Getting to know… Sarah Willmott of Feel Better Box

Feel Better Box is a unique and thoughtful care package service. It’s there for all those times when you want to send a little love or a wellbeing boost someone’s way to show them that they’re in your thoughts.
www.feelbetterbox.com.au
Tell us about yourself
I’m English and my dad was a “ten pound pom” – he moved to Australia with his family when he was ten. When they arrived they settled in Wollongong. Working in the factories wasn’t quite the dream the family had envisioned (and what the TV adverts had shown!). After a year they had saved up enough money to fly all six of them home.
It was Dad’s dream to return and live in Australia and when I was 21 I came to Australia on holiday and loved it! I encouraged my family to move and helped my dad apply for the visa we needed to live in Australia. However just before our planned immigration date I met my boyfriend and decided to stay there for a couple more years (I had a good feeling about this one) while my mum, dad, my sister and the family dog, Holly, moved to Australia!
I stayed behind and applied for a permanent visa with my boyfriend and we moved to Melbourne once we had our visas sorted. After 3 years, my husband was transferred to Sydney with his work and we moved here when I was 3 months pregnant – away from all of my family. It’s definitely been a bit more difficult to make friends when you don’t drink as opposed to our first experience of moving to Melbourne. We bought our apartment in Randwick and moved in two weeks before our baby arrived.
It’s funny, for a long time in my childhood, Australia was a wonderful holiday destination and now I’m here, I love it. I love that summer feels more like 9 months of the year, our outdoor lifestyle, the beautiful beaches and endless parks and children’s activities for our 3 & 5 year olds to enjoy.
As for me, I used to be a crazy crafter who never finishes my crafting projects! I cannot sit still unless I have some new project underway. But that energy is now happily utilised in my business.
Tell us about Feel Better Box
It emerged when I was really sick with my children in 2015 with no family around and my husband was away. It was miserable. I thought about what could have made me feel better and felt that if someone had sent me a care package packed with items to help us feel better, it would have made such a difference. It would have raised my spirits knowing that someone was thinking of us even if they weren’t there to care for us. I realised I could turn that idea into a business because if I am by myself and sick, there must be so many others in a similar situation who have family far away and cannot help when they’re unwell.
What types of boxes do you have?
I try to think of all the areas where people are not feeling well physically or emotionally. I started off with a “Cold and Flu” box and then a “Pick Me Up” range for when someone is feeling down or having a rough time in life. Then we have a “Hospital Stay Hampers” with activities, books to help with boredom and soothe the mind.
We also offer “Mens Get Well Soon” boxes as no one ever knows what to buy for men. With our “New Baby Gift Hampers” we provide various potions and lotions for any ailments the baby might be having such as cradle cap, colic, sore teeth and dry skin. I believe this is such a perfect gift as being a new mum can be confusing with so many brands; our gifts offer an easy and safe solution for a new mum so she has everything at hand to help her baby.
In our “New Mum” gift boxes we provide thoughtful items to help ease her into her new role. Such as an eye mask to sleep when baby sleeps, dry shampoo, safe body and nipple creams to soothe and safe bath salts. We also offer “Mini Recovery Boxes” for the aftermath of a corporate event! They include a small paracetamol pack, a Berocca sachet, Hydralyte sachet, lip balm and mints.
It’s a lovely concept, how did you take the idea to creation?
Before this business, I had this idea that I wanted to sell windbreakers i.e. poles with fabric attached to them banged into the sand (I’m from the UK!) to break the wind when at the beach. I did everything; registered the business name, set up the platform, email address, social media – the lot. However, when it came to the prototype it didn’t really work the way I had envisaged and I lost heart. If I hated using them, I could never sell them.
As a result, when I started Feel Better Box I already knew how to set up everything businesswise and it was really easy from there. I set up the platform, the email address, social media, bought the domain name, registered the business name (that came quite easily too – although you can see why) and all I had to do was to reach out to suppliers of my favourite brands and apply for wholesale. At first I bought many things retail to see if they would sell. I went through a bit of trial and error period and nutted it down to the things that people like to send to help a loved one feel better. I’m always learning and those first few calls for wholesale were scary. Even finding boxes or attending ‘business events’ I felt like a fraud. But over a year later and there are no nerves and I do not feel like a fraud at all!
What satisfaction do you gain in helping people this way?
It’s the kind of satisfaction that fills my heart full of joy and makes me cry tears of happiness. I know that being far away from loved ones when you are by yourself and unwell can be hard for you, but it can be just as hard for your friends and family. The helplessness they feel can be all consuming unless they travel across country or around the world to visit a much loved you. Most of the time this is not possible, but a care package can at least bridge the gap. I know I am helping every day because of the words I write in their gift cards. Sometimes they are funny “feel better soon brown eyes” or “To snotface” or “Manflu can be awful…” Others are from colleagues sending their well wishes and some move me to tears and I know how much the person receiving their care package needs it.
I’ve sent care packages to Nanna’s who have been going through a rough patch, to cold & flu boxes from relatives in India, relatives in the US sending desk munchies for their long working loved ones, to relatives bedridden with their third pregnancy and a ‘his and hers’ care package to a hospital for the husband and wife by his side. I see acts of kindness every day; this is a job that gives more satisfaction to me then any I could ever have dreamt of. And with that in mind, I donate $5 from every box purchased to help purchase another one for the Smiles2u charity I support. In my eyes, it’s a chain of giving and I hope it never stops.
What’s new with Feel Better Box?
I have a new luxury winter warmer range as we head into winter. I have some hug mugs, gourmet-drinking chocolate, happy socks and candles. I have two options, Milk chocolate or Chilly chocolate – yum!
You provide boxes to sick kids and families in hospital – can you tell us more about that?
I have paired up with a charity, Smiles2u, who give care packages to children and parents who find themselves in hospital. There are some colouring and activity books, along with some snacks and overnight supplies. I donate $5 from every box I sell so that Smiles2u can put their care packages together.
What has been the loveliest feedback you have received from a recipient of your boxes?
“Whoever put dry shampoo in the care package you sent me is a super genius”. I was forwarded that response last week!
I’ve actually received a fair amount of feedback, which really fills my heart. This one is likely one of my all time favourites:
“My dear nan called me this morning in tears!! She was having a really bad morning when she received a knock on the door to find the most amazingly beautiful present! She could barely talk through the tears! So, thank you!! Thank you so very much for making something so lovely that made my nan smile on a dreary day.”
With feedback like that, who wouldn’t love my job?
Juggling 2 young kids, work, a business, and life in general – what are the things you do that make your life easier?
Something I have recently learnt is to try not to do everything. There are so many things that you have to do or perceive that you have to do when running your own business including marketing and social media. If I’m honest, I don’t have enough time to do it all. Originally I used to beat myself up about it but now I’d rather be a little bit behind and enjoy the time that I have before my little people go to school. I cut myself some slack and now that works for me. Be kind to yourself, because if you can’t, who will?
A life changing experience you are comfortable to share?
When I was a little girl at around 6 or 7 years old, my mum was downstairs doing the ironing listening to music. The record player stopped playing and she heard a weird noise that came from upstairs. She followed the noise and to her dismay found me hanging from the top bunk bed asleep. From the top bunk I had somehow slipped between the mattress and the wooden side with my head above the wood and my body dangling over the side. The strange noise was me, choking in my sleep! She had to push the mattress down and wedge me back up and onto the bed. Apparently I stayed asleep throughout the whole ordeal. I was a skinny little thing so I must have just slipped through.
With that in mind growing up, I have always had that feeling that I am really lucky; I never knew why as I had no memory of that event. It has always carried with me and I feel lucky that I can enjoy and appreciate the people and things around me.
Favourite spots in Sydney’s Inner West?
Birkenhead Point, the Summer Hill fete and Marrickville markets. I am a markets and fete style cruiser – if someone puts on a nice event I make the effort to go and enjoy it.
 
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