If you thought books and chocolate go together, you're right. You're also – probably – female. That's certainly Aisling Finn's belief, and the driving force behind her successful book subscription business, TheBookResort.ie.
She set it up in October 2019 and, while it was a surefire winner from the outset, Covid accelerated sales massively. “I feel guilty saying that,” she says. But she shouldn’t, because cometh the hour, cometh the smart business idea.
The Book Resort is a monthly subscription service you sign up for yourself or gift to someone else, and, in return, get a monthly book delivery plus a range of goodies and treats. Its most popular option currently costs €33, for which you get a book, a box of chocolates and a gift card, including delivery.
Prior to setting up the business Finn was working away happily in IT. “I love reading and was looking for a book subscription box and couldn’t find one. Then I started wondering if there would be a market for it,” she explains.
Turns out there was. Today she employs seven people and ships to 20 countries from her premises in Waterford.
"I just took everything I wanted in a box service and put it all together – we are really nice to customers, we offer free delivery and the stuff in the box is really nice," she explains. Gift items could be anything from luxury wax melts from Stoneridge to Holos cosmetics or Jo Malone fragrances.
“We are shipping a couple of thousand boxes a month, we have a book club, we have customers worldwide – and it smells just lovely in here too,” she says.
The business is building and growing, with a new tracking facility to allow people keep an eye on their deliveries.
“We’re taking on new suppliers too and what’s great is that every one of our boxes has Irish suppliers. The chocolates are Irish, the packaging is Irish and the cards are designed by a local artist,” she says.
“Our success creates a domino effect for other Irish businesses, many of which are female-founded. That’s important to us because 95 per cent of our customers are women – even those [subscriptions] that are bought by men, are bought for women.”