A Slinfold company mailing toys to thousands of children across the country celebrated the arrival of two pieces of good news just before Christmas.
Jonathan and Shirley Copeland, who live in Horsham, met while working at Royal Sun Alliance and after marrying decided to leave the company in 1996 to set up their own business.
Seventeen years later Mulberry Bush, which specialises in traditional and wooden toys, is thriving so much so it has moved into a much larger premises at Bramble Hill Farm in Slinfold, and recently announced an exciting new acquisition.
The business has taken over Letterbox, another well-known toy mail order company, along with its brand, website, and customer base.
In the run up to this year’s Christmas period they have mailed out more than 500,000 catalogues and have 22 full and part time beavering away to send out toys to children across the country.
While he and Shirley had already planned to start a mail order business, the genesis of the traditional toy idea came from when Jonathan noticed a catalogue for ‘gifts and toys for men and boys’ on a train journey home.
The couple then wondered if there were other gaps in the toy market.
Jonathan explained: “From the beginning that’s why we looked at traditional toys and more solid wooden ones, the things that grandparents remember from their childhood and remember buying for their children and might want to buy for their grandchildren.
“Dolls houses and castles are never out of fashion.”
Shirley added: “It was more like a hobby [in the beginning], it was not a job but it evolved over time.”
“We are in charge of our own destiny.”
As they look to the future, Jonathan hopes they can hand over Mulberry Bush to his son Paul.
He explained: “The fact that we have got members of the family involved in one way or another for the future is greatly encouraging and not only that Paul’s two sons are great toy testers.
“Their house looks like a branch of Mulberry Bush.”
What’s it like as a husband and wife team working side-by-side every day?
Jonathan answered: “We worked together before we were married, but we do see a lot of each other.”
“And very lucky he is too,” Shirley pipes in.
For more information visit www.mulberrybush.co.uk