Subscription Box Basics with Julie Ball

Behind the Scenes with Krysta of My Christmas Snowflake

February 22, 2021 Julie Ball Episode 62
Subscription Box Basics with Julie Ball
Behind the Scenes with Krysta of My Christmas Snowflake
Subscription Box Basics with Julie Ball
Behind the Scenes with Krysta of My Christmas Snowflake
Feb 22, 2021 Episode 62
Julie Ball

#062 - In this episode, Julie chats with Krysta of My Christmas Snowflake. 

Krysta is a star student by way of the podcast. She literally binged the podcast, took the information, applied it, and started her own subscription box business.

Tune in to hear Krysta shares her journey of launching My Christmas Snowflake, the challenges along the way, how she overcame them, and some actionable advice for those who want to launch their own subscription box.

Links: -- Use the code FIRSTTIME50 to get 50% off

Show Notes Transcript

#062 - In this episode, Julie chats with Krysta of My Christmas Snowflake. 

Krysta is a star student by way of the podcast. She literally binged the podcast, took the information, applied it, and started her own subscription box business.

Tune in to hear Krysta shares her journey of launching My Christmas Snowflake, the challenges along the way, how she overcame them, and some actionable advice for those who want to launch their own subscription box.

Links: -- Use the code FIRSTTIME50 to get 50% off

Julie (00:01): So you want to launch a subscription box and don't know where to start? Girl, you are in the right place. I'm Julie Ball, a subscription box coach and your host here at Subscription Box Basics, a podcast for new and aspiring subscription box entrepreneurs that want to avoid overwhelm. So grab a coffee, some pen, and paper, and let's have some fun!

Hey, everybody, welcome back to Subscription Box Basics, the podcast. This is Julie here, and I have got a guest on with me today, but before I introduce her, let me paint the picture a little bit here. It was over Christmas time and I get a mystery box in the mail and I'm like, "What is this?" And my husband's like, "What did you buy?" And my daughter's like, "Ooh, what's that? Let me open it." And because it was this box that we didn't recognize, right?

So we opened it up. It's like my Christmas snowflake. And I'm like, what is this? And I open it up. And there's the most beautiful heartwarming note in there out of the blue that this girl that you're about to meet this bossbabe, this subscription box business owner is a star student by way of the podcast. She literally binged the podcast, took the information, applied it and started her own subscription box. And it was such a moment of like, I don't even know how to explain it. I was just overwhelmed with gratitude and joy and I just started crying and McKenna started tearing open the box and we started hanging all the things all over the tree. And it was just a beautiful, beautiful moment for us as a family. And for me as a coach to see this come to fruition. So without further ado, I would like you to meet Krysta who is the founder and CEO of my Christmas Snowflake. Welcome Krysta!

Krysta (01:43): Hello! Hi Julie. Thank you so much for that awesome introduction. That was so sweet.

Julie (01:50): Well, you just made my day and you know, it's, it's hard to hustle. It's hard to, you know, show up for people all the time and when you get something unexpected like that, and it's beautiful, like you did such a good job on your box too, so I'm just like this proud mama bear. So for those of you who haven't heard of Krysta before, would you go ahead and introduce yourself, give your, give a little bit about your background and then we'll dive into the box.

Krysta (02:17): Absolutely. And before I do that, I just have to thank you as well for providing this podcast and everybody who's listening probably already knows how awesome it is if they're on this episode, but, it's hard out there, you know, to find information that is applicable and actually can help you move forward. And I opened this podcast and I was like, "Oh my goodness, a podcast full of actual information, tangible that you can apply." And you just tell that you have such a good heart and you just give so much, I cannot imagine how amazing your programs are because if the podcast is this good, then I cannot even imagine the value in those. So thank you too, for showing up for people.

Julie (03:00): You're going to make me cry. Gosh! Thank you. Okay. Let's hear about you.

Krysta (03:08): Yes. Yes. So, well hello everyone. I'm born and raised in PA, and went to Penn State also.

Julie (03:17): Me too!

Krysta (03:17): That's the only thing I felt like this was like, meant to be, as soon as I found your podcast. Cause I was like, "Oh, we have the same Alma mater go PSU." So, that was awesome. And I mentioned Penn State because in college I studied marketing. And for me, a lot of people go to school. They feel like their major kind of tells them what kind of job they want. And for me, I studied that and thought, "Okay, I'm going to own a business and I'm going to apply all of this." Although, you know, it changes everyday now with marketing, but what I learned back, that'd probably isn't even current now, but it still solidified for me the entrepreneur path.

And I always had a side hustle going, always was just finding new ways to bring in a little extra money here and there. I joined the network marketing company at 18. So I've always been bitten by the bug they say for a long time. So college took me to Florida for a corporate job. I lived there for, six years, still had a side hustle there. I was an independent contractor for two digital marketing agencies all while working my job. So, just always loved the area.

Julie (04:27): Where at in Florida were you?

Krysta (04:28): Delray Beach, Florida.

Julie (04:31): Okay, I'm not familiar with that one. Yeah. My bestie lives in Orlando and then Shipmonk is our warehouse. They're actually based in Fort Lauderdale, even though our warehouse itself is in Pennsylvania, but they're based in Fort Lauderdale. So I always like to do business trips.

Krysta (04:47): Of course I heard that episode. So I was already looking, I was already looking at that place too. And Lauderdale was about 30 minutes from me. I was really close to there. Yeah, it's ah Florida, so beautiful.

Julie (05:00): I love it.

Krysta (05:00): I do miss it, but that led, my husband and I to move back to Pennsylvania and we wanted to be close to family and all that good stuff. And I kind of stepped away from the agencies and started my own business, around email marketing and social media management, content, writing, things like that. And, it brings it full circle to now where I was on the search to start a subscription box, not anywhere close to what I'm actually doing. And when I was in my research, I found you, your podcast. And then that really solidified the next step for me though, that I was like, I can do this. So that's where we're at now.

Julie (05:40): Awesome! We do have a lot of similarities in our background, with not only being from PA and going to Penn state, but also before I started my subscription box business, I also ran a digital agency, so to speak. We focus mostly on website design and development and branding that type of thing. But I mean, you probably agree with this. I would assume that all of that work helped us become better business owners because we can do those things for ourselves, especially in the scrappy beginnings. You know, when you wear all the hats, it's like, okay, I'm really glad I learned how to build a website because that's what I started with. And I'm really glad I learned how to write a good email, a decent email, at least I'm not really great at writing emails. Renea does that for me, and I'm really grateful for that, but yeah, at the beginning, when you're scrapping, you got to do everything on your own. I imagine that all really came in handy.

Krysta (06:31): Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. And you know, I had that background, but I quickly realized subscription boxes are like, mismash of product and services. And honestly, like I'll say it till the day I die that your podcast just gave me like all the holes I needed filled because I did have that background, but it really just filled in the blanks of like, okay, I need to ship boxes. How do I ship? How do I launch what's a good strategy? So I mean, it definitely helped play into it though, for sure.

Julie (07:04): I'm so glad. Okay. So let's tell everybody about your box. So tell them about your box specifically, who you serve with it and then what problem you solve with it.

Krysta (07:14): Sure. Yeah. So as you said, it is called My Christmas Snowflake and, I always come back to that this boxes' goal is literally pure joy. And I know that is probably a lot of boxes' goals is to bring joy to people, but really it's our only mission. So it's very much a fun box and something just to bring a smile to your face. And I don't know the holidays, at least for me anyway, always seem to hold like, like some magic. Like I always say in my marketing, they just make everybody feel cozy and warm. And, we've just had great feedback from our subscribers that they just love getting that little piece of joy all year so far. You know, we're not that far in, but they've loved getting it, after Christmas even, and just having, you know, bringing that little sparkle and magic to their life.

So, who we serve is kind of two-fold. So along with that, I always say, it's the person that holds like memories to Christmas or, they really just want to relive that moment. And it kind of, it means that to me too, I had some health struggles when I was in Florida and, it was, I had them through the holidays and my roommates decorated our apartment for Christmas in July because I was not there when it was Christmas time. And it was just, I'll always hold that memory. And we did have some feedback from our subscribers. One particular lady reached out and said, she thanked me for reopening her mind to the holidays because her mother had passed. And she said that they always used to go every year and get an ornament together for the holidays. And she said that the box arriving at her door kind of reopen that memory for her and she thanked me for it.

So I was like, "Ah, like God is the gold, joy and warm thing." Good memories. And, I love it. And then the other side of that is we kind of, definitely served the guilty pleasure, Christmas shopper. So our Christmas in July people, or you being in North Carolina, I've probably been to some of the Christmas shops that are all year they're up in the outer banks and everything. So like, you know, it's August and 90 degrees out and the parking lot's full of people buying Christmas decor. So definitely that's our, that's who we serve the Christmas lover.

Julie (09:32): That's so cool because I did think about that. As I was trying to like envision, what does this box look like in April and then in August and things like that. And then I remembered, we were, you know, we live in the Western North Carolina mountains and there's Christmas shops here too, and they're year round. So if you know, if you're listening and you haven't been to those they exist.

There are these Christmas super fans. And, you know, they put things like Santa Claus in, swimming trunks and, you know, to make it more relevant. And it's just, it's super fun. It's super popular. You wouldn't believe it, but it is this really good niche. And I always talk about niching down and you really are tapping into that. And fun fact, I was married to my husband on July 25th. So we have a Christmas in July anniversary.

And as you were talking about the memories, I just immediately started going back to my childhood. I grew up along one of the three rivers that converges in Pittsburgh, and we had friends that lived along some of the creeks, or as we call them creeks and rivers and at Christmas on Christmas in July, all the boats would decorate with lights and would do like this Christmas parade down the creek.

And I had forgotten about it until you just started talking about Christmas memories and Christmas in July memories. And our family has a lot of Christmas traditions that we do in December. But now that I think about it, it's in July as well. And I imagine you can kind of tap into that joy year round.

Krysta (11:19): Yeah, absolutely. And that's literally the goal is just to keep people smiling all year long. I think after 2020, we've all could all use some more joy during that crazy year. And, with the niching down, I took your advice on that too, because I originally, I got hooked all of a sudden all wanting to do like this beautiful decor box and I was just going to do decor in general. And then I didn't think it was specific enough. And I found a lot of other boxes out there that were already doing like home essentials and things. So that was what, you know, niche down to the Christmas box because I'm also obsessed with the holiday, my poor husband, but...

Julie (11:55): Nice. So tell us a little bit about your launch. So when did you launch and, what were, you know, tell us a little bit about what you experienced during that launch kind of season.

Krysta (12:07): Definitely. Definitely. Yeah. So along with like the networking background, I've kind of had with the digital space and marketing and things like that. Social media and Facebook groups in general, definitely open a whole world of connections and things like that. And that's kind of what led me to find you, a connection I had made through a networking group. A friend of mine that I had not spoken to in years, was posting about. She wanted to start a subscription box and I had been searching, like I said, a different box idea. I had, I'd been searching here and there and because Facebook knows what you're doing. It pushed you this post and someone had commented and said, check out Julie Ball, that's all it's said. And I was like, "Well, I'm going to check out Julie Ball." So I went and I found your profile, found your website, saw you had a podcast. Literally. It was like creeping you hardcore. I'm like, "What does she know about boxes?"

So I, you know, found the podcast and then, yeah, and then like anyone listening, if this is the episode you're starting with and you're brand new, you're beginning episodes for someone who hasn't launched yet is literally gold. Like not to sound cliche, but that is the truth. They are gold because I went through all those steps. You had probably three times because my husband knows the intro to your podcast because I play them on our Bluetooth speaker and he's like, "grab a cup of coffee and let's have some fun." And I'm like, yup.

Julie (13:35): Oh my gosh! He knows he needs to make like a video of him, like lip sinking it.

Krysta (13:41): Oh, it's too funny. But I went through them and, it led me to change my whole box idea. That was what made me want to do the Christmas. And I just want to kept coming back to, so that's where the idea stemmed from is just sitting down and doing the market research, doing the competitor research. Like you have people go through and just, all those steps are so important. And I just can't recommend the info you gave enough. So launch strategy though, into launching the box that was in September timeframe, I found your podcast and, we launched in November and, to ship our first box in December.

Julie (14:17): Perfect timing.

Krysta (14:19): That was fast.

Julie (14:20): That is fast, but still you wanted to get in before the holidays, like we're in full swing.

Krysta (14:25): Yep. You nailed it. That's exactly what it was, is I didn't want to have to launch a Christmas box in January, but you know. So, well, we hustled and got it out there by, in November and I followed your pre-launch strategy to a T like did every step exactly. As you said, focused on our social media and growing that I did two King Sumo giveaways where I gave away subscriptions to the box. And, from there, you know, we had a great audience to launch to off the bat. And I really think that's what made it such a, a great launch is, is doing those giveaways. And cause we started with nothing. This wasn't a realm I was in at all. So that was huge. That was huge.

Julie (15:08): That's awesome. Are there Facebook groups like for Christmas enthusiasts? Yeah, I bet.

Krysta (15:14): Absolutely. There are decorating accounts. There are, just enthusiastic accounts. There's baking ones and it's all centered on holidays. So yeah, a whole new realm that I was not.

Julie (15:26): That is so fun. Okay. So you niche down, you did the pre-launch strategy now you're finally launched what were some of those big challenges? And how did you overcome them?

Krysta (15:38): Oh, so the biggest challenge that we had and probably still is, is our website. So with my experience and knowing a little bit about, you know, marketing and good stuff like that, I stuck with the website platform I knew which was Squarespace and that's what our current website was on. I knew that I had to be fast. I knew I could get the website up quickly. I knew how to use it. I like the layouts. I was like, I know they have a subscription option. I'll just turn that on and be good to go. I thought wrong and learn from my mistakes, everyone.

Julie (16:09): Tell us. Give us all the details.

Krysta (16:09): Use a platform that's good for subscription boxes. Listen to Julie. Use a platform that's good for sub boxes. Their subscription option, it does bill monthly, but that's pretty much all it does.

It doesn't show you your total subscriber count when someone cancels you can't see it. You have to go in one by one and see their current status of if they're active or not, or wait for the orders to renew. So when you're forecasting inventory out a month or two, that's a lot of manual clicks and a lot of Excel sheets. And, it's, it's not been fun in that regard. I could not imagine doing that if we were, if we had more subscribers right now, so definitely was glad that I realized it quickly. And so now we're in the process of just trying to find what platform is best and, you know, the subscription box Facebook groups have been super helpful in kind of narrowing down. I didn't realize there were so many options, but, I would, I love Squarespace, but I would not recommend it for subscription. That was a definite challenge.

Julie (17:15): That's so good to know. I did see that they had a subscription option, but usually when an existing platform adds a subscription option, they add it one little feature at a time. And so, you know, for us, you know, that we use Crate joy and that's a great one to use and we use it on the backend and we use WordPress, with Devi as our template, as our theme on the front end. A lot of our bootcampers will use Subly or, there's, you know, some of them use WooCommerce, hear some horror stories about that one. You have to make sure that you use the right, I don't know, I think it's a plugin. I need to look further into that one, but, most of our bootcampers are on either Cratejoy Shopify or Subly.

Krysta (18:04): Yup. And that's what I'm learning are the big three that's yeah. That's what I'm learning. I learned very quickly. And boy, I wish I'd have known that going in that it was that, and you don't know what you don't know, you know? I didn't know what views I needed to see when I was launching it, but I would say that subscription option in Squarespace, if you are thinking about it, I would warn you to not do it. And unless it's more of just like a membership that's virtual, that would be the only way I could see that platform working. But yeah, definitely good to know. And I need to keep looking into the big three for sure.

Julie (18:38): Yeah. Maybe I should do an episode on that.

She's like, "Yeah, go ahead. Can you do it yesterday, please?"

Krysta (18:46): Yeah.

Julie (18:46): Okay. Thank you. That was a really good story and really good advice. Actionable stuff that people will hear that and, you know, maybe not make that same mistake. So thank you for sharing that. What is, and you guys all know that I think the subscription box world is like the best industry in the world. So what's one of your favorite things about working in this industry.

Krysta (19:06): I would totally agree with you that I think it's amazing. So being in the, I don't know what you want to call it, regular entrepreneur networking world, you probably know there's thousands of Facebook groups. There's so many events and networking and everyone's great. Right. But it wasn't until I got in and I didn't even do this until later, just recently actually I found some Facebook groups, but, the subscription box Facebook groups I'm in are just so forthcoming. And I don't know if it's because like the subscription box world is like such a hustle, you know, especially when you're starting out and, but everyone literally just gives advice away and they, and like you included in that, like, it's just so refreshing to even people that are direct competitors, you'll see just giving away what they do and how it works. And the abundance mindset, there's more than enough to go around, like let's help each other. And, that has been my favorite part is just the people and what would have taken me weeks in a regular group to get feedback on, I can get in, you know, 15 minutes in one of these groups. Cause people are just so generous.

Julie (20:14): I love that. I just, I got chills when you were talking about that, because I feel the same way. I feel that all the time I've worked in corporate America. So I did 10 years in corporate America. I call it, I said like I did 10 years, like it was jail time or something. So I did 10 years in corporate America. And then now I'm 10 years into my entrepreneurial life and never have I experienced so many good people that want to help. And like you said, have that abundance mindset. I just was on a call yesterday with another subscription coach, which we could see each other as direct competition. But instead we got on a call and we're like, "Hey, how can we work together? Like how can we make something better than anything anyone has seen?" You know? And of course there's going to be outliers.

There's always going to be someone who's like lurking around the corner with bad intentions. And so you have to be aware of that in any of those groups, but I feel most safe in the subscription box groups and in our little world here than I have in corporate America than I have in, you know, some of the other entrepreneurial spaces that I've existed in and participated in. And I love it.

Krysta (21:30): I'm so with you.

Julie (21:30): That abundance mindset is just, it's really, it's important to have, and it can be hard at first when you're first launching, especially as you're carving out your concept. And a lot of people are like, "Oh, but someone already has done that. Or it's already over-saturated." Well, there is so much to go around in this industry, as long as you niche down and you make your product unique and you bring your unique take on it. Like no one else is going to be, you know, the Krysta of Christmas, there's other Christmas boxes, but you're going to have your own unique take on it. And I just love that.

Krysta (22:12): Yes, absolutely. I am so with you.

Julie (22:15): Awesome! So we, you did already give us some really good advice, but I do want to ask you, you know, everyone listening is either new in the business or they're aspiring to start their box one. What is one piece of advice that you can share with them that, maybe you learned the hard way, or it's just been really impactful in your business?

Krysta (22:34): Yeah. And it kind of goes back to the website, but just in general, like get the systems right upfront if you can. I know that sometimes that's an investment upfront, but it pays off in the end. Like we use Flowdesk for our emails worth the money. It's not that expensive right now. Anyway, it's a beta, email marketing system.

Julie (22:55): We love it.

We actually, yeah, we use it. We used to use MailChimp. And when we got to a point where our lists were getting so large and we had multiple lists, but you pay for every seat on every list and it was just getting really expensive. I think we were paying like 200 something dollars for MailChimp, and then we switched to Flodesk, and we can manage it and segment so much better and Flowdesk, I think, $19 a month. Yeah. And we have a special link too that gets you a discount. We can put that in the show notes. And it's beautiful.

Krysta (23:33): Oh, it is. It's so user-friendly, it's like plug and play email templates. So that's just one advice is the system. So if the website platform, right, that was something that if I could go back, I would redo 10 times over is, just your, all your tech that you're going to use. I'm using so many Excel sheets right now, and it's just not, it's not going to be scalable. We have to get more, more systems and made the best decision to, use QuickBooks, which I have never used before. Also not super overwhelming, just, the systems like make all the difference. I feel like, cause there's so many moving pieces in subscription world. Like I had never dealt with products at all before. So it was a rude awakening to be, buying, you know, six to eight at a time and managing all the moving pieces as you and everyone on this probably knows. But, the tech to support that I feel like is so important. So that would be my biggest piece of advice.

Julie (24:30): That's good advice. Well, I am so super proud of you. And I know after listening to this, there's going to be some people who want to, low key stalk you or just follow you to see what you're, what you're doing. So where can people follow you online, your social media, your website, all that good stuff.

Krysta (24:51): Yeah, absolutely. Well, I do want to leave people with a code too if they want to try it. If they're a Christmas lover, I'm going to get 50% off your first box if you'd like, so just use code FIRSTTIME50. And then you can find us all the usual places. So our website is and we are on Facebook and Instagram @mychristmassnowflake as well.

Julie (25:12): Awesome. Love it. And you can have the joy of Christmas all year round. I will be following along. I can't wait to see what you do in those off season months, and that should be really interesting. And maybe, you know, six months from now, we do another podcast and you share some of that advice of, you know, what you've learned along the way and how you've brought a seasonal, like joy to the non-seasonal time. If that makes sense. I'd love to hear how you build that story and create that.

Krysta (25:46): Yep. And we have lots of plans for that. We're super excited now that we are out of the holiday season that we get to do some fun stuff. So It'll be fun.

Julie (25:53): Well, cool. All right, guys, I hope you enjoyed this episode. Make sure you head on over to the website and give it a shot with that coupon code. What was that code again?

Krysta (26:02): FIRSTTIME50.

Julie (26:04): Awesome. Thank you so much, Krysta. I appreciate you. I appreciate you sending that box and telling your story and making me cry. Happy tears. It's all good. We just love stories like that. So if you're listening and you have a similar story, make sure you DM us on Instagram. We are Subscription Box Bootcamp. Thanks as always for listening today. And we'll see you in the next episode.