This is part of uOpen’s ‘Meet The Maker’ interview series - your exclusive opportunity to get to know the real people and personalities behind the subscription boxes you know and love, and the ones you will soon come to!
Discover the fascinating stories behind how your favourite subscriptions originally came to be, the marvellous people involved in lovingly creating and curating each box, plus a few ‘behind the scenes’ snaps.
What sparked your decision to start up your box and how did you get started?
I initially gave up my full-time job working at WaterAid in London two years ago, to spend more time with my young children and pursue my passion for gardening. I enrolled on a Royal Horticultural Society course and was originally intending to start a gardening business.
The idea of a children's gardening and nature crafts box came to me during the first few months, I was subscribing to some indoor craft activity boxes for my children and I thought they were fantastic - having everything you need to sit down, make something and enjoy quality time with your child is invaluable, especially when both parents are working.
I looked around and was surprised that no similar activity boxes were catering to gardening and the outdoors for kids. So I set up Mud & Bloom hoping to inspire families to get their children outdoors more and connected to nature.
Describe your box in three words?
Seasonal, fun, calming.
Where did your box name come from?
I chose the name Mud & Bloom, as I think it both represents the planting activities: planting seeds in the earth, (mud), and then watching them flower (bloom). I also wanted the word bloom, as it also signifies a child blooming, as a consequence of being closer to nature, which I think really happens!
Are you a creator or curator?
What was your most popular box?
I've had lots of great feedback after all my boxes. The spring months were particularly popular for the planting activities, and a lot of subscribers have shared photos with me of their giant sunflowers and enormous pumpkins that they grew with their Mud & Bloom seeds!
The nature craft activities have also been very popular; there are always at least two in a box. Some of the activities I've had exceptionally positive feedback on have included: making garden jam jar lanterns in July's box, making butterfly petal pictures in August's box and most recently making clay leaf tiles in October's box.
How many people are involved with producing your subscription box?
Currently, I'm the only full-time member of staff, but I'm about to employ someone else to help out with marketing and admin.
I also have people working on a freelance basis, including qualified teachers helping to create the activities, an illustrator and designer helping to put together the monthly cards, and several people helping to prepare and pack the contents of the boxes each month.
My partner is also one of the directors, and he's excellent with finances, so he's been supporting in that area.
Which subscription boxes do you subscribe to?
I currently get a Riverford Organic Veg & Fruit Box.
Name a celebrity subscriber you’d love to have as a customer?
I've heard that Prince William and Kate Middleton take an interest in Montessori and outdoor education, and their oldest two children would be the perfect age for a Mud & Bloom box!
If you could put anything in your box, with money or scarcity no object, what would it be?
I want my boxes to be accessible to people without gardens, so I provide organic, peat-free compost pellets in each box to enable anyone to grow the seeds regardless of what space they have.
However, I'd love to be able to provide some outdoor space for all children, as it's so beneficial in so many ways that children have close contact with nature!
What do you love about uOpen?
It's great to have a platform that showcases the variety of UK subscriptions boxes out there!
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Mud & Bloom | Meet The Maker
This week we had the pleasure of speaking with Anja Ffrench, the founder of children's gardening and nature crafts subscription box - Mud & Bloom. Designed for three to eight-year-olds, Mud & Bloom delivers four seasonal activities each month along with instructions, nature news and quizzes to help teach kids about gardening, seasons, nature, plants, insects and much more!
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