Robbie Allen tells Capital Magazine about his idea to keep local businesses thriving throughout lockdown.
Can you provide us a bit of background information about yourself?
My name is Robbie Allen, I’m 31 and I live in Edinburgh. Before lockdown hit, I was working with a number of small businesses consulting with them on digital marketing. COVID-19 forced many of these businesses to stop spending money on marketing and advertising and as a result, 80 per cent of my income was put on hold indefinitely.
Can you tell us a little bit more about your new business venture?
The Thriving Box Co have created gift boxes that directly impact and support small businesses. Even before COVID-19 many small businesses struggled to get their amazing products to market and find new customers. Forced shop closures have resulted in local businesses left wondering what the rest of the year is going to look like.
We are selling gift boxes that enable our local partners to move their products. These small businesses are creating incredible things like craft coffee, candles, tea towels, tote bags, preserves and snacks. They want to be able to sell them to continue to grow and sustain their company and livelihood during this pandemic.
We have partnered with over 75 amazing local businesses throughout the UK, in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Bristol and Manchester. The Thriving Box Co is taking these high-quality products and handling all the logistics and the e-commerce side of things.
How did you come up with the new idea?
From working with many local businesses over the last eight years as a marketing consultant I saw first-hand the challenges facing consumers and local businesses in a broken and often biased supply chain. I had wanted to build a brand dedicated to making local products available on a national scale for some time, and COVID-19 made me stand up and take action.
How are you adhering to social distancing measures?
The first week after launching we were able to pack the gift boxes in our flat. However, since then we have been shipping out over 300 gift boxes each week, as well as receiving orders from a number of corporate clients that are looking to help support local businesses during this time.
We have moved into an events space/warehouse situated on the outskirts of Edinburgh. We have staggered shifts in place for our team of three packers, and provide them with PPE equipment – their safety was a huge priority for us. Our local delivery drivers have been briefed on contactless delivery, so our customers stay safe too.
What has response been like?
When I first launched in Edinburgh (our first city) my goal was to sell 100 boxes; in our first week we managed to sell over 150! We’ve now sold over 2,000 Keep Edinburgh Thriving boxes (2,011 to be exact), generating over £55,000 in revenue for 47 local Edinburgh businesses in only six weeks. We’ve now also launched in Bristol and Manchester, and are already on course to match, if not better, the success of Edinburgh and Glasgow.
What are your plans post lockdown?
Like everyone, I am looking forward to when we get back to life as we once knew it. However, I think it is important that we take a phased approach to coming out of lockdown. Our goal for The Thriving Box Co is to become the “home of local”, a marketplace where local independent businesses all over the UK can sell and be a part of our gift boxing service.
By the time we are 10 weeks old we will be working with local businesses in 10 cities including Newcastle, Cardiff, Aberdeen and Leeds.
We already have plans to diversify our core offering, and one area we are excited about helping even more is the hospitality industry as, unfortunately, our beloved bars and restaurants will be the last ones back to “normal”.
For more information visit www.thrivingboxco.com