If you read this blog you’ll know I am passionate about supporting local businesses, and have a weak spot both for subscription boxes and for signing up onto things via Instagram at 3am. So, when I saw that one of my favourite local small businesses, For the Love of The North (I have blogged about both their Whitley Bay and Newcastle shops) were doing a ‘mystery box’ offer I decided to try it.
For a very reasonable price (the next one is priced at a very reasonable £11 quid, I think mine was about the same), you get a box that includes cards, prints and souvenirs (the next box is billed to contain a card, pin badge – they do a fab range at the shop – and a ‘surprise item’) and you get the pleasure of knowing you are supporting locally based artists and businesses. (Also, FTLOTN – as us insiders call them – are donating 5% of its ‘Hyem’ range to the much-needed charity People’s Kitchen Newcastle, which supports the city’s homeless population, so you can shop guilt-free).
Mine arrived when I was in Lisbon (I was pleased to see the box was slim enough to go through the letter box) and it was a gorgeous wee thing. Prepared with obvious care, each item in the box is individually wrapped in brown paper and string, and each hand-written tag has a local tourist tip on it, giving an insiders’ guide to the region.
This month’s goodies were themed around the word ‘hyem’ (Geordie for ‘home’) and the box contained two greetings cards by Ebony Newton, an Aissa Tyley pin badge, and Nessie Wise embroidery hoops. (Obviously the cards might not be particularly useful unless you know someone who is moving house, or feels particularly homesick – I’m hoping future boxes will be more generic, as one of the reasons I quit my Papergang subscription was they kept including such odd cards that literally couldn’t ever think of anyone to send them to, and I say this as someone who sends dozens of greeting cards a year!)
But overall, this is a great start to what I hope is an ongoing venture. It has much more of a personal touch that most subscription boxes and looks far more expensive than it is – so would make a great gift, especially to your expat Geordie friends. The next one isn’t out till January so not an option for Christmas – though get on down to their shops / online for a fab array of Christmas decorations and gifts, especially if you have friends at the intersection of geeky and Northern (which is where I live), as they do a fab range of goodies that reference Star Wars, Doctor Who etc. (I bought my Angel of the North Cyberman from them ages ago, and I still love him: only my aversion to dusting is stopping me buying all the others in that range. I also got my pin badge, shown, there.) (In another move in their favour, the shop often stocks Pride themed goodies, so you can show your LGBTQ friends some Northern love and support local LGBTQ causes at the same time.)
You can buy online here or visit one of their shops (sign up to the mailing list to get 10% off your first order). What are you waiting for? Get buying!
(Reminder: I don’t do paid posts, so this is an independent testimonial for a brand I just happen to genuinely love. I bought my own mystery box and other products and have no relationship with the shop or brand.)
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Newcastle-based rom-com with a dash of Northern charm: The Bridesmaid Blues
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If you want to read something a bit darker, I just re-released by earlier novel Doll and my short stories No Love is This.
[…] Mend Market – which happens monthly in Grainger Market – and shopped at indie-owned stores like For the Love of the North. While this will have to be balanced with my commitment to buying less (I’m trying to be more […]