Personal gifts are always the ones we remember. It’s the exclusiveness of the gesture of affection, tailor-made with care, that makes them stand out above the rest.

This is the ethos behind Create Gift Love, a Hampshire-based brand who have been creating stunning personalised sustainable wooden and leather gifts since 2011.

Emily Carr and her husband Tony are the brains behind the business, which rose from humble beginnings in their garden shed. The pair met in 2002 at the University of Portsmouth and now live in Christchurch with their two young children, Evelyn and Griff.

Great British Life: Emily and her husband Tony have come a long way since starting the business in their garden shedEmily and her husband Tony have come a long way since starting the business in their garden shed

What started out as a hobby for the duo, soon became one of the UK’s fastest growing gift companies; they now employ 15 staff at their workshop near the New Forest.

Emily remembers: ‘The idea began one Christmas – Tony and I decided we wanted to make Christmas gifts. We had a small budget that year and my husband has a big family. Tony was working in the aerospace industry at that time and I was a pharmacist. I had this idea to make wooden cufflinks and engrave them with a name. We engraved them using the machinery at Tony’s work. Everyone really loved them. As the feedback was so positive, we then started to sell them on a friend’s Not On The High Street site and then through our own account when we started selling more. I’d be up at 6am in the morning making things and then again on my lunch break. As a pharmacist, I could book my shifts, which gave me more time to make orders. That year we were creating everything from our shed at the bottom of a garden and things just snowballed. We were quite reactive to the situation. Tony’s dad would help us, as well as other family members when it got really busy.’

Great British Life: Emily and Tony's business has grown to include leather goods, wooden keepsakes and moreEmily and Tony's business has grown to include leather goods, wooden keepsakes and more

From personalised keyrings and coasters, to cufflinks, leather bookmarks and photo-blocks, every item is made to order, and they pride themselves on quality. Customers can add their own photographs and messages to certain products to add that special touch.

Emily continues: ‘Our message is meaningful moments made. The connection that people have with each other, it’s so important. To bring joy to people.’

Sustainability is hugely important to their business and the impact on the environment has been part of the conversation since the get-go. All their products are created in the UK and made from suitability sourced natural materials, their packaging is plastic free, they have zero waste productions, and installed solar panels on their roof in 2021.

Emily explains: ‘From the beginning, we always wanted to make sure everything was sustainable. We wanted to know exactly where the wood was coming from. We always had recycled packing from the start. We never had to pivot in any way to become more sustainable because we always knew that if we were going to make things, we want to make sure we are adding – not taking away.

‘A lot of our products come from ideas where we try to use up scrap material. We were making lots of cufflinks and had lots of off-cuts of wood – so my husband designed a little wooden keyring with a little date on it for our wedding that we could make out of the wood.

Great British Life: Emily and Tony's business celebrates the extra things in lifeEmily and Tony's business celebrates the extra things in life

‘That is something we do a lot, use scraps – we have a think about what we can do with them then suddenly they become a big seller! The wood and leather key rings are really popular. As we progressed, we started playing around with leather and looking into different materials. Our leather is sustainable, vegetable tanned –we use two fantastic suppliers in the UK and Italy. It’s all raw materials so they come in hides.’

Her advice for any business hoping to keep things British: ‘It is possible. You can do it in the UK. We talk about it so much internally here – you can manufacturer in the UK and you can do it profitably.’

After the success of Create Gift Love, Emily soon found herself brainstorming ideas for another sister brand which soon became ‘Sbri’. Sbri celebrates the extra things in life and the little things that bring joy – little leather leopard print purses, dog accessories, yoga mat straps and more.

‘I’m from a small town in South Wales called Burry Port. Sbri means ‘fun’ in Welsh. In Wales, at the time, you couldn’t get anything with Mam on it, it was always Mum or Mummy – and in Wales we say Mam, so I made my Mum a bracelet. I few years later I made a magnet, which at the time was hard to do as there wasn’t the options that there are today. Looking back, that creative side of making gifts was always in me.’

Great British Life: Emily now employs a team of 15 people to help her and her husband with Create Gift LoveEmily now employs a team of 15 people to help her and her husband with Create Gift Love

Tony’s side project became Man and Bear – a brand aimed at men, offering luxury accessories for their suit and desk, travels and adventures. Personalised solid brass cufflinks, beard combs and journals are just some of the products they offer.

It’s clear Emily and Tony take enormous pride in what they do and ensure everything that leaves the workshop is perfect.

Emily summarises: ‘The connections we have with each other throughout life are so important and touching meaningful gifts with special messages and dates bring such joy to people. Engagements, births – it’s so amazing to be a part of that.’,,