Matthew Bull is the founder of The Happy Book Club, a company that he launched in June 2016 soon after his little girl was born.
Here, he tells us more about that journey…
When did you launch the brand and what was the reason behind it?
I had just stepped down as a Head of Maths at a nearby school because working until 10pm most nights whilst being there for my new daughter was not very sustainable. So we needed a plan B. My wife is also a trained Primary School teacher so we thought we could work on something together.
We absolutely loved (and still do) reading to our daughter every day and, given our passion for books, the educational importance of them, and the fact that subscription packages are on the rise, The Happy Book Club seemed almost inevitable!
It was important to us that what we did made a difference. We remain dedicated to providing the utmost quality – we’re not here to make a quick buck and we really feel that we can help families discover the best, most beautiful books. If we can create some memories then that’s a win for us.
Whats your background?
I still work as a Maths teacher and my wife now works in a local play centre for little ones. The most important background information, I suppose, is that we had a daughter! Without her The Happy Book Club wouldn’t have existed. Every single book that gets sent out gets the toddler-approval-test and through our relationship with her we see how books inflame her imagination and encourage her creativity.
How many people are involved in the company and what are their roles?
Just me and my wife. We do everything from the packaging, the ordering, the website and the marketing. It’s very tiring but very rewarding!
If you could start over with the business, would you do anything differently?
After our first month’s book package, we started introducing free gifts or crafts. We should have done this from day one because our customers love this aspect! We’re always on the lookout to improve all the time though so if you ask me again in 6 months I might give a different answer!
What is the hardest challenge you have faced since you started the company?
Marketing either costs a lot of time or a lot of money and we didn’t have much of either! So that is, and continues to be, quite tough! We just focus on making our product excellent. Eventually, we figured, if the packages are truly wonderful, the product will advertise itself!
Tell us one fact about you that people wouldn’t know?
Well as we’re quite new, I suspect most people won’t know anything about us. How about my favourite picture book? The Bear and the Piano.
2018 is almost here, where do you plan on taking the brand?
We want to build our online community and make our book club feel more ‘Clubby’! We’ll be pairing up with bloggers each month, giving away lots more prizes and encouraging much more feedback and photos from our customers!
To date, what has been the highlight since launching?
The feedback and the re-subscriptions has been really encouraging! Hearing about children loving the books and activities we send them makes all the late nights worthwhile! If I could suggest anything to anyone who wants to start up a business, it would be to make sure you find the work rewarding. That’s motivation enough.
Which city do you feel most at home in, London, Paris or New York?
We don’t live in London but we drove there last week to show our little one the Christmas lights… So yeah… London.
Best thing about London to you?
That’s a loaded question! I guess I’d have to go with the incredible 24 hour bagel place on Brick Lane
Favourite love song?
Sao Paolo by The Guillemots.
Most memorable piece of advice given to you?
When starting the book club, an entrepreneur wrote ‘You could have the best thing since sliced bread, but if no one knows about it, no one’s buying it.’ Essentially, marketing is important!
You shouldn’t feel guilty about any pleasure. Unless you took pleasure in voting for Brexit.
If you could spent 24 hours in anywhere in the world, where would it be?
As long as my family are there, I’d be happy (he says knowing that his wife will be reading this at some point). Also, Iceland.
In future, how do you plan on expanding the company?
We want to make the best books available for everyone so we hope to introduce a pre-loved book club, where used books are sent out. Apart from that, who knows? Book parties, book shop, book… café? Let’s roll with the punches.
Find out more…
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