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?
A couple of years ago I launched GozenGirls, an online book club for women focusing on non-fiction books. We also hold physical meetups where we discuss the book and take part in a mini-workshop based on the theme of the book. But of course, not everyone can attend the physical meetups.
I wanted to be able to give my audience the book club experience but from the comfort of their own home, which is where the idea for a subscription box came from. It was during a trip to Bali earlier in January this year that I started to build the concept of WILDWOMAN. The branding came first, followed by the box itself, and then building relationships with publishers, authors and suitable gift brands.
What attracted you to the subscription box model?
I liked the idea of giving a gift every month that was curated by me and was more than just a book in a box. I think the subscription box model also lends itself well to building communities too, which is a big part of WILDWOMAN.
How did you validate your idea and test the market?
I asked my existing community whether they would be interested in a regular book subscription box and the answer was yes. I also found that there was currently no subscription box of this type available in the UK.
How did you acquire your first customers?
I did a significant round of gifting to influencers and my community in the first month, which helped to build a buzz around the launch of WILDWOMAN.
Did you raise any seed or investor funding to help you grow?
No, WILDWOMAN is an entirely homegrown / kitchen table business at the moment.
How long have you been running now and what are your most successful achievements and milestones so far?
WILDWOMAN has been live since August 2018, so not long, but in that time we have received some fantastic press and coverage from the likes of Forbes and Zoella.
With the rise of new boxes launching all the time, what do you see as your USP that sets you apart from your competitors?
We are the UK's only fiction, self-care subscription box for women - to be the first is exciting.
How does your business continue to find new and exciting products to keep your customers engaged and excited every month?
We meet with publishers and brands to curate and theme each box. Because each box is themed around something different it opens up heaps of ideas - our boxes are currently planned four months in advance!
Have there been any particularly pivotal moments so far that have required you to make changes to how you operate?
WILDWOMAN is currently not a full-time job for me, and I am currently a one-woman band so adjusting my time has been the biggest pivotal moment, especially in the last month after some excellent press coverage. As WILDWOMAN grows my part-time job decreases - I am lucky to be a position to be able to change that as I need to.
How large is your team? What type of roles do they have?
It's just me! My friends and family help out with packing though!
Across all operational areas of your business, what do you manage in-house and what do you outsource to external suppliers to support you with - and why is this?
Everything is in-house at the moment, and I'd like to keep it this way for as long as possible. It's important to me to build a business that is organic. One day I'd love for friends and family actually to be working for the company - a family run business is something I'd love WILDWOMAN to become. Who knows though - it very much depends on our growth and the doors that open!
What types of challenges do you face with fulfilment, delivery and customer service?
We had one month where our box suppliers could not fulfil our box printing on time which meant our shipment was late. This was challenging but being as open and honest about what had happened to our audience worked really well.
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'm excited to see where the subscription market will go in the next 12 months. For WILDWOMAN, knowing how much the box could grow each month and making sure we have enough product to fulfil each order without compromising cash flow is likely to be the biggest challenge.
It's a lot of chicken and egg situations! Fast growth is not always the best strategy with something like subscription box marketing; however, we are meeting our growth targets every month. Slow and steady wins the race don't they say?!
What do you enjoy most about running your subscription box business?
I LOVE curating each box. I love giving gifts so to be putting together boxes and boxes of gifts for each subscriber makes me very happy. Seeing people share a video or a picture online of when their box arrives is one of the best feelings! You feel a bit like Santa!
What excites you about uOpen, and how do you see the marketplace featuring in your business' future?
I'm excited to be part of a shapeshifting community. The subscription market in the UK is not as massive as the US, but with the support and cheerleading of uOpen and the community I hope that we can all champion each other and put the UK on the map for subscription box marketing!