In November last year I entered a competition at the newly-opened Design Museum in London, to win a NotAnotherBill gift subscription. And I won! Three months of complementary gifts came in the post, and today I’m reviewing what I received. Also, for the first time on The London Parchment I’m hosting a giveaway, to pay my luck forward that I had when I won this gift subscription.
About the company and the gift subscription
NotAnotherBill are a London-based company with a monthly subscription service and online shop. The team are a bunch of creatives with backgrounds and interests in art, advertising, fashion and more. The company sum up the reason for their subscription service as follows: ‘No-one gets anything good in the post anymore apart from bills and a few pizza menus’. True enough. The company specialise in design-led items, personally curate their selection and boxes and work with designers and artists directly. Their blog is good too; they feature products, artists and projects of interest to anyone with a fancy for design.
I won a three month gift subscription, so I received one of their boxes in December 2016, January and February 2017. Normally, you can subscribe to receive a box on a monthly basis or for a defined period (3, 6 or 12 months) and you input a bit of information about yourself (Priya, Female, Twenties) and select categories that you are particularly interested in, so the NotAnotherBill team can choose a gift for you that you will really enjoy. No point receiving a notebook when what you really want is a scarf. NotAnotherBill then show you some of the gifts that match your interests, which you can select to add to your boxes, or you can choose to keep them as surprises. Selecting some particular gifts adds a bit of predictability, although you can choose quite a few, so you might not receive all of them. A monthly box, if you were to choose a subscription which renews automatically each month, costs £24.
So having gone through this (painless) process, what did I receive?
December: Leather Currency Case
NotAnotherBill collaborated with Paperthinks to produce this recycled leather currency case, designed to hold all manner of travel-related necessities.
This was a really useful gift for me. I travel a lot for my job so I’m very often taking my passport out of my drawer, collecting up my flyer cards, printing boarding passes, etc. I’ve always envied people in the airport that have a smart case for their travel documents!
The case is solid, well-designed and colourful. There are two zipped pockets for you to slip in your necessities and, crucially for such important documents, they zip completely and securely shut. White, blue, red and green are the colours at play and there are several little design touches, such as alternating zip and pocket colours.
The gift also contains some information about Paperthinks, who produced the currency case, and the reasoning behind producing eco-friendly products.
I really like this gift and I think I was quite lucky to receive it with a job like mine, as I know I’ll get plenty of use out of it. It sits very flat, and one design point I would mention is that the leather is quite tight, so each pocket doesn’t expand very much. I can fit the goodies in my first picture in the case and not too much more. It’s good because it doesn’t take up much space in a bag at all, but it wouldn’t fit in A4 travel documents or several sheets of printouts. I definitely would not have bought something like this myself, which is a good point about this subscription: that it connects you to things you like and will use but wouldn’t necessarily seek out.
Cost of leather currency case on NotAnotherBill’s shop: £35
Saving through receiving this as a gift: £11
January: Notebooks and Hexagonal Brass Pen
Obviously I put down one of my preferred categories as stationery and “for the desk”. In January I received a stationery set containing two A5-sized notebooks, one graph grid and one plain, and a handsome hexagonal brass pen.
Notebooks are always going to be a winner with me! I generally like the design of the notebooks, and they contain high-quality 270gsm paper. They were made in collaboration with Avenue Litho, a print studio in London and come in at a whopping £20 each if you were to purchase these individually from NotAnotherBill’s online shop.
I was really chuffed about receiving the brass pen in particular. I have a brass Karas Kustoms Render K and a very inexpensive round brass pen that I bought on Etsy, and I like neither. The brass Render K is too heavy (unsurprisingly) and the round brass pen tarnished within a day and rolls off my desk. This hexagonal pen is really well designed and is crafted from a solid piece of brass. It’s solid without being too heavy, the cap and barrel line up perfectly, creating a very pleasing clean hexagonal effect, it doesn’t roll off the desk and the refill (a G2) is reliable and enjoyable to use. I also really like the colour of this pen. It’s a very golden brass and it’s brushed slightly. It picks up marks which give it a lovely used look. On its own, this pen retails for £28.
I use the brass pen regularly at work and I know this is the kind of item I would really like the look of, but again, probably hesitate to buy on my own. Again, I’m really happy with this gift.
Cost of stationery set on NotAnotherBill’s shop: £38
Saving through receiving this as a gift: £14
February: Designer Artist’s Roll
February’s gift made me a very happy girl. I received this gorgeous, indigo/blue nappa leather artist’s roll, complete with twelve Faber Castell coloured pencils. I’ve been a fan of pen rolls ever since I bought the Hightide pen roll.
This gift was a treat to receive. Can you imagine how happy I was to unroll this lovely piece of leather and find this rainbow of Faber Castells? Also, I know it’s not supposed to be important but the packaging was lovely and really got me excited. The cylindrical box is also coming in useful now to store other pencils in!
The leather roll itself is incredibly soft and supple. I’ve learned from using my Midori Travelers Notebook that leather will become soft with use and lose its matte look. I’m really excited to see how this leather roll ages. I imagine it will start getting a shine where I hold it most, and maybe develop some soft creases. The roll is studded with holes to thread 12 pencils at slightly different heights and each barrel peeks through the outside of the roll when you tie it up.
This artist’s roll on its own is being sold for £55. That’s a huge saving receiving this through the subscription and I completely appreciate a relatively high price point for an item like this. I’ve tried it out with my other pencils and they fit perfectly, although new pencils (as with all pencilcases generally – sigh) are a little bit too long. It doesn’t fit many of the pens I’ve tried out, gel pen barrels that I’ve tried (Zebra Sarasa, Uni-ball Signo UM-151, Gelly Roll, Pentel Hybrid Grip, etc) are just a bit too wide. Fountain pens don’t fit either. So this artist’s roll will stay firmly for pencils, which I’m not complaining about because I have many. Although it’s very pleasing having a complete set of Faber Castells, I might swap a couple out for some varying graphite grades and use it as a sketching and colouring kit.
Cost of stationery set on NotAnotherBill’s shop: £55
Saving through receiving this as a gift: £31
I’m really impressed with NotAnotherBill’s subscription service. For £24 a month (or less if you sign up to a set period) you can receive high quality, design-led gifts which are curated with a keen eye. More widely, NotAnotherBill stock a thoughtful range of stationery and deskware (as well as a whole host of other beautiful things). Overall I would have spent £72 if I had taken this subscription out myself. The value of the gifts I received is £128, so I would have saved £56 compared to buying these items individually. NotAnotherDesk include a little letter with each gift, containing their thoughts on the gift, information about the product and designer/artist collaboration where relevant. It was good to get a little insight into the box’s contents, for example, the notebooks and brass pen I received in January was chosen in reference to New Year’s Resolution listmaking, and the fun of doing so using beautiful stationery.
One thing I really like about the gifts I received during my subscription is that they all have longevity: the leather case feels very solid and sturdy, the brass pen will last me for a long time, and the artist’s roll will only get better with age. Luckily I liked all of my gifts, but even if I didn’t, NotAnotherBill accept returns and will replace the gift for something you do like. I also appreciate that NotAnotherBill work directly with independent artists and designers, it means you won’t find what you receive anywhere else.
I would say that I wouldn’t buy the gifts that I’ve received myself, but that’s because I’m the kind of person that takes time to decide what I want and I save up for it or buy one thing at a time. I don’t impulse purchase too often. I was genuinely surprised and delighted by the gifts I received based on a small amount of information about myself and my preferences. But then that’s a benefit to me about this particular subscription: I receive things I like, that I wouldn’t get to use otherwise, at a reasonable price (and much better value than retail).
I sometimes worry about with subscriptions that I’ll end up receiving things that nobody else is choosing to buy. This clearly is not the case with NotAnotherBill’s offering. Unfortunately I won’t be continuing my subscription as I’m saving my pennies for other things and my upcoming trip to Japan, and I’ve stopped all my subscription services. But if and when I do decide to take one out again, I would take out NotAnotherBill’s subscription again and I would certainly recommend it to others.
If you’re interested in a subscription, you can sign up here.
I won a gift subscription for a three-month subscription to NotAnotherBill through an open competition held by the Design Museum. Although I received these gifts through this free subscription, the opinions in this piece are all my own.
NotAnotherBill x Avenue Litho Notebooks (and some other stationery goodies)
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