touch or join us on our Mess Around journey to discover more.