Inside toucanBox, the kids craft kit subscription that’s raised millions

By Kitty Knowles 4 December 2017

Creativity for kids - zero hassle for you.

We know it’s not healthy for kids to be ‘nose to screen’ all the time.

But how to keep the offspring occupied when smartphone games, YouTube, and Netflix are all so alluring is a challenge in itself. (Especially when you’ve had a knackering week and you’re at your wit’s end).

This is why Virginie Charles-Dear and co-founder Sara Barokas started toucanBox.

It’s a subscription craft kit that drops through the letterbox once a month, making sure the kids have all the arty supplies they need, however busy you might be.

“I saw too often crafting sessions ending in tears,” Charles-Dear told The Memo. “My child would get frustrated because they couldn’t do the project by themselves, or we didn’t have the right materials around the house.”

“I was left feeling like a bad mum for not enjoying our time together,” she exclaims. 

toucanBox’s aim is to remove all that hassle, delivering all the materials needed for a proper hands-on making session, complete with easy child-friendly instructions. A subscription costs just £5.95 a month and will always arrive with the materials to build something, a magazine and stickers to collect.

“As much as we want children to have fun, to be carefree and happy, we also want them to develop into curious and critical thinking people,” Charles-Dear adds.

“Kids feel really proud about what they have built and adults can enjoy the quality time.”

Capitalising on kids creativity

Charles-Dear’s dream might sound like lovey-dovey familial bliss, but that doesn’t mean she’s not shrewd.

toucanBox has grown 200% each year since inception and has shipped over 2m boxes to children in the last 12 months alone.

What’s more, toucanBox is a high stakes business: there’s no tie-in contract for parents, so it only makes money if happy customers stick around.

This is just one reason Charles-Dear’s built the company on the backs of former teachers and educational experts. It’s their insider know-how that’s helped the company win numerous accolades from bigwigs like Mumsnet (most recently, toucanBox has been listed as a Brand of the Future finalist in the 2017 NatWest everywoman Awards).

A present to yourself?

Following its success in the UK – and having raised £3.2m from BGF Ventures last year – toucanBox has gone on to launch in Ireland, France and Italy and the company plans to roll out across Europe and the US next year.

The biggest challenges ahead will be hiring more of ‘the right people’ as the team grows, says Charles-Dear – and as the toucanBox expands its range to serve older children and adults too.

The entrepreneur even eventually envisions opening stores where people will be able to buy crafting products, learn new skills in workshops or have kids’ birthday parties.

“People love crafting because it is one of those little moments in life when they can be completely absorbed by an activity and nothing else seems to matter,” she says.

“Our dream is to be the biggest craft company in the world.”

Could toucanBox be the Christmas gift that just keeps on giving?