Send a little love in the post - Gift boxes from Berkshire

PUBLISHED: 00:00 07 May 2020

You can Build a Box for any occasion

You can Build a Box for any occasion


Let your family and friends know you’re thinking about them with these gorgeous gift boxes, born in Berkshire

Helen OCallaghan and her Brown Paper PackagesHelen OCallaghan and her Brown Paper Packages

In these extraordinary times, we may not be able to be with a loved one on their birthday, or be there to give them a hug when they’re feeling down. But there’s a good alternative: you can send a little love through the post with a curated gift box

to let someone special know you’re thinking about them. Two wonderful Berkshire businesses are helping you to do this...

Helen O’Callaghan lives in Cookham with her husband, Dan, and children, Alfie and Laila. She says: “We have been here for around eight years now and love the area. It’s lovely to be able to walk out of our front door to the river on a Sunday morning, and we are spoilt for choice for family activities, restaurants and parks.”

Helen previously worked as a clothing buyer and product manager. “Both my parents were self-employed and I was always drawn to that route yet resisted the inner entrepreneur in me for some time,” she says. “But when Laila was a baby, my younger brother, who suffers from Crohn’s disease, was very unwell and I wanted to send him something meaningful that would offer him something positive to do while he was in hospital. Meanwhile, some of my close friends were going through really difficult times.

Emma Batcheler, founder of Hooves & LoveEmma Batcheler, founder of Hooves & Love

“I decided to create a brand that could show support and bring something positive during those times when you can’t be there in person. Little did I know how relevant that would be today.”

Brown Paper Packages was born, and now Helen sells gifts for men, women and children. “The look and feel of our gift range is really important to me as a buyer,” she says. “Our gift boxes and packages are not only a beautiful treat, they offer positive benefits and all our products focus on bringing wellbeing and maintaining good health, especially mental health.

“I launched ‘Build a Box’ in December 2019 and have seen a great response. People build boxes for all occasions, such as birthday presents, get well presents, thank you presents, or just to let someone know they are thinking of them when life feels tough. You can select journals, activity and puzzle books to keep you off your phone, and lovely wellbeing brands and products such as self-heating face and eye masks, aromatherapy balms and candles, and health foods, such as trail mixes, protein bars and vegan chocolate.”

Helen has seen a huge increase in sales following the recent isolation of families and loved ones. “The sentiments behind people sending our boxes are beautiful, and some of the gift card messages have been known to bring a tear or two. We spent a long time creating our brand with a local designer and have had feedback that receiving one of our gift boxes makes you feel warm and fuzzy inside!” Helen says.

Gorgeous grooming giftsGorgeous grooming gifts

“When you can’t be there in person, we want to be the retailer that people turn to, to hand-wrap, pack and deliver a thoughtful gift to show someone you care.”

Emma Batcheler is another entrepreneur taking the gifting market by the reins. She is founder of equestrian gift box company Hooves & Love and lives in Finchampstead in Wokingham with her husband, two children, three stepchildren, three horses, a dog and hamsters!

“We live in a lovely area – it’s rural, but within a 15-minute drive we can be in Windsor or Reading. We especially love California Country Park,” she says.

Emma, a former project manager, had the idea for her business when she took a short career break to have children. “I’m horse-mad – I have been my whole life. I also really like shopping and buying people gifts!” she says. “I was always creating my own gift boxes for people. It’s more personal as it shows you’ve really thought about them and created something unique. Turning this passion into a business is the best work decision I’ve ever made.”

Hooves & Love aims to help people looking for a gift for a horse or countryside-obsessed person find the perfect present.

Emma has personally selected, tried and tested the products that she hand-packs into themed boxes. The focus is on artisan British brands (including The Dartmoor Soap Company, where profits go to the Dartmoor Pony Society; Evemy & Evemy; Hiho Silver and Frank & Grace) that you won’t find in high-street shops, and there are boxes for adults and children with one thing in common: a love of horses!

The themed boxes include ‘Relax and Pamper’, which contains bath truffles, bodywash, a scented candle, a customisable grooming kit in ‘Ultimate Finish’ and the combination of bracelet and clutch bag in ‘Snaffle & Style’.

“I release new boxes throughout the year, with fresh and exciting new products. Customers can also create their own gift box, picking from the selection of products on offer,” says Emma.

Hooves & Love has inspired good feedback so far, especially when Emma attends events, such as the annual SAFE horse charity summer event in Wokingham,

or the Horse of the Year Show. “People love to feel, touch and smell the products,” says Emma. “And I love to tell people all about them. I’m all about promoting small businesses.”

So are we, so give these two a try when you next want to let someone know you care.;

Comments have been disabled on this article.

Latest from the Berkshire Life