A Business Built at the School Gates










In 2010 a school competition was held 'HOW MUCH CAN YOU FIT IN A MATCHBOX'. Hayley’s son was not enthused by idea, but Hayley entered for him and came up with all sorts of objects that not only fitted in the matchbox, but fulfilled a concept too, for example a grain of rice and a coriander seed which she labelled ‘curry takeaway’ and a picture of the Mona Lisa and Van Gogh’s Sunflowers- ‘an art gallery’.Cutouts of Mona lisa, scream curry seed and rice with Tate modern and a curry takeaway


She did not win the competition, and most people thought it was mad, but one other person at the school totally got it - Emma.


Three years later, Emma, inspired by the matchboxes, thought the concept could be the basis for a business and for nine months she and Hayley beavered away researching products, developing ideas and learning how to run an ecommerce company. 

Emma and hayley with new website on screen

They launched in July 2013 with a fantastic website and over 6,000 products. In the first week they sold exactly ten, half of those to people they knew. Not the big hit they were hoping for. 

So they signed up for craft fairs and joined notonthehightstreet.com, but sales went down if anything.

Emma and Hayley at a craft fair

Then in October 2013, just before half term, for reasons still not quite understood by all parties concerned sales jumped from 1 or 2/day to over 500/day within a couple of weeks.

Word got round at the school that the company was growing and parents were offering to help as Emma and Hayley struggled to keep up with orders.

Some days it was touch and go whether all the post would make it out of Emma's kitchen before the school pick up.

lots of sacks in kitchen

By the end of November the company had to stop sales due to too much demand and Christmas was cancelled. 

Emma's youngest son was unceremoniously moved out of his bedroom to make room for jiffy envelopes,
Hayley's 85 year old mother-in-law was brought out of retirement to stamp hundreds of envelopes every day. Emma's longer suffering husband did sales projections and Hayley's long suffering partner answered hundreds of enquiries demanding to know where their matchboxes were. It was chaos. 

three helpers with empty packing boxes

However, when Christmas was over, and Emma and Hayley were looking forward to a well deserved rest, notonthehighstreet.com called with the surprising news that the company was nominated for an award for the best customer service 2013. The January sale was on, and it was back to business. 

Over the last 10 years Marvling Bros Ltd has gone from strength to strength and the range continues to develop and grow.

Emma and Hayley are still waiting for that well deserved rest...

Emma and hayley selling matchboxes at trade fair