Entrepreneurial couple raise a glass to their award winning SME drinks business

By rotide
Created 28/06/2021 - 13:23
Toast in the post.JPG

David and Jane Charnley have worked in the events industry for more than 20 years and set up the online gift company last year, when realising the extended long-term impact COVID-19 would have on their exhibitions and wedding businesses - creating a much-needed lifeline and focus for them in difficult times.

A Toast in the Post [1] allows people to celebrate the special moments in life when they cannot be together by sending a drink of your choice through the post together with a personalised photo message card.

Since launching, the couple have also won two national awards including Dragon's Den star Theo Paphitis' national Small Business Sunday (SBS) award. They were also endorsed by Jaqueline Gold of Ann Summers winning her Women of Wednesday (WOW) award.

David said: "It's been a whirlwind six months, seeing daily orders triple from our original expectations and trying to keep up with demand for people wanting to let loved ones know they are thinking about them in what has been difficult times. 

"It's not been easy - we've gone from running an exhibition and a wedding business for more than two decades, to setting up an e-commerce website in a few months, with all hands on deck sourcing 100 per cent recyclable packaging, the right miniature alcoholic drinks and posting from our storage cupboard in our Blackpool warehouse. But seeing sales grow and winning a national award by a well-renowned Dragon's Den entrepreneur certainly makes all the long nights of packing worth it."

Jane thought of ‘A Toast in the Post' on a car journey two years ago when she was unable to attend a close relative's funeral and thought it would be nice to send the family his favourite drink with a message and a treasured photo of him, to celebrate his life when she couldn't be there in person.

"The idea has been with us ever since," Jane adds. "But with our successful exhibition stand business and my wedding table plan business, the time was never right. With lockdown restrictions delayed neither of our industries are back on their feet yet, so we are so pleased we took the plunge and turned the pandemic into something more positive. Both for us as business owners, but also in being able to help keep the nation connected through sending personal sentiments when people couldn't be together.

"Coming out of lockdown, online sales are very much here to stay and we have also seen a real increase in companies enquiring about corporate gifts, sending hundreds of colleagues ‘A Toast in the Post' to celebrate the successes of their workforce."

Today nearly a quarter of their sales come from corporate clients, who are keen to use local suppliers to make their employees feel special. This includes David Perkins, financial adviser and MD of Wood Craven Perkins based in Lancashire. He said: "The response to this gesture of thanks has been incredible and people have been really impressed with their gifts."

David and Jane Charnley met at university and launched straight into their exhibitions business, LoveExpo, in 1997 building bespoke stands for national and international clients at large trade shows. They invested and moved into new purpose-built premises in Blackpool in March 2020, just as the pandemic hit. 

‘A Toast in the Post went live in November 2020. Every order has the option to have bespoke photos added, as well as personalised greetings and David and Jane are constantly building the selection of drinks available, including those from local artisan producers such as Lytham Gin and internationally renowned Black Powder Gin.

To find out more visit A Toast in the Post  [2]

Source URL: