Subscription Box Basics with Julie Ball

Behind the Scenes with Duffy of The Ballroom Box - BBP

July 26, 2021 Julie Ball Episode 84
Subscription Box Basics with Julie Ball
Behind the Scenes with Duffy of The Ballroom Box - BBP
Chapters
Subscription Box Basics with Julie Ball
Behind the Scenes with Duffy of The Ballroom Box - BBP
Jul 26, 2021 Episode 84
Julie Ball

#084 - In this episode of Subscription Box Basics, Julie is joined by one of her students from Subscription Box Bootcamp Duffy Betterton of the Ballroom Box.

Duffy together with her mom Debi co-founded the Ballroom Box, a subscription box designed to inspire and equip dancers. 

Tune in as Duffy shares her story of launching the Ballroom Box in the middle of the pandemic. 

Summary:

  • Introduction of Duffy Betterton and the Ballroom Box (00:02:29)
  • Launch Story (00:07:00)
  • Biggest challenge in starting the Ballroom Box (00:10:46)
  • Hosting an online community and Facebook group (00:17:54)
  • Favorite thing about being in the subscription industry (00:20:49)
  • Advice to new and aspiring subscription box owners (00:23:44)

Links:

Show Notes Transcript

#084 - In this episode of Subscription Box Basics, Julie is joined by one of her students from Subscription Box Bootcamp Duffy Betterton of the Ballroom Box.

Duffy together with her mom Debi co-founded the Ballroom Box, a subscription box designed to inspire and equip dancers. 

Tune in as Duffy shares her story of launching the Ballroom Box in the middle of the pandemic. 

Summary:

  • Introduction of Duffy Betterton and the Ballroom Box (00:02:29)
  • Launch Story (00:07:00)
  • Biggest challenge in starting the Ballroom Box (00:10:46)
  • Hosting an online community and Facebook group (00:17:54)
  • Favorite thing about being in the subscription industry (00:20:49)
  • Advice to new and aspiring subscription box owners (00:23:44)

Links:

Speaker 1:

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 before I get started in today's episode, I just wanted to give a quick nod to last week's episode. It was called create your subscription box business plan. If you hadn't heard we're hosting this really unique, amazing five day live event, where we're going to create your business plan in a way that's fun and supportive. You can get more [email protected] forward slash waitlist , and you will be among the first to know when enrollment opens. Hey everybody. And welcome back to subscription box basics. I'm your host Julie Ball. I am really excited today because I am interviewing one of our subscription box bootcampers. And when I talk about niching down, niching down and niching down again and having a very specific audience, man, this box is it's like it niches down and I love that about the ballroom box. So I would like to introduce you to Duffy Betterton from the ballroom box. Hi

Speaker 2:

Julie, thank you so much for having me on today. I have loved being a part of this subscription by bootcamp , family, and group, and have been so inspired by so many other women and people in this group that it's an honor to be able to share a little bit of our story too. Oh,

Speaker 1:

I'm so glad that makes my heart so happy. I feel like in subscription box boot camp, we have this like tight knit little family too, and it's so supportive and safe in that group. And I am so grateful for people like you in the group that are involved and generous with your time in, you know, not only today on the podcast, but in helping your colleagues. I see you posting in there from time to time with commenting when people have questions or need support. So thank you for that.

Speaker 2:

Yes . Well, I've been fed into from it, so I appreciate

Speaker 1:

It. Nice, nice. So let's just dive in. So you have a box for competitive ballroom dancers, right? So tell everyone a little bit about yourself and your background, and then we'll talk a little bit about the box and how you launched and all that good stuff.

Speaker 2:

Okay, great. So , um, my background, obviously I am a competitive ballroom dancer. I , um, social dance with my husband for several years and we had a great time , um, social dancing , taking ballroom lessons. It was always like our date night thing to do a lesson, eat dinner, and then go back for a dance party. And then after a few years I convinced him to do a showcase with me. And so we did this awesome routine to like a Zana do song forever ago, gene Kelly and Olivia Newton, John, and it was so much fun. And at the end of the showcase, we actually did a competition and I discovered that I loved the competition world and he discovered that he hated it. Um, yeah, that was a little bit sad, but he's so supportive and he completely supported me continuing to compete. And so my mom and I began competing in ballroom and within a year or so, she's a ballroom dancer as well. And so it's a great weekend, a way for us to compete and have fun together. We decided that we wanted to wear these amazing, beautiful dresses. So like , um, designers, they're very expensive. Dresses are made specifically for ballroom dancers so that they move well on the floor. They're very sparkly with , um, expensive fabrics and stones. And so we actually launched a business called dance dress couture to sell the ballroom dresses on consignment , um, from dancers and then also offer new dresses. And so we expanded, it offered men's wear and jewelry. And in the midst of that, we began traveling beyond our own competitions to other competitions. And so we got to know a lot of people in the ballroom world from different genres of ballroom dancing and also kind of built this huge list of items and things that ballroom dancers need from jewelry to eyelashes, to , um, energy things. I'll just different kinds of things. And so that's kind of our background.

Speaker 1:

Okay. So that sounds super fun. I want to wear all the sparkly dresses and do all the dancing. Um, that just, it, it seems like a very, very, like I said, niche audience, like, you know exactly who you serve and they have a very unique set of pain points and needs. And so I love that about not just your original business, where you were doing the consignment and all that good stuff, but also how you turn that into a subscription box. So let's segue into that. How did you turn that into a subscription box or did you , was it an additional stream of revenue? Um , and then tell us specifically like what to expect with the box.

Speaker 2:

Okay, great. So , um, when you traveled for about four years with our business , um , selling dresses and accessories for ballroom dancers, and during that time, we kind of built a list, like I said, of things that we made as dancers for the event, but we also built a list of things that would be great gifts for people. And so in the fall of 2019, we had this idea of developing a little dancers backs of gifts for teachers and fellow dancers. And so we kind of piloted it a little bit and actually that's when I was like, I started getting subscription boxes and loved them so much. And one day I got a cause box or fact that fun . And I was like, wait a minute. What if I could a box that was specific for me that I had things that I need for ballroom dancing. And so we kind of took that list and we were like, okay, let's try it. So we did a little sample and then we were also opening a shop. So we opened a shop in the Nashville area, the spring of 2020, well , actually February of 2020, my gosh. And then obviously time everything shut down , right? Like not only like our industry, which obviously ballroom dancing was completely shut down for almost all of 2020. And so our only way to market at that time was really going to events. And so when that shut down, I had already purchased subscription bags , bootcamp, but I hadn't like dug into it because we were busy traveling. And so I couldn't travel anymore. So I was like, okay, here we go. So I dove in hardcore that spring , um, to the boot camp . And I just like ran through all your steps and all the things that need to get done. And we launched summer of 2020, and our first box was themed dance at home. And everything in the bikes were things that would encourage people and inspire them to be dancing at home. So it had like a stretch band in it. It had , um , dance socks. So if you can't wear your heels in your home, because you don't want to mess up your floor, then you, you know, like different things like that. And everything was themed around ways to keep people dancing when they couldn't be in their studio and at competitions and stuff like that. And so , um, here we are a year later, this is our fourth box, we're seasonal. So we come out four times a year , um, with each season. And , um, it's been great. Our holiday box was a huge hit. We actually did a female and a mailbox and all of our mailboxes sold out really quickly because people were buying them for their teachers. Um, and so we included things. Our target market is women because there are so many more women who do ballroom dancing, but we have a lot of guys who were like, wait a minute, where's the box for me? So we do try to think of things that can be for both, but , uh , yeah , our target market is women and other things that we include in our bags are specific for women who are dancing. So our spring bikes had a tanning mousse , five Kita Murgatroyd who is from dancing with the stars, which was such a super fun thing because I've been watching and waiting for her new moves to come out. And I saw that it was coming and it was going to come out exactly the right time for me to launch it in my spring box. So I just contacted her company and said, Hey, I want to put this in the box. And we did. And it has gone so well, our people love it. It's perfect for the dancer. Um , and the other thing is, is that because we won our amateur competitors ourselves, we know what amateur competitors need, but also have a lot of our teachers who were like, oh my gosh, these items are also great. We also want to get these things. So we put a t-shirt and our spring backs that said, never underestimate a woman who dances. She always starts out. Right. And if you're a dancer, you can't get that because as you're learning to dance, the woman always starts with her right foot. So, yeah. So our dancers, we always try to think of things that are specific for them, so that when they open the box, they're like, yes, I need this. I'm going to put this in my dance bag, or this is going to equip me and help me in my journey to be more confident and beautiful on the floor.

Speaker 1:

I love all of that story. And let me just say that, number one, your dance at home pivot, like with that theme was absolutely brilliant because you're nurturing this audience and they can't do what they love to do, you know, on the, you know , traveling anymore or at events, but you don't want them to feel like they can't pursue their hobby or pursue their passion anymore or pursue what might be a career. And so I love that you really embraced the challenge that the pandemic really put in front of a lot of business owners and you turned it into a really positive thing. So kudos on that dance at home box. And then the second thing is you were telling your story that I really, really love is the tanning mousse that you talked about. Um, while I don't particularly know that person who puts it out, I'm sure it's very popular with your subscribers , um, and partnering with big names like that can align your brand with them, not only providing high quality things, but like it elevates your brand to be a part of, you know, almost like a ripple effect to be a part of dancing with the stars and with that particular brand. So , um , I love both of those things about your story. So tell us a little bit more about your launch story. So you said to come up with the idea , um, you stopped traveling because of the pandemic. You got a couple of boxes, whether that was maybe fab fit fun or cause box. And it kind of sparked this idea, right. To maybe build something like that for your audience. And then you were in the idea stage when you started bootcamp, what were some of the challenges that you faced other than the pandemic , but what are some of the, what were some of the challenges you faced in your launch?

Speaker 2:

I think the biggest thing is getting the word out to all the people. I mean, obviously for us, it was a little more complicated because our main way to get to market was through events. And so trying to get to our ideal client in a different way. And so learning how to use social media better, we were already posting and , um , had used Facebook ads a little bit, but really diving in to media and email marketing and then building our list, I think have been, and honestly kind of continue to be some of our biggest challenges is building our email list, being consistent and posting and showing up, and then ads , it's hard to figure out. And then as soon as we thought we had figured out Facebook ads and like a good direction, then this spring hit. And I feel like that was kind of, yeah, I'm still trying to figure out what, how to fix that or come back from that or near to advertise now. Yeah.

Speaker 1:

It is definitely a challenge that we're all facing in the summertime. A lot of subscription box businesses experience that summer slump to begin with. And then Facebook goes and changes the algorithm like the iOS switches . Yeah. It is such a challenge. Trust me, we're all going through that. Um , I've got to get Becky, our Facebook ads girl on the podcast again, soon to tie to like walk us through all that stuff. Um, but yeah. So as a result, have you tested any new places like Pinterest for example, or doing giveaways or anything like that? We

Speaker 2:

Haven't done any giveaways this summer. We are kind of building up our Pinterest. And then the other thing that I've really started diving more into is providing more content. I never really saw myself as a content writer and I'm still like not super confident in being like the content writer, but I'm understanding more and more that my box is more about community and equipping my dancers than it is supplying them with a box of fun goodies. And so while I want to treat my dancers with those things, I also want to educate them. And so I, I really want to focus on building more content , um, on our website, on our blog with information on how to use the Tanner, how to apply fake lashes, you know , uh , how does stretch, sore muscles , um, things that are very specific for them and giving them more because, and honestly, I see this, Julie, you are such a great example of this, both in subscription box bootcamp and sparkle hustle grow in providing more of that content and keeping us engaged and keeping us involved. It really keeps me subscribing, right? Like it keeps me coming back because I'm like, wait a minute. I don't want to miss the tools that I'm going to get from the online community. Uh , and so I think that's kind of that my next push is really educating people more than just trying to sell a box of goods. Absolutely.

Speaker 1:

It makes such a huge difference in our churn, like our retention, how long we keep people, because we want to keep them coming back for more. And it is a challenge though, to figure out like, what do you want to, what content do you want to provide just for your paid subscribers versus what you want to put on your blog to attract new subscribers. And so there's, there's a lot of moving parts there, but any business is going to have that challenge. You know , that's not unique to the subscription box industry, but it is definitely as a business owner, something that it's difficult to keep up with. And I like to use the batch technique. So if I'm going to do videos or if I'm going to do Instagram reels or something like that, I'll batch three or four videos legit, like in my office, switched shirts, same day, switched shirts, new content. And that's the only way that I can really manage that. And , um , I know in sparkle hustle grow, we're studying live video this month and that's always been a challenge for me, you know, just pressing go live. I start to sweat and get nervous even though like I've been doing this for years. So don't feel bad about that stuff. Like that's a constant struggle. I think for a lot of business owners, I will tell you if you struggle with video , um, a lot of my video, I prerecord instead of going live and I use this really great app. I don't know if you've heard of it, but, and I've talked about it before. It's called big view. It's B I G V U. And it's a teleprompter app where you can type up your script, put it right in your phone. And when you hit record and you can record on desktop or on your phone, when you hit record, the teleprompter gives you your script and it scrolls. So you're reading it. And if it puts it right at the top where your camera is, so it looks like you're looking into the camera, even though you're reading it. And that's my little secret sauce when it comes to , um, video is a lot of times I have to plan out that stuff in advance. So I'll just write a script and use my teleprompter. So , um, yeah, I'd love to see a lot of our, our , um, bootcampers get on more video because Facebook and Instagram reward you for video. Like that's what their algorithm wants at least right now. Right. Who knows in six months,

Speaker 2:

Right? Yeah, that's really good. I , um, I definitely will put that into practice for our next unboxing. We have seen video , um , with the addresses . We started doing live unboxings this spring because we were, you know, still waiting for competitions to come back on and people love it. Like when we get new dresses, we'll open up and be like, look at our new dresses and they help us name them. And so people are really enjoying that. So I've been trying to figure out how to do more of that with the ballroom box . And I love reels. It's actually, I mean, it's really hard and it's a huge challenge, but I'm having fun kind of dealing , um , diving in to do reels. But my target market is really more on Facebook than on Instagram. And so, yeah , I'm like, I want to do reels. I want to build my audience on Instagram because it will be there in a couple of years. But right now my target market is really still the woman who's on Facebook. Um, she might be on Instagram, but not much. Yeah.

Speaker 1:

So do you host an online community and a Facebook group?

Speaker 2:

We have , um , yes, we have a dance dress connection group, but it hasn't really been ballroom bike specific. So I've been thinking, do I need to create another one, but then it's kind of that overwhelmed again of do I start a whole nother group. Um, and then here's the other question that I would have is I still have a really small number of subscribers. And so does it feel chintzy to create a ballroom box Facebook group that only has , that has less than 50 subscribers or people ?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, that's a fair question. But what you can do is you can add other people into that group. They don't have to be subscribers. So add maybe some of your colleagues in the industry, maybe they'll participate in there , if anything, it's increasing the head count of the group. Um, and in , I know that might be a vanity number, but at the same time, when someone joins, they, they might look at that number and say, okay, well, how many people are in here? So I would encourage you not to spread yourself too thin though. So if you've already got a Facebook group, that's not necessarily the box specifically for the box,

Speaker 2:

Right ? Yeah.

Speaker 1:

There's still ways to incorporate that in there because if they're dancers, they're probably your target audience, right. If they're right. So I think there's ways for you to easily and not salesy, like incorporate things from the ballroom box. So if you go , for example, if you go live and you have on that, t-shirt, that was in the last box, you sure as heck can say, Hey guys, coming at you live. I'm so excited. I got on my new shirt, it's in this past , um, the past box and that type of thing, you know, like you can kind of naturally create some FOMO and tell them what to do. Then say, if this, if you like the shirt, we still have some left in the shop. If not, you need to reserve your box for next month. Okay. Now, today we're going to cover this. You know what I mean? Like it's okay to pepper in that stuff, into your community because that's your audience, that's your target audience. So I don't think at this point, yeah. I don't think at this point I would necessarily add an online community if you're already like a second one, if you're already feeling spread thin. But if it , if it's a concern that there's not going to be enough. And I say that in quotes, like if you don't feel like there's enough people in a private Facebook group, you can always reach out to vendors, colleagues, other experts, people you've met while traveling and invite them to be a part of it. And even though they might not be getting the box, you could send them something to be a part of it. And then they become like a super fan for you. So there's a lot of different ways that you can kind of handle that. That's

Speaker 2:

A good, good, thank you. That's encouraging. Yeah.

Speaker 1:

So I , it's no secret that. I think the subscription box industry is like the best industry in the world. I have so much fun. I love the people. It is created financial freedom for my family. So what's one of your favorite things about working in the subscription box industry. Okay.

Speaker 2:

This is so hard because honestly there are several things that I really love about this. Um, I think my favorite favorite part of being in the subscription box industry is , um, surprising my subscribers and equipping them with things that they love. So I love shopping for the things and I love putting together all of the items that are going to go in it. Like I just saw a question in the group the other day somebody was saying, okay, I'm shopping on , um , Tendra and fair , where else can I go? And I'm thinking I'm shopping all the time. Everywhere I go, I'm looking and I'm like, wait a minute. That would be great in my box. And if I see it, like one of the things that's going to be in our next bikes is something that you can really, honestly, you can get it anywhere. But I called the manufacturer and said, I want to get this from my bikes . And they totally set up a wholesale account so that I could put it in the box. But it's also something that you forget to pack in your box before you go to a competition. So even though you could buy it at Ulta, you might not have it. Does that make sense? Absolutely. Yes. I love the shopping. I love packing them up, but I think like right now I'm , I'm shipping boxes today and this is the time that I'm like the most getting , because I can't wait for people to get their boxes and like do an unboxing video or send me a message and say they love it. Um, I just, yeah, I w I honestly wish that there was a way to like, put a little camera in the box so that when they open it and they're going through it, like automatically, it would just record and like just download and send it straight to me. Cause I just want to know like, did they love everything in it? And I think that's my favorite part is that I want to surprise and encourage and equip people. And I , yeah, I just am excited to see how much they live , all of the things in it. Does that make sense?

Speaker 1:

It totally does. It's soon as I ship the boxes, I'm legitimately on Instagram searching for our hashtag, like waiting to see the first person who's going to post it. I don't five years in. So it doesn't, it does not lose that kind of that anticipation, even five years in, I'm still looking, it's kind of a mix of nervousness and excitement at the same time. Um, so that surprise and delight is just, it's definitely a part of the subscription box industry that is really, really fun. So I would definitely agree with you on that. Yeah. So you are about a year end , you said, right? Yes. Okay. So what's one piece of advice that you can share with new and aspiring subscription box business owners, the people that are going to be listening to this,

Speaker 2:

I think dive in, go for it. Um, definitely , um , find good training, like subscription box bootcamp. If you're on the fence of trying to decide what to do , um, is worth it because it totally helps you get over the overwhelm of trying to make the decisions. There are so many little pieces to the puzzle as you go. And sometimes you kind of have to learn as you go and figure out, you know, exactly where are you going to get those boxes and the packing tape and you know, all those kinds of things, but , um, dive into know your customer, be your own customer so that you know what to supply your customer with. But I would say, go for it. Like if you don't, I feel like you would regret it. I know, like during the year, last year when we were sitting at home, if I had not gone ahead and just dove in and developed the ballroom backs this year, I'd be going, I did not take the time to do that. Why didn't I, you know, push forward and , and go for it. And then when it gets discouraging, I would say, just keep at it. Like don't give up.

Speaker 1:

Yeah. That's really good advice. The fact is that it's always scary to start a new business. There's always a lot of fear and , um, you know, where you're doubting yourself and when you have that, that positive reinforcement or the motivation or the support that you need, it's so much easier to go ahead. And like you said, go for it because you know, you don't have to do it alone. So I'm really grateful that you're a part of bootcamp. It's been so nice chatting with you today. If people want to learn more about the ballroom box, can you tell us, you know, where they can find you, your website and your social media? Yes.

Speaker 2:

You can find [email protected] . So PowerMax max mate, and you can find this app I'll read on Instagram and Facebook.

Speaker 1:

Awesome. Thank you again. This was so fun. Chatting with you. I'm really proud of you. You launched a new product based business at the beginning of a pandemic, and here you are today, still in business. And , um, I , I love what you're doing, so congratulations.

Speaker 2:

Yay. Thank you. Awesome.

Speaker 1:

All right, well, that's it for us guys. Thank you so much for listening. We're going to be talking to some more bootcampers over the next few weeks. And if this is something that you're interested in doing for yourself, if you want to launch your own subscription box, or even if you're interested in that idea, stage, head on over to Instagram, our , our handle is subscription box bootcamp and send us a message in the DMS. We are always in there answering questions, helping people along their journey and would love to chat with you. So thank you for joining us in today's episode and we'll see you next time. [inaudible] .