This is part of uOpen’s 'Industry Insights' interview series - a valuable collection of informative and intelligent insights into how some of the UK's best-known and most-loved subscription box businesses came to be and got to where they are - all shared by the very people who made it happen...
Covering customer acquisition to fulfilment, this blog series offers a behind the scenes look at how the many moving parts of these complex, yet successful operations come together each month to satisfy the ever-growing demand of subscription box customers in the UK.
How did the idea for your subscription box come about?
The idea for my box came when I was looking for Korean beauty products in the UK, but I had trouble finding them on the UK high street. I thought about myself, and how I would love it if I could get a beauty box of KBeauty to discover my new favourite products.
When I started to explore this idea, I asked women in lots of different Facebook groups if they would buy KBeauty - the response was positive. From there, I developed the concept into what it is now which is a one-off KBeauty box of four weekly face sheets and five luxury skincare samples.
What attracted you to the subscription box model?
At the moment, I'm selling one-off Korean Beauty Starter Kits so people can dip their toes in KBeauty first. If they like what they get in their boxes, then I have my quarterly subscriptions, where I curate 5 Kbeauty skincare products for them and send it to them every three months. I think this is the right amount of time to try new products and discover new ones.
How did you validate your idea and test the market?
I validated my idea by surveying women that I didn't know. Often, if you ask friends and family, they'll say it's a good idea even if they don't like it. I created a survey and gave people the chance to tell me their honest opinion.
I looked at data too - I saw that KBeauty is an emerging trend in the West, and I could already see that Kbeauty was getting big in the States - so I wanted to bring a little of that Kbeauty magic over here to the UK too.
But the best validation for me was meeting people at exhibitions and selling my beauty boxes in person. The response told me that I had a proof of concept and I was on the right path. All I had to do was reach more people and show my passion for KBeauty online.
How did you acquire your first customers?
My first online customer came to me from Google. I was so happy that someone could find me in the big, vast world of the internet. My first offline customer was at a startup exhibition. I like selling offline as well because it's nice to see people's faces when they receive my beauty boxes in person. I love seeing their first impression and how they seem so genuinely interested in discovering Kbeauty.
Did you raise any seed or investor funding to help you grow?
I'm bootstrapping my startup at the moment. I'm looking to fundraise soon so that I can build a good team around me and scale up. My goal is to make Kbeauty mainstream here in the UK because I think they have such fantastic quality products at excellent prices, and more people should know about it. I think that's a big goal, but it's possible, and I think fundraising will help me to get there faster.
How long have you been running now and what are your most successful achievements and milestones so far?
I launched my online shop in June, but it was in beta for some time, and I officially launched in September. My most successful milestones were the first offline and online sales because that showed me that people wanted to buy KBeauty in the UK.
I was also part of an incubator at Launch22 which helped me validate the business. My favourite achievement from that was pitching in front of investors and the startup community.
With the rise of new boxes launching all the time, what do you see as your USP that sets you apart from your competitors?
My USP is that I'm introducing people to KBeauty. It's an emerging trend here in the UK, so some people already use KBeauty. But because it's emerging, it also means that there are a lot of people who are unfamiliar with it - that's where Luckyface comes in.
I curate one-off starter kits so people can get a taster of what KBeauty is and how good it is. As my beauty boxes are one-off, people feel like they can give it a try to see if it's for them. In my experience, once you start using KBeauty, it's hard to go back to using high street skincare.
How does your business continue to find new and exciting products to keep your customers engaged and excited every month?
I'm always trying new products and discovering my new favourites. Whenever I find a cleanser that I like, I always think that it is my favourite and then a couple of weeks later, I find another one I love even more.
I'm also active on Instagram, and I'm always reading what other beauty influencers are recommending. I'll make a note of it on my phone, and when I get the chance, I like to try it out for myself to see if it's good for me.
How do you see the subscription box industry is evolving and what do you believe are going to be your biggest challenges over the next 12 months?
I think that there'll be more subscription boxes on the market. With a platform like uOpen, I think more people will want to create a subscription box and test it out for themselves. I think this is good for the industry because it means all the players have to work hard to develop their USP. Plus, it's good for the consumer because they'll have even more choice.
What do you enjoy most about running your subscription box business?
I love that I'm able to curate the best of KBeauty in a box for them. I also love being able to curate an experience for my customers.
What excites you about uOpen, and how do you see the marketplace featuring in your business' future?
uOpen is excellent for my business because it will help me reach new audiences. I definitely see uOpen being part of my long-term business' future.