Subscription Box Basics with Julie Ball

Behind the Scenes Deana of One Girl Inspired

May 31, 2021 Julie Ball Episode 76
Subscription Box Basics with Julie Ball
Behind the Scenes Deana of One Girl Inspired
Chapters
Subscription Box Basics with Julie Ball
Behind the Scenes Deana of One Girl Inspired
May 31, 2021 Episode 76
Julie Ball

#076 - In this episode, Julie is joined by one of her students from Subscription Box Bootcamp Deana Hicks of One Girl Inspired.

Deana is the Founder and Chief Inspiration Officer for One Girl Inspired, which is a monthly subscription box that aims to inspire, empower and motivate teen and tween girls to believe in themselves, aspire to dream big, and make their own mark on the world.

Summary:

  • One Girl Inspired Launch Story (00:04:16)
  • What's in the box? (00:08:46)
  • Biggest challenge in starting One Girl Inspired (00:10:42)
  • Favorite thing about being in the subscription industry (00:16:51)
  • Advice to new and aspiring subscription box owners (00:19:00)

Links:

Show Notes Transcript

#076 - In this episode, Julie is joined by one of her students from Subscription Box Bootcamp Deana Hicks of One Girl Inspired.

Deana is the Founder and Chief Inspiration Officer for One Girl Inspired, which is a monthly subscription box that aims to inspire, empower and motivate teen and tween girls to believe in themselves, aspire to dream big, and make their own mark on the world.

Summary:

  • One Girl Inspired Launch Story (00:04:16)
  • What's in the box? (00:08:46)
  • Biggest challenge in starting One Girl Inspired (00:10:42)
  • Favorite thing about being in the subscription industry (00:16:51)
  • Advice to new and aspiring subscription box owners (00:19:00)

Links:

Julie:

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! Hi everybody, and welcome back to Subscription Box Basics the podcast I am here today with a guest that I've actually known for quite a while. We work together in the corporate space back in the day, and then our paths crossed again through the subscription box industry. So I'm excited to introduce you to my friend Deana Hicks, who is the Founder and Chief Inspiration Officer at One Girl Inspired. Welcome to you!

Deana:

Thank you so much, Julie. I'm so excited to be here

Julie:

Long time coming. It's so crazy to think about how we worked together back in Charlotte in a company called... Charlotte, North Carolina at a company called Muzak. And as I've mentioned before in past podcasts, I did 10 years in corporate America in different types of roles, mostly in marketing. A lot of it in music marketing. And so Muzak is where we met.

Deana:

Yes , like a lifetime ago.

Julie:

I know, I know. Well, what were you doing at music?

Deana:

I can't remember . So I had so many roles there, but I started in marketing with project management and then ended up managing several departments , business management, running their nonprofit foundation and a whole slew of everything. I did product manager for their scent marketing department. So like, everything.

Julie:

Yeah, all over the place. I remember I was working primarily in acquisition, new customer acquisition and email marketing, that type of thing. So, which that really helps me with my own business now, but so there's going to be a lot of people that are going to be meeting you for the first time. So why don't you tell them a little bit more about your background outside of when we work together.

Deana:

Okay. So like you said, my name is Dina Hicks. I am the Founder and Chief Inspiration Officer for One Girl Inspired, which is a monthly subscription box for teen and tween girls. Prior to that, I spent 20 plus years in the marketing world with helping build and launch multiple brands and startups. Everything from, you know, our music background to beauty, to security, to kind of run the gamut. I also ran a nonprofit corporate nonprofit for Muzak and then also created and directed multiple music business camps for students...

Julie:

Oh, that's so cool.

Deana:

around the country. So , I have quite a diverse background in that, but I spent most of my time in management roles in corporate America and kind of like you and in male-dominated industries. And so decided to kind of refocus my efforts on growing the competence of teen girls so that they could be and feel successful in all areas of their life. Because I currently live in Waxhaw North Carolina now which is right outside of Charlotte with my husband and my own teenage daughter, who is the true inspiration behind One Girl Inspired.

Julie:

That's awesome! And so I have a daughter that's nine and a half, she's going on 10 at the time of this recording. So I'm hoping to learn a lot through you as you were kind of carving that path out with your teenage daughter. I hope to learn a lot from you. And when it comes to One Girl Inspired and the box, I imagine that that'll be something that'll be really good for my daughter in the next couple of years. Why don't you tell everyone a little bit about your subscription box, the problem that you solve with it, and just a little bit about , you know, how, how it even started?

Deana:

Sure. So , One Girl Inspired , like I said, a monthly subscription box for teen and tween girls, particularly the ages of 12 to 16. And our goal is really to provide positive messaging and tools to inspire, empower, and motivate them to believe in themselves, to aspire, to dream big , to be the best version of themselves and to make their own mark on the world, whatever they decide that is. And ultimately to help grow their confidence. And self-worth because there's so much negativity that they top of just the difficult teen years that are already, you know , hard to navigate and harder for them today than even when I was a teen, which doesn't feel like that long time ago . But there's just so much negativity with social media , much of social media anyway, and then also just inaccurate portrayals that are out there on Instagram and the perfect, you know, lives everybody's posting on social of how they should act, be , look, feel. And so a girl's confidence automatically drops in their teen and tween years, 30%, 30 plus percent actually. And that's kind of a staggering number when you think about it. And then they're having to play catch up to build that confidence back up so they can start at a normal level into adulthood. And so it really spoke to me as a mom of a teenage daughter. And I was actually at the idea started after I was at coffee with the mom , pre-service coffee in a coffee shop. And we were sitting around talking about the conversations and messages that we need to have with our daughters and that we needed to instill in them. And it can be complicated as you probably know, and sometimes difficult to have those conversations because they don't necessarily see us as subject matter experts that have had our teen years of our own. And it comes across as nagging. And, you know, in some ways it's when they're rolling their eyes and they're throwing up their hands and whatever, "I already know, mom". And so, you know, those are some of the obstacles we have to combat as parents to get that messaging to them. And so I happened to be thinking a lot about that. And then I also have been following you on social media since, you know, our days of working together and seeing the success of Sparkle Hustle Grow and saw the success that you were having with female entrepreneurs and thought, gosh, you know, that's probably the way into reaching these young girls because what girl doesn't like to get mail , especially, you know, happy mail , which we call when we're on fire and box. But with the messaging that we're providing in the box and the monthly themes, it felt like a less preachy way that is surprising and delighting, you know, then , but also speaking to them and the way that we want them to speak to themselves later on , because that's important how they speak to themselves. And if they're speaking to themselves the way they may be talked to on social media, it's, you know, I just, don't trying to combat that and , you know, in every way possible. And so as a t een, I like getting all the quote books a nd I was one of those teens that read, you know, The Road Less Traveled and Habits of Highly Effective People. And I know that's not for every t een, but if I can scale that t o a way that, you know, r each a s teens today, that's what we're looking to do.

Julie:

I love that I have so many thoughts because you're so right about, and I can relate to so many points like Instagram is where I spend a lot of my time and it feels like the highlight reel half the time. And so I imagine that teens and preteens, wherever they're spending their time, if it's on Tik ToK or Instagram or wherever, they're getting fed these false narratives about what, like you said, what they should be or what, how they should act. And they might not have the capacity to silo out the truth from, you know, what's not really true. And so I think that's really important. And the other thing that you said about meeting, meeting them where they are and giving them that positive message. I had done an interview with Lo from Passion and Growth. She's a fellow bootcampers Subscription Box Bootcamper. And she says that affirmations were so important in her own journey of self-love. And she made this really good point and says, what if, when someone receives my box in the month, that might, what if that's the only time they heard that positive affirmation or that positive message that one moment in the month, and it was because of what you've sent them. And I just get chills thinking about that. And then you're able to do that for these girls that have these young impressionable minds that might not be feeling confident about themselves, but then they get their happy mail from you, One Girl Inspired and they see all of that positive messaging. So tell us a little bit about what you actually put in the box too , to support with that positive messaging.

Deana:

Sure. So it's...we include about four to six items a month that may include a personal development type book such as we just had Habits For Self-Esteem. And this past month box , it might include jewelry items with mantras that they can wear that reminds them, you know, daily.

Julie:

Love it.

Deana:

Fun, fun school supplies that keep them motivated and organized , and allow them to be their best tech gadgets, because, you know, they're all about the texts these days. And then we always try to put some self-care items in as well, because I think that's an important practice to start now , and teaching them what that means exactly. And then how to incorporate it daily into their lives. Because as a mom, I know that sometimes, you know, everybody else comes first , and we take that off of ourselves, but I want to teach them that that's part of it now , so that they continue to practice that into adulthood.

Julie:

It's so smart. I love it. Can you tell us, so you launched in May, 2019, right?

Deana:

Correct. Yes.

Julie:

So the summer of 2019, when things were still a bit normal, can you tell us, can you tell us a little bit about your launch story? Maybe what were some of your biggest challenges and how long it took for you to when you came up with your idea to like actually take action and get movement?

Deana:

So it was around November when I had that coffee talk with some of my friends and by January I had my logo and brand and marketing plan , kind of written out and planned out. And then , May was my first box launch. But what I did was I went through , Subscription Box Bootcamp, which was my, you know , fast track to learning all things I needed to know. So yeah , thank you for that. And that was, that was really helpful in getting me up to speed factor . And I think the biggest challenges that I had starting out though, were inventory and understanding where to get inventory, you know , where to find the products , but also how to scale an order like quantities and figuring that out each month, when I wasn't sure how fast or slow it was going to grow. And so a couple of things that helped me through that was going to America's Mart in Atlanta, where I got to meet so many vendors, create relationships with those vendors. And you know, they're now aware of my box so they can send me ideas. So that was huge. And then I was able to meet enough vendors and find enough products and samples. And I was able to build out a plan for the year, really for what I wanted , put in the boxes and then COVID hit . And that was , that was a bit difficult time because , and that was right at our year anniversary when we were trying to, you know, provide product in boxes and a lot of warehouses shut down and people weren't in the offices or are shipping. And so it became a lot harder to try to find products. And so my, my year plan shifted quite a bit, but what I did for that year anniversary, cause there were several products I wasn't able to get. My husband and I sat down and actually it was just brainstorming. Like what can we do well in that inventory early on, I had accumulated a lot of extra inventory because of not knowing numbers to order having to meet minimums early on and you have to order more than you really need. And I had a lot of excess products and so I decided to do a best of anniversary box , what that entailed was going through every single subscriber and personalizing a box for them based on items they had not received before. I didn't want to give them products that they had received before. So trying to like figure out what all they had received, what they could still, you know, it just, it was a massive spreadsheet project, but it really works , to one, you know, still provide for the, the end customer and the girls and surprise and delight. And it met kind of the best of anniversary. It kind of worked for that timing. And then it also moved a lot of excess inventory that allowed me to, you know, prepare for and move in new inventory.

Julie:

That is just brilliant. What a great idea. And I'm sure a lot of the people listening can really relate to , like when COVID hit, we had a scramble, a lot of people had to do a lot of scrambling to make it work, to figure it out. A lot of communication with customers saying, you know, shipments might be late. And so I love the way you handled that with such grace. And it sounds like it might've quite a project in the backend , but I mean there's seasons of hustle and there's seasons of rest. And this seems like that was a season of hustle for you. But it just moved all that excess inventory, which is just, you know , clogging up your cashflow anyhow.

Deana:

Right. It was definitely worth the work. And you know, it, it just, it made it so much, much more worth while, cause I felt like I was still providing the experience that I wanted to, you know, for the girls and that I didn't have to let up on that experience in any way because of that. So yeah ,

Julie:

You for sharing that story, I love that. So did you change anything knowing what you know now, like did you change how far out you order things based off of, you know , that experience or how did you shift things?

Deana:

I do I now, well now I know better through crate joy , how to predict what I'm going to have in numbers a little bit. And now I have like, you know , history of orders. So I kind of know historically what I might be getting from an inventory standpoint. So I do try to plan out a couple months in advance. I don't have a lot of space to plan out in my house currently to plan out for a ton of months in advance, but I do try to plan out a couple of months in advance. So if I have to scramble at the last minute, I have time to do so.

Julie:

Yeah, so do you fulfill at home then?

Deana:

I do yeah. With the daughter and husband.

Julie:

Nice. You've got the whole family in on it. Do you perceive yourself ever moving to a fulfillment center?

Deana:

I do. I'm looking at that now. Just plans to grow. I'm not quite there yet where I can't handle it out of here, but want to be prepared for when I do. And you know, this holiday season was huge for growth and so definitely wanting to prepare for that as we get closer to that again.

Julie:

Awesome! Okay. So next question, what's one of your favorite things about working in the subscription box industry?

Deana:

One of my favorite things is just the surprise and delight factor. I know how I feel when I get subscription boxes and I love subscription boxes. So, and I know how girls like mail . So I, you know that and making a difference for them and bringing a smile to their face. That's the ultimate high I think I get from the subscription box industry. But kind of a two parts to that is the supportive community from, you know, yourself and Subscription Box Bootcamp to all the people that I've met through that process and worked with to, you know, co-promote boxes or help with vendors and product ideas. So it's, the community itself has been amazing.

Julie:

That's awesome. You seem like you, you get it really well and you're really enjoying the journey. So I love that. What are , what are some of your favorite subscription boxes to get? Because I love getting subscription boxes to you and I call it all market research, but I truly want to open up a box and remember what it feels like when I'm super excited about something, but also when I'm disappointed in it, because I need to like bottle up those feelings and help, you know, use that to inspire me to create really awesome Sparkle Hustle Grow boxes. So what are your, some of your favorites?

Deana:

So Stitch Fix was my very first subscription subscription box. And I l ove that experience. And Fabfitfun is another one of my favorites. I just l ove the p roducts, variety that they bring and the way that it's presented every month. And, u m, so those and Sparkle Hustle Grow. Obviously I do that one as well, me as a kind of solo entrepreneur here, it k ind o f keeps me motivated and to keep pushing, y ou k now, forward my business. And, t here's a community there as well. So those are my, those are my faves.

Julie:

Awesome. I like all three of those as well. So a lot of the people listening are new and aspiring subscription box business owners. So what's one piece of advice that you would share with them based off of something maybe you've learned the hard way.

Deana:

Let's see. I guess being flexible and kind of being able to go with the flow a little bit, cause it doesn't always happen as you prepare it to . And the transparency that you have with your customers when that some of that happens, I think speaks volumes a lot of times I've had people say, I didn't realize you were so personalized when I reach out to them. And so I think that is one big factor and knowing that it takes, it takes time to, you know, it doesn't happen overnight, but I will tell you that the biggest, I think the biggest thing that led to my initial success was the pre-sale that you talk about in Subscription Box Bootcamp is, you know, that, that month or so before launching is sharing the information , um, of what's coming and trying and generating sales then. Yeah . So that I know ahead of time what my inventory is going to somewhat be. They also the validation of idea. You kind of get a sense of, okay, this is something that people are actually interested in , and really helps to kind of push you forward. So I think the pre-sale , I couldn't say enough about initially instead of just jumping in, you kind of feel like, you know, this idea is going to work.

Julie:

And for those of you who aren't clear on what a presale is, essentially, I like to recommend anywhere from two to 30 days out, you start opening up the card just for your VIP's, like for your followers that have joined your email list. And it's one of those ways that one, like Deana said, you can get validation because you're actually getting some sales, getting some money in the bank too to fund that first month's box. And I just, I like it because it rewards those people that are along the ride with you. They've given you their email address you've shared along the way, you know, maybe you've showed them , different items that you might feature. Maybe you've shown them different versions of your logo and ask them to vote things that have not only grown your audience, but nurtured them to have them ready and prime to buy when you open the cart. If you give them something like early access, which would be a pre-sale that just makes them feel so special and it helps you as the business owner. So I love pre-sales . I'm so glad that yours was successful. We did one for sparkle hustle grow and it really helped fund the first month's boxes. I opened up the cart a little bit early to my VIP list, which we called the insider scoop. And it really made them feel special that they were getting first dibs. And not only that is, we said in that first month, we're capping it at a hundred, 100 founding members. Now, if you've listened to earlier episodes, I only sold 40 some. So I never , I didn't even hit that a hundred Mark, but that scarcity model, I knew I wouldn't have to buy over a hundred items for that first month, but I didn't really know, should I buy 10 or should I buy like a hundred? And having that presale really helped me understand where that was going to be. And then I added on top of that to send some to influencers as well. But yeah. Awesome. I'm glad you had a successful presale and I highly recommend it for all boxes just to open that cart just a little bit early to your followers.

Deana:

Yeah. And we, we actually offered like an extra, you know, goody item in the box for the VIP too , is like an incentive as well. So...

Julie:

I love that idea. It's just like dangling a carrot in front of their face. Like, come on, you know, you want this. So, All right. Where can people follow you and find you online? Like what's your website and where do you hang out?

Deana:

So OneGirlInspired.com is our website. So you can learn more there. And you can follow us on social on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest, and it's @onegirlinspired.

Julie:

Awesome. All right, friends, I hope you enjoyed this interview. Go check out Deana at OneGirlInspired.com. Especially if you have a or tween girl, we really, really need to be feeding them these positive messages and Dean is going to make it easy for you. So thanks again for joining me today and we'll see you all in the next step .

Speaker 3:

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