Max Rocks was born when my son Max joined Meithrin (Nursery) in a Welsh language school in the Swansea Valleys. When he began, we were given an A4 sheet of paper with the Welsh words for animals on and were told that we'd need to learn these with our children this term. Being a trained graphic designer and illustrator, I decided to create a pack of Welsh Anifeiliaid/Animals Flash Cards to fully equip myself to teach Max this vocabulary. I shared the designs on social media and within a week I’d sold 250 packs and quickly needed to source printing, packaging and work out the logistics of distribution. I did it - and this is when Max Rocks was born.
To this day we have sold over 4000 boxes of the Anifeiliaid pack and they have become an international hit, selling to places from Milwaukee and Patagonia to Swansea and Angelsey. I have more recently designed 3 more boxes of Flash Cards, following the curriculum of their age range and aiding English-speaking mothers just like myself with the tools to learn together with their children. These flash cards have enabled them to feel in control of their child’s learning - a feeling that they may have felt they lost whilst sending their child on their Welsh language journey. Excitingly, they’ve also been popular with adults wanting to learn Welsh and many of our sales have been to adult Welsh learning groups and Welsh associations across the globe. Through listening to other parents needs throughout this process I then designed and produced a pack of luxury Welsh Baby Milestone Cards (which are non-existent in the Welsh market) which have been another massive hit. Every new product launch like this has been funded by the profits of the products before.
To create a greater cash flow and to build Max Rocks into a fully identifiable and successful business, I decided to branch out into the Welsh gift industry. I designed a range of 36 Welsh language Greetings Cards and visited our 2 major trade shows in Wales. Our cards were so well received our stockist list quickly escalated from 20 to over 100, and it was at this point that I asked Entrepreneur Gemma Richards to come on board as a Business Director of the company so I could fully focus one the creative side. I then gave up my career to fully focus and commit to Max Rocks which is now my passion. I moved the business out of my spare room into a larger premises to accommodate our growing stockist list and to adhere to our newly founded SLA of delivery in 2-3 days. This SLA is more competitive than any greeting card manufacturer in Wales, as well as the most successful Welsh greetings card supplier which is based in Sussex, England. We are passionate about keeping our business within the country and ensure our print and packaging is sourced within Wales. We are proud that our SLA target now brings the business back to Wales.
We’ve since added iconic framed Designer Prints to the product line using illustrations from our Flash Cards and Greetings Cards, as well as Welsh Stationery which has been recommended on social media by Welsh icons such as Michael Sheen, Joanna Page (from Gavin & Stacey) and Eve Miles (from Keeping Faith and Torchwood). We are passionate about marketing and know that success lies with a quality product range, excellent service and successful promotion.
Through all of this growth, Max Rocks has a set ethos - we are passionate about Women for Women and Mothers for Mothers. In this day and age where women are striving for success and fulfilment, whilst also trying to be the best mothers we can be, we all need to support each other in our longing for success. Max Rocks enables mothers to learn alongside their children whilst sharing this in a community on social media. We also employ mothers between the hours of 9am - 2.30pm or during evenings to pack and finish our products, and we even employed women to refurbish our new premises. The Max Rocks headquarters also has a drop-in office where mothers can pop in and join us whilst we are working, with an area for toys and games for their children and a bit of rest bite for themselves.
As a company, we are also passionate about recycling and helping others. Since June 2020 we have implemented a ‘no plastic’ policy by using compostable bags instead of plastic bags for our greetings cards and zero plastic in our other packaging to customers and stockists, opting for recyclable paper instead. We are constantly looking to make our carbon footprint smaller and will continue to do this whilst rolling out new products. To contribute to charity, our new range of Christmas Card packs include a 10% donation to local and national Welsh charities. Max Rocks also undertakes free design work for charity events to ensure they look great and are promoted successfully.
Through research, networking and hard work we now stock in over 194 outlets in Wales, including 13 castles within CADW, over 7 properties within The National Trust, St Fagans, The National Library of Wales, galleries, museums, shops, schools plus through our own website. This has resulted in achieving a turnover of £75k which exceeds our estimated sales for the first year in just 7 months. Stockists love the ‘Max Rocks story’ and as a result we have included it on our packaging. Our designs are now becoming iconic and recognisable as a mainstream brand in Welsh language design.
In 2020 we continued to hit the ground running, releasing a Wonderfully Welsh Calendar (selling 1800 copies), a brand new 42 card range of deluxe Greetings Cards and Prints, a full selection of Relative Cards, a selection of Wooden Decorations and a brand new Translation Print. We are currently creating at least 2 more boxes of Welsh Learning Flash Cards and a range of Age Cards. Through attending Trade Fairs this year we have major interest from Chester Zoo for our Welsh Learning Products, plus several companies would like to collaborate with us, all within Wales.
As we progress through 2021 our business continues to grow despite still working in ‘the unknown’. We are always designing, creating and idea making - our product range has now expanded to over 600 products and our office space has been designed so we have the capacity to fulfil massive orders in a short time. At the end of last year we employed 2 members of staff, a Warehouse Manager and Accounts Manager who is fluent in Welsh. We have also given self employed work to over 8 parents locally who work packing our products from home, working flexible working hours, overseen by our warehouse manager. This delegation enables myself and Gemma to grow the business further, and after a very successful Christmas Collection we have now debuted our first English range. We hope to double our stockists in this next year, focussing on online stores (due to the pandemic) and we continue to support homeschooling mothers and promote shopping locally.
This year we have also been working with The Great British Pop Up to secure two weeks in John Lewis Cardiff, with consideration of us stocking there full time. We are excited to be in store for the week during the run up to Father's Day and the last week in November to debut our 2021 Christmas range. We hope to also move to John Lewis Bluewater next summer to debut our new English range, The Pretty Lush Collection.
We continue to be passionate about all our customers and stockists from independent shops to larger chains, and provide everyone with the best customer service we can offer. We are so proud of how much we’ve achieved in a short space of time but continue to strive further to make Max Rocks as successful as possible.