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A dragon woven patch with the words Tales from the Trunk written on it.

How ‘Tales From The Trunk’ Enhanced Their Subscription Service With Custom Merch

'Tales from the Trunk', founded by Sam Collins, is a subscription-based storytelling service for kids that uses the exceptional creative writing abilities of Sam, the incredible illustrations of his partner, Tess, and charming rustic branding to deliver a wholesome, hand-crafted experience that feels personal to the children.

Subscribers receive letters recounting the adventures of the main character, Perse, and her dragon friend, Englebert, through myths and historical events. Sam's interactive service encourages subscribers to send their own tales on provided postcards, blending creativity with nostalgia.

How ‘Tales From The Trunk’ Enhanced Their Subscription Service With Custom Merch

Using Custom Merchandise to Enhance Customer Experience

Sam collaborated with us to create custom woven patches featuring Englebert the Dragon and the "Tales From The Trunk" logo to engage subscribers further, enhance the storytelling experience, and add a tangible, collectible element to the service.

Sam's approach demonstrates how businesses can use custom merch to strengthen brand loyalty and create a more immersive customer experience.

We caught up with Sam for a quick chat about Tales from the Trunk and his Englebert patches.

How ‘Tales From The Trunk’ Enhanced Their Subscription Service With Custom Merch

What inspired you to start Tales from the Trunk, and how did you develop the concept?

"I wanted to find and explore a new way of storytelling that also drew on my love of myths and legends. I already have my 'What You May Have Mythed!'  podcast, but where that is retellings of the stories, Tales from the Trunk sends fictional characters into those stories, taking part and influencing events. Sending letters is such a rare thing nowadays, and more often than not, the only post that comes through doors is a bill or a letter from the bank.

We realised that the idea of receiving an actual letter in the post that tells you a story could appeal to so many people. In the digital age, there is a lack of tangible objects, especially for children and young people, so I wanted to create something that could encourage and inspire young readers in a way that captured the magic, wonder, and imagination that storytelling can offer. The idea that they should be letters sent out came about while at a restaurant.

Tess and I sat for a good couple of hours, asked the waitress for a pen and piece of paper from her pad, and developed the entire thing over dinner:

  • The letters and how they work.
  • The characters (who they were, their background, how they met).
  • The first few stories.

I still have that piece of paper." 

Can you describe your process for creating the stories and ensuring they engage your audience?

"I always start with a hook, something to get into the story, and they could be anything: A hard, wooden stick that was once a Masai elephant stick was the inspiration for the knobbly stick of The Hob. A Stephen Fry quote from 'Heroes' was the inspiration for Perse and Englebert assisting Heracles in the final of his Twelve Labours. 

To keep audiences engaged, I have found that it is important to make the letters entertaining while maintaining a certain level of unpredictability regarding where the story is going to end up. If I know what is going to happen, or if the story is predictable, then I will enjoy it less.

Making them unpredictable adds to the drama and, for me, the enjoyability of a story. But I think the most important thing is making the letters accessible to everyone who wants to read them. The stories are simple yet exciting (hopefully), and they're not too long, so for those who don't read as well as others, there is a sense of achievement at the end." 

What strategies have you found most effective in growing and retaining your subscriber base?

"We are still a young business, having only been in operation since January, but so far, engagement online and in person at festivals and events has been crucial for people to understand Tales from the Trunk, how it works, and get excited about the concept."

How have the custom woven patches contributed to your brand's identity and subscriber engagement?

"They capture the character of Englebert and reflect the original illustrations and offer subscribers a way to take a little of the Tales from the Trunk magic home with them on a t-shirt." 

What feedback have you received from subscribers about your patches?

"They were greatly received at our most recent festival, and Tess and I had many compliments on our t-shirts."

What was your experience working with us, and would you recommend our services to other businesses?

"It was fantastic. Will was very patient with us and offered his expertise to ensure the patch captured the illustration. We went back and forth a few times, tweaking little things here and there before honing in on our final patch. He was very patient with us throughout the process and would definitely recommend Made by Cooper to other businesses looking for custom patches."

What advice would you give to other subscription-based businesses looking to incorporate custom merch into their offerings?

"Personalised merchandise offers an opportunity to explore the characters we have created within the stories and gives subscribers or potential subscribers something to take home with them. It not only reminds them of the brand and the experience but also allows others to see our unique brand, which hopefully helps spread the word and grow the business."

How ‘Tales From The Trunk’ Enhanced Their Subscription Service With Custom Merch

Things You Can Learn From Tales From The Trunk

"The best way to learn is to observe others' experiences and apply the lessons to your own life." This famous quote (by who, we're not sure) can be expressly applied to business and entrepreneurship.

Take the examples set by successful businesses and find your own take on them to apply them to your branding. Here's what you can take from 'Tales From The Trunk' and Sam & Tess's woven patches.

  • Enhance Brand Identity: Custom merchandise, like woven patches, can reinforce a business's unique identity. For Tales from the Trunk, the patches are a physical reminder of the adventures subscribers experience through the letters.
  • Boost Engagement: Including interactive elements like collectible patches can increase customer involvement and satisfaction. Subscribers are more likely to stay engaged when they receive unique, high-quality items.
  • Foster Community: Branded merch can help build a sense of community among subscribers. Collecting and sharing patches can create a shared experience and promote word-of-mouth marketing.
  • Create Additional Revenue Streams: Offering custom products can provide an additional source of income. Fans of Tales from the Trunk might purchase extra patches or related items, enhancing overall revenue.
  • Strengthen Customer Loyalty: Providing unique, well-crafted items helps retain customers by adding value to the subscription service.

Key Takeaways

Tales from the Trunk showcases how businesses can leverage custom merchandise to enhance the customer experience. By partnering with Made by Cooper, Sam has enriched his storytelling service and created a stronger connection with his audience. Other businesses can learn from this approach, using custom merch to add value, boost engagement, and foster a loyal community. Contact us today to create a meaningful connection with your audience.

Made by Cooper
July 1 2024

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