When I first decided I wanted to have my own exclusive mug ranges for PostTea, I thought it’d be pretty easy. License some designs from a designer, find a mug company, get them printed, done. It sounds simple, right? But I had a couple of big requirements from my mugs:
- That the china I was using was English china, preferably fine bone china, and make in Stoke, and
- I wanted to be able to personalise each and every mug, if needed.
Let’s deal with No.1 first…
Despite months of googling, searching on Etsy and speaking to other designers, I could only find TWO companies in the U.K that print on British made fine bone china mugs. TWO*. Whatever happened to Britain’s pottery heritage? And one company wanted around £8.00 for each mug, meaning that my entire original budget for each PostTea box would be taken up by one mug. £8.00!!! Second problem was that they other company had a minimum order of 252, and a lead time on that number of 6-8 weeks and I was looking at having 10+ designs made – I’ll leave that final calculations on money and time to you…
(* Quickly – there are lots of companies that claim they print on British china, and lots of designers/artists who pretend that their mugs are ‘made in Britain’, when really they’re just designed and finished here. If you’re looking to get mugs printed and someone quotes you less than £5.00 each then it’s almost definitely Chinese China, not European, and definitely not British.)
PostTea has always been about sending a persona message, and creating an experience that lasts past that first opening of your gift box. That’s why you get more than one portion of tea, why you get a mug and mug hug – you get a last memento, a real gift, not just something consumable. But the problem with mugs is that people have a favourite mug or cup, and only breaking that cup/mug will get someone to use a different one. So we had to make our PostTea mugs unique, a mug that wouldn’t end up being pushed to the back of the cupboard after one use, never to be seen again. The ability to be able to personalise each design was therefore paramount.
Having failed miserably on No.1, British-made china, it was even more important that No.2 came through, and it has done! With the mugs now sourced from Europe I have them printed at home, using my new mug press. Don’t get me wrong, the equipment was not cheap, but it means that I can now print any image, any words, any sentiment onto the side of a mug, and make each mug special. It also means that I have a design isn’t popular I can just stop making it, I don’t have to order in large quantities and everything is in my control.
Obviously this is more of a time drain than paying someone to do it for me, but what I lose in time I gain in control, and eventually (hopefully!) profit.
PostTea will launch with three mug ranges:
‘Quotea-d’ – a range of mugs featuring quotes about tea. We currently have five of these ready to sell, with three more in the works. The text is only featured on one side of the mug, so a personal message can be printed on the other side of the mug, if wanted.
Senteament – a range of mugs expressing sentiments and occasions, e.g. birthdays, celebrations, thank yous, etc. This can be personalised, by colour or text for an additional charge.
I am still hoping to partner up with designers to launch exclusive ranges – perhaps designers who are looking to expand their product range without needing to go through the same mug rigamarole I did!
PostTea Mugs will be available online this week, from http://www.posttea.co – also coming soon to Etsy!