Ship Foliage, the New England Leaf Startup, Is Expanding for Thanksgiving

Simply unbeleafable.

Photos Courtesy of Kyle Waring

Photos Courtesy of Kyle Waring

At first glance, it’s tempting to write off Ship Foliage, the Boston-based startup that’ll ship you or a loved one three prime New England leaves for $19.99, as a manifestation of the innovation community’s hubris. After all, the microventure is built on the success of mastermind Kyle Waring’s earlier project, Ship Snow, Yo, which was quite possibly the closest anyone has gotten to literally selling ice to Eskimos.

Perhaps we New Englanders are jaded. Each year, we’re treated to a foliage fantasia, the likes of which folks in the palm-lined streets of Florida and the arid, planned communities of Arizona could only dream of. It’s nature’s flannel. Who could blame the outsiders for wanting in on that? Or for the expat New Englander, a reminder of home?

Business is blooming, Waring says. Ship Foliage has surpassed its 1,000-leaf mark, with as many as 360 orders filled. He and his wife routinely work until 3 a.m., toiling to get the packages out on-time. “We’ve had to figure out how to scale the operation a little bit, but still have a really, really nice product at the end,” he says. Each package of leaves, which takes a week to preserve before shipping, comes with a handwritten note.

Waring is meticulous about his leaf selection, favoring maple leaves and the occasional sugar maple from the North Shore, New Hampshire, and Vermont. “They’re just kind of what they think of. It’s your prototypical foliage—bright red, Canadian maple is what I think of immediately when I think of foliage,” he says, adding that tree-by-tree selection could be a few years down the road.

Photo courtesy of Kyle Waring.

Photo courtesy of Kyle Waring

Waring also noticed that, rather than for their nostalgia factor, customers were using the leaves for arts-and-crafts projects. In response, Ship Foliage launched their “Thanksgiving do-it-yourself” package Tuesday, which includes five, preserved New England leaves and all the fixings for two greeting cards.

“I used to live in Dubai, which, as you’d imagine, is very seasonless,” Waring says. “It’s super hot, summer all the time. When I came back to where I grew up in New England, I just became instantly obsessed with the seasons. I think that a lot of people have that emotional connection with the seasons. It’s not just, ‘Oh, here’s a leaf.’ It’s a little reminder and a piece of what you experienced as a kid, jumping into a leaf pile in the crisp, cool air.”

With winter and fall conquered, Waring says he has no desire to monetize summer or spring. In other words, the path has been all but cleared for that Revere Beach sand-in-a-jar startup you’ve been kicking the tires on.