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How to start a monthly subscription box business

Have you thought of starting a monthly subscription boxes business or do you already have a business that lends itself to this business model?

If so, starting or adding your own subscription box business might be easier than you think!

When I had my online organic soap store, in addition to offering individual bars of soap, I also offered a “soap of the month club,” where subscribers got three new bars of soap every month for as long as they were a member.

That's one way to do it, but you can also partner with other complementary companies and offer an assortment of related or themed products as a monthly subscription.

Or you can start your own monthly subscription box business from scratch by selecting a theme for each box, curating products to fit into each theme and marketing your box to potential subscribers.

So when Nicole Torres, creator of Diosa Box (which is a box full of amazing self-care products for women), reached out to me to review their box, I was very excited for three reasons:

  1. I LOVE LOVE LOVE subscription boxes and I personally subscribe to a few of them each month
  2. I'm planning on launching a new service specifically for subscription box owners (stay tuned!)
  3. There are many Launch Grow Joy readers who have their own monthly subscription box business and I am excited to share some marketing tips and strategies that have worked very well for Nicole and her team

Nicole selected Gratitude as the theme for this month and all of the products in the box reflect this theme:

  • Finding Gratitude Journal from Compendium – to write down things that you are grateful for
  • Kona Body Scrub – to nourish and heal the skin by hydrating and softening
  • Green Goddess Face Mask from Queen City Alchemy – to gently exfoliate while packing in TONS of anti-aging vitamins and minerals
  • Nourish Face Serum from Queen City Alchemy – the perfect pick me up for dry, dull skin, made with a unique blend of “liquid gold”
  • Pike Place Herbs – to make your Thanksgiving meal a hit

When I opened the box, I instantly felt excited, grateful and curious to discover each product. I've been using the journal daily and have incorporated the beauty products into my skincare routine and the herb mix is already all gone! It was that good!

Now, imagine if your customers felt this way, too, each time they got something from your company! With a monthly subscription box, they can!

I also reached out to Nicole to find out what inspired her to start Diosa Box and asked her to share some of her marketing and customer acquisition strategies.

1. What inspired you to start Diosa Box?

I was working at a large corporation and have been in the same industry for a while. I was working 14 hour days sometimes and other days were fun, but I was definitely feeling for a long time the I wanted to do something “more” and, by that, I meant more meaningful.  I was surrounded by amazing women who worked incredibly hard and I thought doing something to make them feel appreciated and bring some joy was something that I wanted to do. My business partner who was in a similar boat of working crazy hours with the desire to do something more happens to be an expert in online retail, so we started talking about subscription box models and noticed the trend was good, so I got to work to develop the brand that is now Diosa Box.

2. What are some of the strategies you used to launch your subscription box?

We focused on community outreach via Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. We searched for social influencers that represented the women we wanted to reach out to and asked them if they were interested in trying out the box and giving us feedback. Finding the right people and channels to market through is the hardest part.  We couldn't just stick to “all-natural” and ‘”beauty bloggers” since our ultimate goal is to reach out to women who are not normally doing this “self-care” for themselves.  I understand being a new company means we first need to do a lot of trust-building, so we try to stay engaged with our audience as much as possible. But I'm confident that with time, the reviews will speak for themselves and more women will start to realize the connection between self-care and overall happiness.  So, as a result, our influencers are of a pretty great mix of women. As they say, you don't find your niche, your niche finds you.

3. How do you find products for Diosa Box?

I actually do a lot of my searching through Instagram and Etsy and I read a lot of blogs! I like to get to know the vendors and see what their experience is, how big of an operation they have and what their stance is on “all-natural”. We try really hard to be as all-natural as possible but we mostly look to avoid things like parabens, SLS, heavy metals, mineral oils, and petroleum-based fragrances. We like to build a relationship with our vendors so that we move forward with each other's success as a shared goal. Instagram is great for cross-brand promotion and building up content for your brand.

4. What advice do you have for brands who are looking to work with subscription box companies?

Reach out! Product procurement is a lot of work, although it's fun.  A lot of subscription boxes have very specific guidelines to follow in order to stay true to their brand. For example, we're all-natural, so I only take all-natural products. I would recommend that brands get to know the box they are interested in and understand their company culture.  Also, having a wholesale list of all your SKU's with pictures and case pack sizes is so helpful for us. What is great is that most of us operate on a new “theme” every month so if you don't fit in today you could fit in very soon!

5. What are some of the biggest challenges to running a subscription box company?

Everything is pretty easy if you have the experience, but like all new businesses, it's the time management that makes or breaks you. There are SO many little things that need to get done on a very tight deadline. It's actually is a lot of work if you don't have help. You're a social media manager, photographer, client relations expert, product procurement researcher, web developer, and you handle logistics, shipping and packing, email marketing and quality control. Basically, it's time management on steroids.  Starting a subscription box business isn't easy but you just have to make it work, and for me, I love what I am doing and I hope that people will love it, too.  The next challenge is getting people to actually buy your product, a product that is competing with everyone else's. That's every business's challenge and what makes it dynamic and exciting when you get a sale, or a win as I like to call it.

6. How are you currently acquiring subscribers for your monthly subscription boxes?

We are driving traffic organically via our Instagram and website pop up and sign up list, as well as a few Facebook ads. Most of our subscribers have been through word of mouth or through our YouTube reviews from ladies who did live unboxing videos. We are hoping to get in touch with a few female entrepreneur-focused podcasts to make people aware of us too.

7. What role does social media play into your marketing strategy?

It's a major role in all aspects of our business!

In the comments below, I'd love to know if:

  • you have any questions for Nicole
  • you subscribe to one or more monthly subscription boxes
  • you own a subscription box company

I hope you enjoyed Nicole's tips and if you're looking to start your own monthly subscription boxes business, check out the tools at CrateJoy.

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  1. We have a natural bath & body products company and have toyed with the idea of a monthly box. The idea is brewing but we haven’t made the leap yet. I’d love to learn more about it!

  2. Thanks for a great article! I have a sub box of my own handmade products, and it’s good to know that many of my successes and struggles are shared across the industry.

  3. I just launched Hawaii’s first coffee of the month club and have yet to send my box to some youtubers. I’d love to see an unboxing on video! Thanks for reminding me to do that. -Marina

  4. Do the businesses donate their product? Do they pay a fee on top of that with the promise that your promote them on social media?

  5. I was thinking of starting a box service. But when I looked at Cratejoy, it seemed to be so expensive to pay for that service and you still have to get your own supplies! If you are trying to get customers and not selling, you still have their monthly fee, and won’t be making any money until you begin to make sales, and that fee is not cheap. Any suggestions about that and initially getting off the ground? Thx

  6. I would like to know more about the podcast! Did it start already? How can we connect? I own a subscription box for teachers.

  7. We have started a Comfort & Care package from our counseling agency. My question is where to learn how to professionally pack the box? Than you.

  8. Hey hii this is for Nicole.. I want to start my own subscription box of beauty wellness and snacks box’s, self care as well as grooming so I’m bit confused that how can I make it successful.. please reply

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