Creators of the first ever plantable children’s books

Tell us about your company

Homegrown in Leicester, at Willsow Printers, we design and produce the first ever plantable children’s books. Made with special handmade paper, our books are embedded with real seeds. When the children finish reading, they can plant it in the ground and grow the vegetables and herbs from the story!

Our mission is to get children outside to learn about the environment and growing food in a fun and creative way.

Recognised as a leader and award-winner in sustainability, gifting and innovation, we are already stocked in 1,500 stores across the UK. Having proven the appetite for their products, we now want to take our books to an international audience and reach as many children as possible globally.

willsow parsley book in ground
Tom Willday

"Hi! I’m Tom of Willsow books. Some time ago I discovered you could make business cards out of seed paper and grow a flower or plant from that card. From that discovery grew the idea of making a children’s book that you could plant and eventually ‘bring to life’ the main character to meet for yourself!

I’m part of a family printing company that has been going strong for 76 years and the 4th generation to manage the business. With a printing background and all the facilities already in place to create a book, I felt I could turn a pipe dream into reality."

What are your ambitions in New York?

To land a deal, reach more children and be a first of its kind product in America.

The revenue generated from an expansion into the US would help us to reinvest in the business; bring out new books, invest in translation, and expand the product range to reach as many families as possible. It would help grow a small family business of four generations into an international entity operating in multiple countries from a UK headquarters.

Willsow lettuce book
Willsow dill book

How has the Department for Business and Trade helped you?

DBT have offered fantastic support from our first outreach. Our local trade advisor has been a massive help with all things international trade! The advice has been world-class, and she has helped us expand our business by linking up with contacts and overseas organisations. We’ve even had market research activities carried out by DBT partners – this was invaluable as it helped us hone our focus to markets that would receive us the best.

What one piece of advice would you give other UK companies watching the series?

Let your business find its feet and settle, it needs to stand tested in the UK market! Optimising operations while headquartered in the UK will mean you’re much better equipped when expanding internationally. But on a wider note, the hardest thing is starting something. Just do it! If you have an idea and are passionate about it, the sooner you start the better.

Willsow basil book

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