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Archived posts: Ministry of Stories

Hoxton Street Monster Supplies Cookbook

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We’re dead proud to announce the publication of the Hoxton Street Monster Supplies Cookbook, which we recently designed for Octopus Books and the Ministry of Stories.

Here’s the blurb:

‘For hundreds of years, Hoxton Street Monster Supplies has been supplying quality goods for the Living, Dead and Undead – and this, its classic recipe book, has been in use for just as long. Now, for the first time, it has been adapted for use by humans. So whether you are entertaining trolls, hosting a vampire soirée or expecting zombies round for tea, you can make delicious treats to suit every occasion. With recipes and handy hints for monster housekeeping, this classic tome is an essential addition to every home, lair, cave, swamp or fiery pit.’

Here a photos of a few spreads:

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The book has been brilliantly written by Cara Frost-Sharratt, with a few additions by We Made This. The wonderful illustrations are by the fantastic Caroline Church, and they really make the book.

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We looked at Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management, classic Victorian cookbook, for inspiration. So as with that, our book features a few pages of adverts at the front and back. This pair of ads are for The Collywobbles, and for Grimm & Co., the amazing Apothecary for Magical Beings in Rotherham.

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Here’s a short promotional film, showing the making of some Fresh Maggot Brownies:

(You can see some more of the films here.)

The book is available from Hoxton Street Monster Supplies, with profits going to the Ministry of Stories – and it’s rather perfect for Halloween…

Oh, and there’s also a US edition, titled The Monster’s Cookbook, which is out later this month.

Grimm & Co

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Way back in October 2012, we posted on here to ask if anyone around the country was interested in setting up their own local version of the Ministry of Stories.

(The Ministry is a creative writing and mentoring centre for young people, based in Hoxton, which is hidden behind the fantastical Hoxton Street Monster Supplies. Alistair Hall, creative director at We Made This, is one of the co-founders of the Ministry and the monster shop, and has worked as their Art Director for the past six years. Read more about his work for the Ministry here, and for the monster shop here.)

A host of people came forward in the hope of setting up their own centre, and since then a vast amount of work has being going on, with various Ministry related projects now in gestation.

But the first fully fledged new member of the Ministry of Stories family has just launched.

And it’s quite brilliant.

Grimm & Co, Apothecary to the Magical, sits proudly in the middle of Rotherham town centre. The shop takes up the ground floor, and the writing centre sits above on the first floor. It’s incredible to see something like this right in the heart of a community.

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According to legend, the shop has been supplying evil plots, wild schemes, and kitchenware to the local magical community since 1148 (just after lunchtime).

Grimm & Co has been designed by the incredible team at Side by Side, who have donated all their time and skills for free. It’s an absolute labour of love, encompassing the branding (including the wonderful monogram, below), the products, the packaging, the interiors and the exteriors.

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The shelves above hide the hidden doorway which gives access to the writing centre beyond. There’s even a giant bean-stalk slide to take the young writers (and some of the not-so-young) back downstairs after they’ve finished writing.

And a fantastic story wall.

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We know for ourselves just how much work goes into creating something like this, and the team at Side by Side, along with a host of collaborators, have done an amazing job.

Deborah Bullivant, the indefatigable powerhouse behind Grimm & Co (or Founding Director as she’s more commonly known) says this of their work: “Side by Side’s ideas are unique, cliché-free and their professionalism is exemplary, doing whatever it takes for their client with a touch of awe and wonder.” Which isn’t bad.

Grimm & Co is a fantastic addition to the Ministry of Stories family, and we can’t wait to see what happens next…

Werewolf Biscuits

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Our latest product for Hoxton Street Monster Supplies is due to hit the shelves soon, and we’re hoping it’s going to be a best seller. (It’s already been featured by Werewolf News, which bodes well.)

Werewolf Biscuits are ‘perfect for lycanthropes of all sizes’. And guaranteed 100% silver-free.

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We also created a bespoke version of the packaging for The Story, the fantastic annual conference based around story telling of every conceivable form. The packs featured the running order for the conference on the back, and went down a storm with the delegates:

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See more buzz about the conference (and the biscuits) on this Storify page.

Werewolf Biscuits will be available online and in store soon.

One Story, Many Endings

The Ministry of Stories recently hosted a conference, Write for a Bright Future, the first gathering of all the projects around the world inspired by Dave Eggers’ and Ninive Clements Calegari’s 826 organisation in the USA.

Over 150 delegates attended from centres all over the world – including Roddy Doyle’s Fighting Words in Belfast and Dublin; Story Planet in Toronto; Sydney Story Factory in, well, Sydney; Porto delle Storie in Florence; and from a host of other centres, including of course 826 itself.

One of the many highlights of the conference was getting Dave Eggers, Nick Hornby and Roddy Doyle together to be interviewed by three students from the Ministry. Check out the video above – it’s well worth a watch.

Read more about our work for the Ministry here.

Hoxton Street Monster Supplies’ new website

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So, we’re feeling more than a little excited. The new website for Hoxton Street Monster Supplies has just launched. We’re  hugely proud of it.

The shop, established in 1818, provides bespoke and everyday items for the living, dead and undead. (And also happens to give all its proceeds to the Ministry of Stories, the young people’s writing and mentoring centre which dwells somewhere behind its shelves.)

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The shop’s old website, developed a few years back, didn’t work too well on mobile devices, so we took the chance to give it a complete overhaul.

We’re particularly pleased with a (much requested) translation feature:

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(You’ll have to visit the site to see how it works.)

The site is the result of a huge amount of work from a whole heap of talented folk giving their time, energy and skills for free. It was designed by the brilliant Fox twins, Gavin & Jason. They’re creative directors (at Framestore) who ‘specialise in storytelling in many mediums including theatre, video, VR, social media and of course websites’. They also do some amazing things for Secret Cinema, and a whole host of other incredible stuff. Jen Williams, Head of UX at Poke, made sure the user experience was just right. It was built (with remarkable patience) by the wonderful Jamie Ingram, Technical Director at Poke. Copywriter James North crafted the text on the site expertly, perfectly catching the flavour of the shop.

We provided art direction, mainly by getting in the way and being overly pernickety about typographic stylings.

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The products themselves look fantastic too, thanks to some brilliant photography by Darryl Stoodley.

Go shop.

Tooth Fairy Resigns

The Tooth Fairy may be resigning! Here’s Francesca Simon, author of Horrid Henry, telling the beginning of the story.

Francesca’s tale is also featured on the inside wrapper of the Milk Tooth Chocolate bar from Hoxton Street Monster Supplies. It’s a smooth milk chocolate with delicious chunks of delicately roasted milk teeth (a really monstrous treat).

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If you know a young writer, maybe they could come up with the ending? If they send their story to info@monstersupplies.org by 31 December 2014 they’ll be entered into a prize draw to win 30 bars of Milk Tooth Chocolate (enough for a whole class of little monsters!)

Find out more at the Ministry of Stories.

Planting Poetry for the Ministry of Stories

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Our memories of poetry at school mainly consist of being forced to sit and read aloud various impenetrable and ancient poems in a hot and stuffy classroom while glancing out of the window and thinking “I’d so much prefer to be out there right now”.

So it’s a massive pleasure to have worked on the latest Ministry of Stories project, where poetry is written rather than just read, and where it’s done outside rather than in.

Planting Poetry is a project the Ministry runs with primary school children. It runs over the course of five sessions, with the support of a facilitator and Ministry writing mentors. For this year’s project, thirty Year 5 children (aged 9-10) at William Patten Primary School in Stoke Newington explored a garden attached to their school, responding to the various edible and decorative plants they grow there.

They then created ten poems inspired by the garden, written in the Mesostic form – where a vertical word is formed from within the horizontal lines of the poem.

We then took their poems, and turned them into 3D signs which could be ‘planted’ in the garden. (Our designs are entirely based on the wonderful ones created for the project last year by Burgess Studio.) Each line of each poem is laser cut into pre-painted lengths of wood, which are then drilled and mounted onto a rod, before being installed around the garden. The fantastic folks at Beam Laser Cutting did an incredible job, doing all the production, and the poems looked really wonderful.

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Brilliant poems, and the children from the school seemed genuinely thrilled at seeing their work made real.

See inside Hoxton Street Monster Supplies

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Thanks to the magic of Google, you can now take a 360° tour of Hoxton Street Monster Supplies. The tour shows up whenever you Google the shop, via the ‘See inside’ panel.

The good folks from Aardvark 360 came to photograph the shop on a fantastically sunny morning.

It’s a super slick operation, taking no more than an hour, and the results give you a really clear sense of the how the shop looks, inside and out (though we’d still recommend a visit in real life of course).

While they were doing the shoot, one of the shop’s regular customers, a Mr Griffin, happened to have dropped by, and agreed to be included in the shots.

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What a gent.

Liberty London now selling Thickest Human Snot

It used to be that when you fancied picking up a jar of Thickest Human Snot, or a tin of Collywobbles, you had to head over to east London, to Hoxton Street Monster Supplies (or visit their online store of course).

But, for a limited time only, monsters can now pick up all their daily supplies at London’s smartest department store, Liberty. They’ve created a fantastic Pop Up Snot Shop, with an entrance right on Carnaby Street.

The entrance even has little peepholes, so that more nervous monsters (of any stature) can take a look at what’s on offer before venturing in.

Inside, a sign explains what the shop is all about.

The shelves are full of a range of the very best monster supplies, including Tinned Fear, Human Preserves (Thickest Human Snot, Old Fashioned Brain Jam and Organ Marmalade), boxes of Cubed Earwax, bars of Impacted Earwax, and of course, Zombie Freshmints.

There’s even a height chart, usefully sized for younger monsters:

Fantastic work by the creative team at Liberty, with art direction by We Made This.

The Best Kids’ Shop in London

Boom! We’re hugely proud to announce that Hoxton Street Monster Supplies has just been nominated as the Best Kids’ Shop in London by the good folks over at Time Out London magazine.

The latest issue of the magazine lists the best 100 shops in the capital, and singles out Hoxton Street Monster Supplies as the very best place for young folk to do a spot of shopping.

Of course, it’s not really a kids’ shop. It’s a shop for monsters. The clue is in the name really. But it would seem impolite to quibble, and the staff are generally fairly tolerant of humans, especially the younger variety.

If you can’t make it along to 159 Hoxton Street, you can buy some of the shop’s wonderful goods at their online store at www.monstersupplies.org

Read more about how we designed the shop, and how we helped set up and design the Ministry of Stories.