12 back-to-school brands you've never heard of (but are about to fall in love with)

Shop small and independent with these little-known back-to-school brands

Mother and smiling daughter shopping for kid's wear in shop
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Let them stand out from the crowd with Back To School essentials from these boutique labels.

If you’re frantically shopping for everything from the best school shoes to all the essential back-to-school supplies, it can be tempting to hit it all in one fell swoop. But that can be stressful, with shops full of frazzled parents - so instead think about buying them something a little out of the ordinary. Most schools in the UK have a uniform policy and stores like ASDA, M&S, John Lewis and Amazon are great for the basics, but, when it comes to things like rucksacks, pencil cases, stationery, and water bottles, many headteachers give you free rein to choose them something a little more personal. 

Take the opportunity and shop at smaller, independent brands. Many of these little-known labels are still easy to buy online from websites like Not On The High Street and Etsy – it’s just a case of knowing what’s out there. Whether you’re shopping for primary-schoolers or teenagers, we’ve compiled a list of the 12 best back-to-school brands that you’ve never heard of.  

Personalised colouring pencils

(Image credit: Not On The High Street)

Able Labels

Delivery: UK Standard £3.99
Personalised items aren’t refundable unless faulty; otherwise 28 days.

Designed in rural Northamptonshire, Able Labels has been creating personalised stationery for over 65 years. It’s now branched out to include clothing, toys, bags, and towels, and its creations are characterised by their vibrant, bold colours, perfect for brightening things up on their first day back in the classroom.

Top Pick: These personalised pencils have been hand-stamped with vintage gold lettering to ensure they don’t go walkabout.

School talking tokens

(Image credit: Not On The High Street)

Arlo & Jude

Delivery: UK Standard £3.95
Refundable: 28 days

This brand was established in 2015 after its founder made a ‘superhero T-shirt’ for her son to stop him from feeling scared and anxious. Since then, the label has grown and it now offers a number of products designed to help children deal with confidence and self-belief, including brave bracelets, worry dolls, and talking tokens.

Top Pick: These talking tokens encourage children to talk about their school day and help them open up about concerns or worries, but also focus on the positive things. 

First School Uniform Hanger

(Image credit: Etsy)

WallFrog Graphics

Delivery: £2.45
Refundable: Cannot refund personalised items unless faulty

Based in Blackpool, this brand creates a range of personalised gifts for everything from christenings to weddings. Many of its products use natural wood or slate in an attempt to avoid plastics.

Top Pick: Mark their first day at school with these gorgeous personalised wooden hangers. Customise the hanger finish and the ribbon colour for a pretty addition to their wardrobes and a memorable keepsake for years to come.

Green dinosaur bag

(Image credit: Etsy)


Delivery: £3.99
Cannot refund personalised items unless faulty

This family business specialises in gorgeous, hand-drawn, personalised products, including baby clothes, bags, lunch boxes, and even dog blankets. Icklepeanuts’ adorable motifs feature dinosaurs, safari animals, and rainbows in chic, muted hues so you’ll always find something that gets both their and your seal of approval.   
Top Pick: Send them off to school with everything they need in this personalised dinosaur rucksack.

Beatrice & Barley first day of school present

(Image credit: Etsy)

Beatrice & Barley

Delivery: £2.95
Refundable: Yes

Beatrice & Barley creates luxury baby and kids’ gift sets, perfect for marking a special celebration. All their products are thoughtfully handpicked and many of the items in their boxes are exclusives that you won’t find anywhere else.

Top Pick: Banish those school blues with this First Day At School Hamper. It comes with a Peter Rabbit book, gingerbread rabbit, pocket hug, and handmade crayons.

Don't Worry Doll

(Image credit: Not On The High Street)

Marvling Bros Ltd

Delivery: FREE
Refundable: 28 days

Marvling Bros Ltd was created by Emma Dobie and Hayley Madden in 2013 and specialises in creating teeny-tiny gifts the size of a matchbox. It’s been featured on Good Morning and, whether it’s growing your own seeds or a tiny cross-stitch, these miniature presents will always make them smile.

Top Pick: Let them manage their anxieties with this miniature worry doll, perfect for slipping into a pencil case or rucksack.

I Love School Clip Set

(Image credit: Rockahula)

Rockahula Kids

Delivery: £2.95, free over £25
Refundable: Up to 30 days

Rockahula Kids is here to liven things up in the hair accessories department with sparkling stars, glittering dinosaurs, and colourful rainbows the norm. Even if your school has a strict uniform policy, you’ll find just what you need in their Back To School collection of clips, hand bands, bobbles, and sides.    

Top Pick: Featuring a book, ruler, and pencil, these hair clips are the perfect complement to a school uniform.  

Personalised First Day Of School Chocolate Board

(Image credit: Not On The High Street)

La De Da Living!

Delivery: £3.99
Personalised items aren’t refundable unless faulty; otherwise 28 days.

Sisters Dominique and Rita created La De Da Living! in 2011 in response to their desire to find unique gifts that would be treasured forever. Best known for being ‘The home of hand stamped vintage cutlery’, they have now branched out into other personalised gifts for the entire family.

Top Pick: This personalised ‘First Day’ board comes with three sweet treats, the ideal pick-me-ups for that post-school energy slump.

Butterfly Garden Lunch Box With Tray

(Image credit: Rex London)

Rex London

Delivery: £3.95
Refundable: Up to 30 days

Rex London started up as a market stall on Portobello Road in London, before being stocked in the likes of Habitat. It specialises in quirky products with brightly coloured retro prints – think jumbo storage bags, water bottles, notepads, and biscuit tins.

Top Pick: These vibrant lunchboxes with their 50s ditsy and animal prints are bound to be the envy of the school canteen.

Penguin Toddler Bottle Steel

(Image credit: Waterdrop)


Delivery: £5.90, free over £49
Refundable: Up to 14 days from delivery

Waterdrop’s mission is to encourage you to drink more water and live a longer, healthier, and more sustainable life. It wants to banish the use of plastic (here, here) and it estimates its products have saved up to 30 million plastic bottles being used and then discarded.

Top Pick: Make drinking water fun with these animal-inspired stainless steel water bottles. Their specially designed spout has been created for little ones to make sipping easier.

Red soft cover notebook

(Image credit: Not Another Bill)

Not Another Bill

Delivery: £4.95, free over £75
Up to 14 days

Initially founded as a gift subscription service, Not Another Bill has branched out into personalised gifts with a design-led element. When it comes to back-to-school, they stock everything from stationery and tech accessories to bags and water bottles.

Top Pick: At least they can start the term being organised with this smart A5 notebook. And you can add a name, monogram, or motif to ensure it doesn’t get lost in class.

Personalised Leather Air Pods Case With Keyring Loop

(Image credit: Holdall & Co)

Holdall & Co

Delivery: Free
Personalised items aren’t refundable unless faulty; otherwise 28 days.

This independently owned family business specialises in creating beautiful and functional leather goods that are made to last. Based in Northamptonshire, Holdall & Co uses high-quality vegetable-dyed full-grain leather, sourced from the finest tanneries in their products, which include leather keyrings, pouches, and coasters.

Top Pick: The perfect gift for the teen who’s always asking: ‘Muuuummm, have you seen my Airpods?’ This leather Airpod case can be personalised with up to three letters or numbers and comes with a handy keyring loop.  

Once you've finished browsing the best back-to-school brands you've never heard of, have a look at our guide to great first day of school traditions to do with your kids for some inspiration ahead of September.

Charlotte Duck

Charlotte Duck is an award-winning lifestyle and parenting journalist who writes who regularly writes for Tatler, the Evening Standard, Yahoo, and Hello Magazine about everything from royal hairstyles to fixed-rate mortgages. She was previously Kidswear Editor at M&S and worked in-house at Boden but, while she loves writing about beautiful children's clothes, she has three children who refuse to wear them.