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Me and My Shop: Meet from you to me

This week, in Me and My Shop, we are talking to the wonderfully inspiring Neil Coxon, the owner and founder of from you to me.

from you to me is an international publishing company, making beautiful gift books and journals, that enrich lives, by creating cherished moments and capturing special memories.  I love them all.

from you to me is a family-run company.  Family is at the heart of everything they do, producing award-winning gifts that are loved and shared by families and friends everywhere.

Many of the products can be personalised making them unique and individual.

Based just outside Bath, Neil started from you to me back in 2007 with a handful of journals.  The range is now wide and varied, and is growing all the time.

So many wonderful products, all so meaningful.  Neil has so much passion for everything he creates and so much thought goes into every product.  A truly family centred business.   I can’t wait to share Neil’s story with you.

 

Me and My Shop from you to me. Sharing independent shops online at Love Our Shops UK

Me and My Shop from you to me. Sharing independent shops online at Love Our Shops UK

Neil, the story behind how you came up with the idea for from you to me is wonderful.  Can you share it with us?

Our wonderful business has grown out of sadness, as my father was diagnosed with a terminal illness.  He was a great story teller, although as kids, we often didn’t see the positive side of this! However, his diagnosis made me realise how many of his great stories would be lost forever.

I decided to find a way to capture many of his tales, as well as his feelings about his relationship with me.  I created a book to do this … and with hindsight this was not well designed, but it did the job. So many people loved the idea of what we had done, so that was the incentive to leave the corporate world and create from you to me.

Much learning, laughter and tears later and we are now 12 years old.

 

For those who have not come across your shop before, can you describe what you make and sell?

We started with a small range of guided memory journals.  This has now grown to a range of over 100 titles, available in many different languages too.

All our journals are about capturing real life stories from different stages of life.  Whether that be falling in love, marriage, pregnancy, young children, hobbies, mindfulness or older age.  They all make wonderful gifts to give to others to help them capture their own story.

We have now started publishing gift books for both adults and children under our ‘Forget Me Not Books’ brand. All of these books are the sort of gift you would want to read and cherish forever.

from you to me book range. Sharing independent shops online at Love Our Shops UK

 

You have so many ranges, each one really thoughtful.  How do you come up with all the different products and the perfect prompts for capturing the important memories?

We have a wonderful creative in-house team who design our products, but ideas come from everyone in the company, as well as friends and customers.  It is amazing how a bottle of wine or an evening stroll helps build on small ideas … but we work hard to make sure that all fit with our brand and values.

 

Which are your favourites?

My own favourite has to be ‘Dear Dad, from you to me’, the original version of our lifetime memory journals.  As that is where the business started and that is the version that my Dad has completed for me.  It would definitely be the first thing I grabbed in a house fire!

These original ‘from you to me’ lifetime memory journals gave the business its name and are a wonderful gift with a twist. The gift you buy to give and then get back!

from you to me dear dad journal. Sharing independent shops online at Love Our Shops UK

from you to me dear dad journal.

 

Can you share with us some behind the scenes, where do you spend your days?

We are based in the Old Brewery in Wine Street, in a town called Bradford-on-Avon, in the south-west of England. There does seem to be an alcoholic theme there!

View from the from you to me HQ. Sharing independent shops online at Love Our Shops UK

View from the from you to me HQ.

 

We moved here after two years, when we could afford our first office, and more recently moved to the top floor, as we outgrew our space.

 

In the office From you to me. Sharing independent online shops at Love Our Shops UK

In the office From you to me.

 

The UK head office team is based here, but we have a warehouse nearby, sales agents across the UK and partners in many other countries around the world.  We distribute to Australia, Canada, South Africa and Ireland, and have license partners in Spain and France.  We also manage our own distribution in the USA which holds versions that are ‘translated’ into American!

Warehouse of from you to me. Sharing independent online shops at Love Our Shops UK

Warehouse of from you to me.

 

You have been in business for 12 years now.  What has been the biggest, most proudest moment during that time?

One of the hardest things to do when you grow your own business, is to make the decision to invest in the future.  To write cheques for higher amounts than the mortgage on my first house is still quite a shock.  You have to take great care, but you have to be bold too.

The proudest moment happens everyday when we look at what we have and what we have achieved. That gets me out of bed in the morning!

But also we were recognised by the UK and US Gift Trades with awards like ‘Gift of the Year’ and ‘Best Gift Book’ and that feedback makes me very proud.

 

Lots of people love stationery, journals and notebooks.  To them owning your shop would be a dream.  What do you love most about it?

I am so proud of the products we have created and the team we have. Everyone brings something different to the company and that makes every day different. Sure, we make mistakes, but we quickly correct them.

We sell our journals and books direct to customers but also to the trade, so we work with such a diversity of people who operate in gift shops and book outlets, garden centres or museums, hospices or national retailers … there is never a dull moment.

Overall, we love the feedback that customers give us … and we often have customers saying we make them cry! They cry because of the emotions behind our journals and books.  For us to have an impact like that on people makes us all proud.

 

from you to me team. Sharing independent shops online at Love Our Shops UK

from you to me team.

 

I imagine your life is very busy, but what do you do for a bit of fun?

Leading any business is, literally, a full time job. It does give me the flexibility to spend time with my daughter and family but, as my saying goes, “I choose which 12 hours a day I work!”  It is not quite that bad, but it is hard sometimes to switch off. Especially in the world of mobile devices that can remind you at all times that you have a business query to sort!

But because we have a great team and solid ways we work, I do also find the time to have fun. Fun for me means being with my family and friends, not forgetting Tatty the dog who is often found in our office. You can often find me sailing or playing and watching sport and I have just completed a wine course … so Master of Wine next maybe!

 

from you to me office dog. Sharing independent shops online at Love Our Shops UK

from you to me office dog.

 

From you to me is always growing and creating more lovely products.  What can we look forward to seeing next?

We are busy launching some new titles right now.  It has taken almost a year from inception, to seeing the finished titles on shelves of book and gift shops.

Our new Mindful Collection trio offers a stylish purchase focusing on personal well-being.

This is Me, Forward Thinking and Wonderful Days each offer a different element, from self-exploration and discovery, enhancing and improving happiness in key areas of life, to expressing the positive in each day.

 

Mindfulness books from you to me. Sharing independent shops online at Love Our Shops UK

Mindfulness books from you to me.

 

The trio sit beautifully with the Mandala Sketchbook, by Matt Manson. Mandalas are set to be the next phase to the colouring book phenomenon. Mandala is a Sanskrit word meaning circle or discoid object.  They may be based on, or include, a variety of geometric shapes and patterns and each one is unique.  The sketch books are designed to allow adults and children to design and create their own Mandalas in 8 easy steps.  Once drawn, they can be coloured or painted. The perforated pages allow the illustrations to easily be removed for framing.

 

Mandala sketchbook from you to me. Sharing independent shops online at Love Our Shops UK

Mandala sketchbook from you to me.

 

We are also really proud to have just launched Brian Patten’s latest poetry book The Book of Upside Down Thinking.

Brian came to fame in 1967 as part of the trio of poets alongside Adrian Henri and Roger McGough, who changed the landscape of poetry forever with their anthology ‘The Mersey Sound’. Over fifty years and many books later, Brian Patten is still surprising us. The Book of Upside Down Thinking contains humorous verse that turns our thought process on its head.

The Book of Upside Down Thinking is inspired by ancient stories and jokes that have their origins in 11th century Near and Middle Eastern folk tales. Comprising wise and witty rhymes that rattle the cage of conventional thinking, the collection helps show the world from a different and unexpected perspective.

Upside down thinking from you to me. Sharing independent online shops at Love Our Shops UK

Upside down thinking from you to me.

 

Taking on a lighter topic of capturing moments, the release of the Man and Teen #Milestone Cards are hilarious, bright and contemporary.  Featuring spoof captions such as ‘Today I Put The Toilet Seat Down’ and ‘Today I Didn’t Groan When Asked To Do Something’. A different genre for us but a lot of fun!

 

Milestone cards from you to me. Sharing independent online shops at Love Our Shops UK

Milestone cards from you to me.

 

….thank you

Thank you Neil for sharing so much about from you to me.  Such an inspiring adventure.  I am intrigued by all your new products, they all sound so good.  I love the thought behind them and the care that has gone into their creation.

Such an inspiring story and it shows what hard work, and a very clear vision of what you are trying to bring to the world, can create.

If you want to connect with Neil you will find him on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, he will be pleased to see you there.

I first featured from you to me on my blog post sharing lots of Hygge products.

I hope you have enjoyed reading about Neil’s behind the scenes story.  from you to me is a member of Love Our Shops Uk.

Me and My Shop is a regular feature.  To keep up to date with all future posts and for other shops and shopping inspiration join our Lovely List to receive my emails.  You can easily unsubscribe at any time, plus I never bombard you with lots of emails.

 

Until next time, happy browsing and inspired shopping.

Barbara

 

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