After 10 years in communications roles, Melina Walton was successfully climbing the corporate ladder. However, she found she had a deep longing to do something more with her life and career.
“More than anything, I wanted to be so happy working every day that it never felt like work. I also have a passion for design but my creative side was not able to flourish in my current circumstances,” she shared with Anthill.
Sometimes in life, you get two gifts in one
Melina was actively on the hunt for a business idea to change her life for about six months when, for her birthday, a friend sent her a gift in the post and a spark was lit.
“I loved the feeling of going to my letterbox and finding such a nice surprise waiting. I began to wonder how I could capture and share this feeling with others more often, and so the concept of monthly surprises in the mail seeded in my mind,” she said.
Upon investigating what other monthly subscription models were out there, Melina found that while there were some services posting samples of various products, there was no one in the designer space, posting high quality goods made by really talented people and particularly no one in the Australian brand space.
So in October 2012, she launched Letters from Letty to showcase the best of Australia’s emerging designers, artists and brands to the rest of the world.
Now I’m pretty sure you’re wondering, “Why the name Letters from Letty?” Well, Melina revealed to us that she is actually named after her great-grandmother, Letty, from which her middle name, Letitia, was derived.
How exactly does Letters from Letty work?
Customers visit Letters from Letty’s website to either purchase a subscription for themselves, or as a gift for someone else. The gift subscriptions range in length from a one-off gift, to three, six and 12 month subscriptions.
Subscriptions close the first Sunday of the month. Payments are taken up front and for every month of subscription, recipients receive a surprise gift in the mail once a month.
However, Melina disclosed that she plans to introduce a rolling subscription option shortly to offer subscribers a monthly payment option, rather than the upfront payment.
Each month, a guest designer is invited to fill the gift boxes with their unique design pieces, which are then posted mid-month, around the 15th to subscribers all over the world.
These gift boxes are specifically designed for their female subscribers and could contain anything from jewellery, bags, stationery, home wares to art works.
“The designers provide their favourite selection of goods that are unique to them, and where possible, we ask designers to design specifically for us. For example, kathykoo Design recently crafted subscribers clay pots made in our signature yellow and grey colours,” Melina explained.
The Letters from Letty community is informed of the upcoming featured designer a month prior to mail-out, but the gift items themselves remain a surprise until delivery.
The point of delivery is where the Letters from Letty experience is at its peak. Recipients may or may not know they have a subscription so they may or may not be expecting a package. However, the surprise for all recipients is what the gift actually is.
Melina pointed out that this is the excitement that she wanted to capture and share when she set out saying, “This is the point of Letters from Letty; those few moments of excitement, of feeling deserving and happy.”
Showcasing the best local talent in design
On top of being a lovely way to treat yourself or someone special, Letters from Letty is clearly also a great way to explore and support Australia’s emerging designers.
Jennie Geisker, a designer at Geisker, who discovered Letters from Letty when Melina started using the #ozdesigners hastag on Instagram says that as a fashion start-up, it’s hard to get your brand and product in front of like-minded consumers and Letters from Letty has allowed her to reach out to new Australian design conscious customers.
Adam Jelic of Mi Goals revealed that the exposure they gained from being promoted as the designer of the month on Letters from Letty had a positive impact on their bottom line and Kathy Heyward, a designer at kathykoo Design, says she was glad to collaborate with a like-minded, small business visionary like Melina.
Letters from Letty will soon be expanding its offerings via an online store where designers can sell their goods directly to the community and also in the pipeline is a behind-the-scenes interview series to get to know a range of renowned Australian designers.