My name is Sian Cartledge and I am the founder of Max Rocks, a unique design company based in the Swansea Valleys specialising in Welsh learning resources and designer products for the Welsh gift industry.
Max Rocks began when my husband Richard and I made the decision to send our son Max to Welsh school. At Meithryn/Nursery age it became apparent that well-designed and visually appealing Welsh Learning Resources were sparse, especially bilingual resources for English speaking parents supporting Welsh speaking children. As a graphic designer and illustrator, I designed a pack of Anifieliaid/Animals flash cards in my lunch break which I shared on social media for a few like-minded parents. Within a week, there was so much interest and orders sky rocketed to over 250 boxes. 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 since designed 3 more boxes of Flash Cards, following the curriculum of their age range, and a pack of luxury Welsh Baby Milestone Cards following requests from parents. To create a greater cash flow and to build Max Rocks into a fully identifiable and successful business, I then 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 where our stockist list escalated from 20 to over 100. After hiring a Business Director, Gemma, I gave up my career to fully focus and commit to Max Rocks.
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. 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.
Through all of this growth, Max Rocks has a set ethos - we are passionate about Women for Women and Mothers for Mothers, enabling mothers to learn alongside their children whilst sharing this in a community on social media. The Max Rocks headquarters has a drop-in office where mothers can pop in and join us with their children whilst we are working, and we also employ mothers between the hours of 9am - 2.30pm or during evenings to pack and finish our products.
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.
As a business we pride ourselves on our brilliant customer service for all our stockists. We are accessible, knowledgable and are constantly seeking ways to improve the experience we offer our customers. We supported small businesses through the pandemic by offering free delivery for the 5 months of lockdown and keeping in touch with regular email updates to let them know we are here for them. We also built an online image library of our products so our stockists can easily access the images they require.
As we progress through 2021 our business continues to grow despite still working in ‘the unknown’. Our product range has now expanded to over 600 products, including Calendars, Homeware, new ranges of Greetings Cards and Prints, Relative Cards, Age Cards and Wooden Decorations. Our office space has been designed so we have the capacity to fulfil massive orders in a short time. The larger premises allows us 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.
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, 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.