My Subscription Box Journey

blog Jun 26, 2022
My Subscription Box Journey

Earlier this year, I celebrated the five-year anniversary of my subscription box. Five years! That’s sixty curated boxes that went out to my subscribers each month. Those sixty boxes represent a lot of work and a lot of lessons learned. 

Any big anniversary is cause for celebration. It’s also a time to reflect. 

Today I’m going to share my own subscription box journey with you - the good parts and the less-than-good parts. Because as you’re learning from me, I want you to remember something.

 

I’ve been where you are.

Yep, exactly where you are.

  • Are you dreaming about a subscription box, but don’t know where to start? Yep, I’ve been there.
  • Are you planning a subscription box but running into obstacles at every turn because there’s SO MUCH you don’t know? Yep, I’ve been there, too.
  • Are you launching a subscription box and wondering if anyone is actually going to subscribe? Or, if they do, will they like what you send them? Oh, I remember those days!
  • Or do you have a successful subscription box, but find yourself wondering what you need to do to make it grow. Guess what? I spent some time there, too.

 

 

The truth is, no matter where you are in your subscription box journey, I’ve been in your shoes. 

Today, I have multiple subscriptions and thousands of subscribers that bring in 7-figures in revenue every year. My business employs more than a dozen people. 

But it didn’t start out that way. 

My subscription box journey started where so many of yours started - at my kitchen table. 

 

My subscription box story begins.    

I had already taken one BIG leap. I’d left my managerial position in a Fortune 500 retail company to pursue my dream of more. 

More freedom. More room to be creative. More time with my family. 

But giving up the dependable, count-on-it corporate paycheck was scary. Actually, it was terrifying. 

I made the decision to go all-in, quitting my job and opening my first store. Oh, how I loved that tiny, 600-square-foot space. 

 

 

I’d been making and selling items from home. After my first Christmas season, I knew I was on to something. I was ready to turn my creative side hustle into a full-time gig. 

The shop meant I had a place to make the products I sold and a place for my customers to come to pick them up. 

My tiny shop quickly became a place people came to when they wanted a custom gift. I had regular customers and just kept getting busier and busier. 

It was those regular customers - the ones who shopped in my store month after month - that first got me thinking about a subscription box. 

I got to know them, talked with them about who they were buying gifts for, and learned about their families. Many of them became friends who I looked forward to seeing every time they popped into my store.  

These customers-turned-friends got me thinking. 

How could I create something special for them? How could I treat them like the VIPs of my business they were? 

 

Figuring it out.  

The idea of a monthly subscription box quickly came to mind. I lay awake at night dreaming about curating a box of items I knew my customers would love. 

Imagining what I would put in my subscription boxes and how I would make them special for my customers was easy. What wasn’t easy was figuring out how to make it all work. 

After all, I wasn’t even selling anything online yet. 

 

 

I realized all the things I didn’t know. All the questions I had that I didn’t know the answers to.

  • How would I set up recurring payments? 
  • Where would I find the boxes? 
  • How would I handle shipping? 

 

These questions - and many more - paralyzed me for almost an entire year. But the idea of a subscription box wouldn’t go away. 

One day, I met with my website developer to make some changes to my website. At the end of the meeting, he asked if there was anything else he could help me with. 

Almost without thinking, I blurted it out. 

“I want to start a subscription box.” 

As soon as the words left my mouth, I worried my web developer would think I was crazy. After all, it was 2017. Subscription boxes were just starting to hit the mainstream market and only big brands were doing them. 

The good news? He didn’t think I was crazy. Instead, he asked a ton of questions about my idea. I explained all I had already figured out and the problem I just couldn’t solve - the logistics to make it work. 

It turns out, the piece that I couldn’t figure out… he could. 

My web developer knew how to set up the payments and product listings - all those things that were tripping me up. 

That’s when it hit me. My dream of a subscription box could become a reality. 

 

 

I happily spent the next few months doing research, finding products, ordering boxes, creating a logo, and figuring out what would make a great box. 

I wish I’d had a group like Launch Your Box back then to learn from and take my questions to! 

 

Launching and growing in year one.

I’d done all the prep work. It was time to set a goal and plan my launch. 

I spent some time looking at numbers. If I had 100 monthly subscribers, I could pay the bills at my retail location and cover a paycheck for myself. 

I decided to set a goal of reaching 100 subscribers by the end of the year. 

A subscription box would bring consistent, recurring revenue into my business. Revenue I could rely on month after month. 

I launched my Monogram Box™ in March. Or should I say, “launched” because I didn’t even know what a launch was!

When I ended up with 44 subscribers, I was so excited! 44 people believed in me enough to make a monthly commitment to me! 

 

 

I did a box opening on my Facebook page and gained another 25 subscribers the next month. And the month after that. 

That goal I’d set of having 100 subscribers by the end of the year? I reached it after only three months! The feeling of having that recurring revenue hitting my bank account each month was incredible. It meant security and stability. It meant I could breathe. 

But I wasn’t done growing. By the end of that first year, I had 300 subscribers. I felt invincible! 

 

 

Hitting a plateau.

I assumed that the growth I experienced in year one would continue. I’d seen growth every month, steady and consistent. Surely that would just continue, right? 

Nope. 

After nine months of growth, I plateaued. Hard. I stalled out at 300 subscribers and I needed to figure out what to do next. 

Looking back, I realize that I didn’t know what I didn’t know. I was trying to solve a puzzle without really knowing what the pieces were. 

At that point, nearly all of my subscribers were local. Everywhere I went, I’d see people wearing my shirts or carrying my bags. I needed to expand outside my area, but I didn’t know how. 

I was still figuring out the whole online world and didn’t know how to market to people outside my town. 

 

 

It was time to invest in me and in my business. 

I joined a coaching program and soaked up all the knowledge, especially when it came to social media. I learned and implemented that learning. Then I learned some more and implemented some more. 

Just like I teach inside Launch Your Box

During this time, my subscription wasn’t growing. In fact, my numbers started to decline. I still wasn’t connecting with people outside my community. 

I needed to figure out how to connect with people online the way I connected with the people who came into my store. 

I needed to show up online. 

That was difficult for me. I didn’t feel confident. I didn’t want to be the face of my business. Learn more about how I showed up even though I was scared in this blog post. 

 

 

But I had inventory - thousands of dollars of inventory - piling up on my shelves. And I had a belief that my subscription box could be more. That it was supposed to be more. 

So I invested in more training. And I forced myself to show up on camera. 

I showed up. 

 

 

I also realized I hadn’t been doing a good job of creating scarcity and urgency. I wasn’t giving people enough of a reason to buy. So I decided to move to a closed cart model. 

I was scared. But the truth was nothing that I’d tried for the past six months had worked. It was time to shake things up. 

I put my all into a closed cart launch. My goal was to get back to 300 subscribers. Instead, in only five days, I grew to 400 subscribers! 

By the end of that second year, I’d reached 600 subscribers. 

 

Giving my subscribers what they wanted.

In the third year, my subscription continued to grow. I planned to have three launches with a goal of reaching 1,000 subscribers by the end of the year. 

I focused on my subscribers. I wanted to create a true experience for them - to make my subscription something truly special. 

So I asked them what they wanted. 

 

 

I surveyed my subscribers and asked them what they loved about their subscription box, what they wanted more of, what they wanted less of, all the things. 

And what they told me - overwhelmingly - was that they wanted more t-shirts. They LOVED the t-shirts I designed for the boxes and they wanted more. 

So I decided to launch another subscription - the T-Shirt Club

 

 

My big lesson from that year is one I share with members of Launch Your Box every day. 

Listen to your subscribers! 

Give them more of what they want rather than trying to sell them what you want to sell. 

The T-Shirt Club grew even faster than my first subscription box. I launched with over 300 subscribers which meant I had already reached my goal of hitting 1,000 subscribers that year! 

By the end of 2019, I had more than 2,000 total subscribers. 

That was also the year the subscription box side of my business hit a million dollars in revenue! 

 

When is enough enough?

My subscription box business continued to grow even during the many challenges of 2020 and 2021. Sourcing products from overseas, sourcing enough products for my subscription boxes, being forced to close my brick and mortar for forty-five days at the beginning of the pandemic, and more. 

Despite all that 2020 threw at us, my subscription box business continued to grow. I ended that year with record sales and nearly 3,000 monthly subscribers!  

 

 

 

For 2021, I made the decision not to grow. We had grown so much during those first four years, it was time to settle into that growth and focus on retaining our subscribers. 

My goal was to see if I could remove the stress of a launch and maintain my subscriber numbers. My other goal was to spend less time at work and more time at home. 

My subscriber numbers stayed steady thanks to a strategy that consistently adds people to my waitlist. And I hired more team members, allowing me to leave work by 3:00 most days - in time to be there when my kids get home from school. 

I’ve built in some small growth for year six and look forward to seeing what this year holds for me and my subscription box business. So far, things are looking pretty great! 

 

 

Adding a subscription box changed my business. It changed my life. I was able to grow my business, give jobs to other busy moms in my town, and provide for my family in a way I’d never been able to do. 

Taking a chance on me, digging in and figuring it out, investing in myself, and showing up. I did all of those things. I focused on my customers and gave them what they wanted. 

And I’m still doing it. Still showing up, still curating amazing boxes every month, still finding new ways to surprise and delight my thousands of subscribers.

 

 

 

No matter where you are in your subscription box journey, I’ve been there. And I hope learning about my journey inspires you to take that next step forward. You can do this. I believe in you. 

 

Learn from me:

  • Subscription Box Blueprint eBook: This $10 ebook covers logistics from product selection to packaging to shipping. Plus a 90-day launch plan and bonus ‘Instant Scripts’ for your social media.
  • Launch Your Box: My complete training program walks you step by step through how to start, launch, and grow your subscription box business.
  • Launch Your Box Podcast: I share tons of practical tips and strategies to help you start, launch, and grow your subscription box business. You’ll also hear from industry experts and current Launch Your Box members who are crushing it - get ready to get inspired! 

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