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Hoxton Street Monster Supplies

Hoxton Street Monster Supplies was established in 1818, and ever since then has served the daily needs of London’s extensive monster community. Step inside, and you’ll find a whole range of essential products for monsters: you can pick from a variety of Tinned Fears (distinctly helpful if you’re not quite as scary as you once were), a selection of Human Preserves, and a mix of other really rather fine goods, including Neck Bolt Tighteners, and Death Certificates (to prove you really are dead).

But the most important part of the shop is that the shelves hide a secret – a disguised entrance to the Ministry of Stories, a pioneering children’s writing workshop, co-founded by author Nick Hornby.

The shop is designed to tickle the imaginations of the children who come to the Ministry – it’s as if they’re walking into a physical storybook. It also tickles the imaginations of the hundreds of volunteers who work with the Ministry each year. And all the profits from the sales in the shop help fund the organisation.

I was one of the co-founders of the Ministry of Stories and Hoxton Street Monster Supplies in 2010 (you can read all about how it happened over here), and was the art director of both for ten years. Since 2021 I’ve focused just on Hoxton Street Monster Supplies. I designed the identities for both organisations, as well as designing the products sold in the shop, and their packaging, and also worked on much of their copywriting.

The project was an utter joy to work on, letting me flex both my design and writing muscles in equal measure; as well as letting me work with a fantastic team of collaborators including architects, writers, designers, dramaturgs and others.


Here’s a look at some of the products that are sold in the shop. While perfect for monsters, they’re also entirely usable by humans.

For example, each tin of Tinned Fear, as well as containing doses of fear in various strengths, also contains a short story by a famous human author.

The black range features stories by Laura Dockrill, Joe Dunthorne, Nick Hornby, David Nicholls and Zadie Smith. The white range, more suitable for children, features stories by Eoin Colfer, Charlie Higson, Meg Rosoff, Andy Stanton and Jeremy Strong. While the authors created the stories for inside the tins, I worked on the copy on the outside (along with a team of other volunteers), basing it on old pharmaceutical labels.


As well as Tinned Fear, we created a broad range of bespoke and everyday items for the Living, Dead and Undead:


Milk Tooth Chocolate (below) is a smooth milk chocolate with utterly delicious chunks of delicately roasted milk teeth. It is of course ethically sourced: ‘Our chocolate is made with only the finest quality molars, gathered by our skilled team of tooth fairies – and children are always paid a fair price for their teeth.’ It’s truly delicious (with an uncanny similarity to milk chocolate with hazelnut pieces).

And, there’s an added bonus – the inside of the wrapper has the beginnings of a short story by Francesca Simon (author of the Horrid Henry books). The story is about the tooth fairy, who is bored and fed up. Francesca has asked for any budding young writers amongst the shop’s customers to help finish the story for her – with the best results published on the Ministry of Stories website. The bars were produced by the lovely people at the rather brilliant Divine Chocolate.


I have collaborated with a host of other creative people on the project. Architecture practice Studio Weave approached with Ministry with an idea for a whole new range of products: Salt Made from Tears. We worked with them and salt supplier Halen Môn to create a unique selection of salts:


I also art directed the shop’s fantastic website, together with a team of brilliantly creative people, all giving their time for free. Read about that in this blog post. And check out the site itself for a rather nifty translation feature.


And of course, I designed the standard identity materials for the shop, including this traditional letterhead:


Hoxton Street Monster Supplies was nominated for a D&AD Award for Writing for Design, and was voted as the Best Kids’ Shop in London by Time Out magazine.


You can read more about the project in this D&AD case study.