Friday 24 January 2020

These onions with googly eyes are the inspirational gifts you never knew you needed

Owner James Staerck says business is growing – and he knows his onions.

James and his onions
James and his onions

By Edd Dracott

In Benfleet, Essex, around the corner from Southend-on-Sea, there’s a growing business led by an ambitious young entrepreneur.

The trade? Onions. Not just any onions though – James Staerck’s business personalises the humble vegetable with googly eyes and a message of your choosing – and they put greetings cards to shame.

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“It was a spur-of-the-moment thing,” the 24-year-old, who gave up a career in teaching to start the business, told the Press Association. “I had an onion and thought: ‘Why don’t I put googly eyes on them?'”

For £6.49, Staerck’s site, Onion Express, offers to get an onion (sourced from Aldi) with your message to its recipient in three days – with a red or white onion to choose from.

The options on Onion Express

“Some people read a card once and then chuck it, but an onion hits you straight away,” said Staerck. “I don’t think you’d ever forget the day you were given an onion on your birthday or Valentine’s Day.

“It’s down to personal preference but I think I would use a red onion for a girl or guy you like, it’s romantic.

“But a white onion is more generic – it’s just an onion.”

The onions

Since its official launch two weeks ago, Staerck says business is growing, amassing over 450 orders through marketing on Facebook and Instagram – and the businessman says present turnover is £2,950, with total operating profits of £1,300.

“With good exposure we expect this to accelerate,” added Staerck, who said “with the expected growth” will be looking to start sending the onions overseas in due course.”

James working on one of the onions

What do you do with the onion when you receive it, then?

“They can put them on their shelf and on display,” said Staerck. “At the moment we advise not to eat the onions because there is ink on them.”

Despite Staerck’s success, it seems his mum isn’t too pleased with the abundance of onions filling his bedroom.

“I do need to think of a different plan on where I’m going to store them,” said Staerck.

James with the boxes of onions

So what does the future hold for this budding entrepreneur and his onions?

“There is actually a company in America which has had a lot of success with eggplants and they are a bit of an inspiration at the moment,” said Staerck. “We will focus on the onion for now but we will see potential other veg or goodies, depending on how it does.”

James with the onions

You can’t help but wish him the best of luck.

Now, if only there was an innovative way of sending him that message…

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