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How I Started My Subscription Box Business

Fashion/Gift

This blog post has been sitting in my blogging queue for a few months now and has even accidentally posted a few times, ooops! The truth is that I was so busy working on my current Quarterly Box #MIZ15, which ships out at the end of this week, that I kept putting off writing this. I started the blog post 3 months ago. Shame on me. Bad blogger, bad!

The subscription box that I curate for Quarterly Co is inspired by my lifestyle and love for fitness. It is my passion project and a top priority for me. Until it's under wraps and finalized, sometimes I don't have a second to breathe. It's imperative that the finished product is just the way I imagined it (or way better) before it ships out to women across the world.

With that said, I can comfortably share that curating a subscription mailing or what we call a "subbox" for short, is a lot of work. But it's also a whole lot of fun too! If you're juggling different jobs or a few operations within your business (like me), it can often wear you down. So just be prepared for that--but I do mean it in a positive way. It's so much fun and creatively stimulating that you often work more hours on it that you would expect. On the flipside, if running a subbox is the only thing you're doing, well then I'm green with envy because I love the business of subscriptions so much, I know I'd enjoy focusing on it full-time without the stress of other things pulling me away.

That's pretty much why I'm writing this blog for you. I want to give you insight on what it's like and tell you about how I got started. If you're considering getting into the subscription mailing business, I highly recommend it! Especially if you have a novel idea that you know people across the country or maybe even all over the world might enjoy. This is what a few of my boxes have looked like...

Five years ago, it was my hunch that women aspiring to get fit would enjoy receiving tangible wellness trends and products delivered straight to their doorstep. It was around this time that Quarterly Co was develping their family of box curators. A friend of mine (actually an ex boyfriend), sent me an article about Quarterly Co that had been published on a financial news site. The article predicted that mailings like Quarterly's would become quite popular, offering companies many opportunities for marketing and outreach. In addition, it would offer celebrities and influencers a chance to monetize their following and influence

At this point in time, I was doing a lot of live tv segments where I'd go on-air and talk about the latest trends in fitness & fashion. I thought to myself, 'what if I could package everything I talk about on-air in one of Quarterly's boxes?' The money would be great but more than anything I'd finally be able to give my followers and audience something tangible. People don't always act on the information you provide on-air, and for me, after the segment was over...I was on to another buzz-worthy topic with no time for recaps. I was thinking this could be my way of giving Mizzfit loyalists a routine to live by.

So, that day, I emailed Quarterly and a higher up representative from their company got back to me to schedule a meeting. Within a month, I was an approved curator and had a box that I was in charge of designing myself with the support of a Quarterly staff member named Sarah (who has been my right hand woman and trusted planner on the box since we started).

From Box #MIZ01 to #MIZ13, there has been quite an evolution! Check it out for yourself as you compare the 2 videos below.

My first box ever (#MIZ01)

Most popular box in 2016 (#MIZ13)

My goal as we've progressed (I say "we" because the box has been a team effort with my family at Quarterly), is to fill each mailing with the latest, most functional and high performing products that will enhance my subscribers' lives. Some products are more fitness and nutritional based, incorporting items like workout equipment and delicious supplements.

Other products are more fashion, beauty and lifestyle inspired. For example, this Mini Styler by Amika was a product we spent nearly 6 months securing because we had to wait for the brand to have enough in stock at the right time to sell us for all the boxes. It was worth the wait, as I wanted to give my subscribers a hair styling option that met their needs in the gym's locker room or during travel.

Fitness is just as much about personal care and feeling great about how you look as it is about sweating it out in the gym. Novel products that have yet to trend constantly catch my eye for my Mizzfit Boxes. Like this cherry scented dry shampoo :)  You can find it now in many Ulta stores but when we put the Batiste travel size can in #MIZ13, it wasn't an easy product to find.

I love the exercise of searching for new products and researching upcoming trends. It's something I've been doing my entire life...but I had spent most of my energy just talking about it on television during my career as a host. When I teamed up with Quarterly, I now had an incredible platform to put a beautiful designed package of goods in the hands of my followers.

I'd love to hear your questions about subscription mailings. I will do my best to answer what I can. Don't be shy. An excellent resource aside from what you read here is the The Subcription Summit happening at the end of this month of May in 2017. Make sure to poke around their website and check out all the speakers. I was on one of their panels last year and can recommend it as a great investment. If you're unable to attend the May summit, there will definitely be more so just be sure to subscribe to their newsletter.

I'll come right out and say that it does help to have a large following or database of potential subscribers because the hardest part of the subbox biz is getting people to sign up. I was lucky enough to sign up enough subscribers to launch my box but the churn rate is an ongoing challenge for every subbox owner, curator and entrepreneur. People don't sign up forever. You're lucky if they subscribe for more than 1 box. But if they do become a loyal subscriber, your next challenge is to excel at delivering a recurring package that keeps them happy (in terms of quality), fulfilled (in terms of value) and excited about opening the next one...which brings me to my next piece of advice...

Don't jump into the subscription box world unless you have a great idea that can be recreated over and over again. For me, fitness fashion was an experiment. I didn't know if people were going to be interested in it past the athleisure bubble bursting. Luckily for me, it seems they still are. I have to be honest and say that I wasn't sure how long my mailing would last for but I was willing to take the risk with Quarterly as my partner.

One thing that I know helped the longevity of the Mizzfit Box is that I put a lot of work into expanding the parameters of what fitness fashion and wellness could be for my subscribers. I tested an array of different products and services in each box inspired by how I was using them in my life. Every quarter I reinvent the box because people want something new and reason to justify the $50 they're spending. I don't blame them! I would too!

I draw on pain points that my subscribers share with me, my personal interests that I know appeal to my followers, pop cultural innovations and seasonal events. If this sounds like something you envision doing within a category you live and die for (or that you see other people obsessing over) then you might have a wonderful opportunity on your hands!

Depending on how you start your box, you will need 3 things:

  • Strong relationships with brands related to your category or box theme.
  • A website on which to sell your box.
  • A distribution center for packing, labeling and shipping.

 

You could manage all these operations on your own, but remember what I said, it's a LOT OF WORK. I recommend teaming up with with people who share your vision because there's no way I would be able to run a subbox biz on my own.

I think it's also important to have someone who's great at marketing or PR on your team because for every subscriber you lose, you have to replace them with 5 new ones. It's vital to grow the subscription and get the word out, whether it's through discounts, free shipping, creative advertising or subscriber incentives.

Here's an example:  we started doing Golden Tickets for my boxes a few years ago. The prizes are REALLY AMAZING, like this Military Hippie puffer jacket I'm wearing in the pic below.

We randomly select at least 3 subscribers to win per box. Over 5 years, that's a lot of winners!

We even gave away a weekend stay at the Bryant Park Hotel in NYC. Check out how that went down right here :)  My subscribers look forward to the chance to win these higher priced items (without the need to enter or share additional personal information). It's our way of saying, WE LOVE YOU for being loyal to us and it helps us promote brands I absolutely love which are beyond our budget to include in every box.

These are a few of my SUBBOX SECRETS but if you'd like to continue the conversation, please leave your comments below. I'd love for you to check out my Quarterly Box that ships this week. I think we only have a few left since tomorrow is the deadline for sign-ups. But if you're lucky, you'll score one and get to experience my version of a Summer Body Revival before summer actually starts!

Sign up for it here: www.Quarterly.co/miz

Thanks for reading. Love ya!

 

written by Bianca Jade a.k.a Mizzfit

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fit couture

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