#113 - In this week's episode of Subscription Box Basics, you will meet Sarah of Work Life Glue. She is a homeschooling mom of 3 little girls (ages 6, 4, and 1) who is incredibly passionate about productivity, time management, making lasting memories with our families, and helping other busy working moms create balance that sticks. She runs an online business, Work Life Glue, and now the Work Life Glue Box, that helps other moms balance work, life, and everything in between. We recorded this podcast on her first ever renewal day! Wait until you hear some of the challenges she pushed through in her first month of business!
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So you wanna 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, grab a coffee, some pen and paper, and let's have some fun. Hey everybody. And welcome back to subscription box basics, the podcast I'm Julie Ball, your host, and your subscription box business coach. Today, I have a friend, a boot camper that is going to talk to us a little bit about her story. And I think you'll find it interesting because it is, there's a lot on her plate. Her name is Sarah. She is the founder of the work life glue box, and it helps other moms balance work life and everything in between. And we know that's a lot and she is actually a homeschooling mom of three little girls ages six, four, and one. So as you can imagine, she can probably tell us a lot about managing our time and the balance, and actually adjusted an interview, um, with Kristen, from bake, eat love box, who was talking about that same thing about work life balance. So I am so excited to welcome Sarah to the podcast.
Thank you for having me. I'm so excited.
A lot of people are gonna be meeting you for the first time. Why don't you tell everyone a little bit about yourself and your background? Yeah,
So I, you know, I have kind of a long story, but basically my whole life, what I've wanted to be is a mom and an entrepreneur. Like I didn't, I wouldn't have named that as my love and dream. I would definitely have named the mom thing from being a little kid did, but I always knew I just had this entrepreneurial drive. And so I, you know, in high school, in middle school, I was like blogging before. That was even a thing. Cause this was way before blogs, like, and I learned HTML and I just was really interested in it. And then of course college comes and you have to like figure out what you actually wanna do with your life. So I love English. So I went for English and to be smart, I became a teacher. Um, but two years into being a middle school, English teacher crying every day, I was like, okay, I don't think this is for me.
I love the kids. It was just a lot. And I knew, I didn't know how I would do that and be a mom and pay me care and all that stuff. And so I started nannying, which then I got pregnant with our first daughter and then I opened up a daycare so I could be home and be with my daughter. And then I started a YouTube channel a few years before I became a mom. So I just started talking about planners, just for fun to connect with people. And that slowly over time talking about my life. And I kind of got more focused about five years ago and work life glue actually became a thing. I had a different name at the time and I, I really honed in on helping moms balance, work life and everything in between and create balance. That's something I've always been super passionate about and I've always wanted to actually create a business around that. So I've tried selling online products, but I'm like, I just really want a store, but I also want to teach and I want a community and I want all the things. And then I don't really know how I stumbled upon subscription boxes and your podcast. I wish I could remember like exactly what happened, but I found your podcast. And then I joined the bootcamp and here I am, I just launched, um, a month ago, just had my first renewal today. Um, and yeah, here I am. It's pretty exciting.
Oh, we have so much to talk about. Okay. So first of all, you are not alone in that you left a teaching career to pursue entrepreneurship. I see it as a massive trend happening. Um, my husband is a former middle school, ELA, English and language arts teacher.
Did you know that? Yeah. I didn't know that.
Yeah. He, uh, has taught everything from fifth through I believe eighth grade. Okay. And, um, it was exhausting and mm-hmm <affirmative> um, luckily he was able to resign from that teaching career and now he is our homeschooling dad. So we have a 10 year old and so he runs our homeschool and he runs the operations for sparkle, hustle growth. You have that in common. We have several subscription box bootcamp students mm-hmm <affirmative> that are, are either teaching and they do their box business as a side hustle, or it was like their exit strategy. So you are in good company. Yes <laugh>. And so that's really, it's super exciting that you took the leap. You did it. So let me ask you a couple questions to unpack this. So you had a business before and an existing audio right before you launched the box. So what did that look like?
So for the most part, I was doing YouTube videos. Then I launched a podcast about a year and a half ago and I was also, so I had like a daycare niche for a while because that's what I was doing. I was pumping out videos about that. And then I actually closed the daycare down. I was pregnant in, you know, 2020 when everything happened. And, um, it was just too much everything on my plate was way too much with being pregnant and the pandemic and families leaving and, you know, income was just so crazy. And so I was like, you know, it's now or never let's figure this out. Um, and I think that's when the whole, you know, that when I started looking into subscription boxes.
Okay, awesome. So tell us then what your box actually like what's in it. Who does it serve? And um, what pain point does it solve? This
Was the hardest part for me was figuring out what will actually be in the boxes. I love, you know, I'm online, I'm on Instagram, I'm on YouTube and people are always asking me, you know, what are you getting your girls for Christmas? And what do you use for this? And so I love sharing things, but I've never wanted that to be like my income, you know, I make a little bit of money off of Amazon affiliates, but I don't like, I don't like the idea of selling things. Yeah. Just to sell them, you know, and just to recommend, and then make money I'd much rather curate something or create something myself and sell it. So coming up with exactly what I wanted in the box was the hardest part. But I think really figuring out who my audience is, what kind of questions people have been asking me.
And it's really, I came up with like the three PS. So I, I have four practical products in every box. So it we're gonna be focusing on a different area of life every month. So for example, this first month was all about time management because every human on earth needs to figure out time management agreed. So I have four practical products to help with that. Then I have one pampering product because what mom doesn't need more pampering in her life. And then one parenting product, which I am big on my channel, cuz I did daycare and I'm a mom to three little kids. I love creating rituals and finding really easy ways to bring people together. And actually your husband and your daughter's box was a big inspiration too. Just kind of seeing how they've put stuff together to bring family together. Kind of inspired that too.
So the parenting product, it's not really parenting, but the P fits because you're, I mean, parenting is a lot about relationships. So I guess it does fit with that. So it's like a game, a puzzle this first one because it's time management. I have a page a day calendar with like fun facts and things that I found. So it's like a daily thing they can do. Um, and then I also include like an inspirational quote to go along like a little printout, um, card to help inspire throughout the month as well. Plus I have a community. So you're also, your sparkle has a grow box, inspired me to kind of do something similar, but for busy moms, especially working moms, which is my audience.
I love that. I bet that community is just super inspiring and helpful. I, I just really think that we're meant to do life together. For sure. Especially as moms, like when you're going through a tough season as a mom, who's the first person that you turn to is another mom. And so I love that, that you do that community. So. All right. So let me ask you this, the audience that you spoke to through like your YouTube channel, for example, was that the same audience that you were building this box for? Yes.
Yes. So I definitely wanted to utilize that. So I wasn't starting from that's B Scratch's.
Yeah, it's brilliant. And a lot of our, um, listeners will be starting from scratch and that's okay. A lot of things in life that we all start from scratch, for sure. Yeah. But you have this benefit of having an existing audience and I love that because there's a lot of business owners out there that might have inventory just sitting on the shelves or having this idea that it's harder to chase that sale one at a time and integrating a box business as another stream of revenue is just such a no brainer in my opinion. And that sounds like that's what you did. Yeah.
Yeah. I totally agree. And I, I love that. There's lots of ways you can take it like the community as well. Cuz I actually just today launched a community only portion. So for people who don't want the box, but just want the community and that's super passive for me cuz it's already there. Um, and I've had so many people want coaching and things like that. So now I'll just direct them to the group love that's a win, win, win
Oh that is such a good idea. Love it. Okay. So let's talk a little bit about your launch story, cuz this is, this has gotta be fresh in your mind cuz you just launched, right? Yep. So, um, you already told us about like how you came up with the idea and that you had an existing audience right. To talk to. So tell us about, um, how you kind of announced this new product that you were providing them and how you got them and along for the journey so that they were like prepared and like excited and ready to subscribe.
Yeah. So I, because I have YouTube, I did a YouTube video. I started talking about on Instagram and then I created finally I've been wanting to do this for years to have a email list. So I got, you know, I funneled people onto my email list and then I was doing, we emails where I was not just talking about the box, but I was trying to give, sneak, peeks and stuff like that. Cause I was keeping it very under wraps cause I wanted my first subscribers to really get the full experience. But I also wanted people to kind of have some sense of what they were buying, cuz it's not like free, you know, it's not like $5. So I wanted them to kind of have a sense of what they were getting themselves into, but then I will try to include just extra content for them for free in the email list.
And then I also just put my videos and podcast episodes on there too. So it was a great way to have everything in one. And so I originally that was the hardest part for me probably was figuring out how, because you lay it out really nicely in the course, but the then still, when it comes time to actually do stuff and especially already having an audience for me, it was a little different because I wanted to make sure I had the money and make sure I had the right group, but then also make sure I had enough time to get all the products. And then I launched right at Christmas. So which that was a whole other change I would've made looking back, but originally I think I announced end of October, beginning of November and then I shut it down early December so that I had all December to not get any more orders and completely get overwhelmed.
And um, and then I actually sent the boxes like two days after Christmas. Okay. So it was quick turnaround. We all had strep throat. Like it was kind of a crazy, we had a power outage a week before for 48 hours here in Minnesota in the winter. So I had all my boxes in my office under all our pipes that have like had issues before. So I like moved them all out, stayed in a hotel like when am I gonna pack these boxes? But it's life, you know, especially if you're working from home, these things happen and you just gotta roll with it. But I, you know, it's a great story and it's a great learning experience moving forward of what to do and what not to do and how to prepare and things like that. That is
A great story. And you got the boxes out, everything's fine. Everything's fine. You know what I mean? Like things happen like that all the time. And I think as a subscription box business owner, because we have that same routine month in and month out, it's inevitable that things are going to happen along the way. So it's always really good to have a plan B and it just a quick example of that is with all the supply chain issues, we are kind of planning ahead by having an extra product in house and yes, you know, that's out of pocket, but it's this insurance, it's almost like this insurance that if something doesn't show up on time, I can use this product instead. And I'll use that at some point along the, along the line, um, whether it's a plan B you know, and we just use that product for, uh, replacement or, you know, we'll work it into the actual plan, but we are just seeing so many supply chain issues that that was one of the things proactively that we decided to do. Okay. So we talked about your actual first month in business, we know you had some challenges, but what about during that pre-launch a lot of our listeners are in that pre-launch stage right now. Talk to us about some of those challenges, how you work through them.
Yeah. So I, I feel like every step of the way was kind of a challenge. A lot of it had to do with just doubt and you know, the bootcamp is amazing cuz it lays it all out for you, but you still have to figure out your right ideas, source the products, do the work because obviously you're gonna be taking this business it's in our hands. You know, I love that. But it also, I think for me, um, figuring out box sizes was really hard for me because I knew a few products that I wanted going into the year. Like I wanted a water bottle, a big one. So I'm like, how's this gonna fit diagonally? And I kind of planned the box around that, but then when it came to do my very first box, a lot of the products were really small. So I'm like, that's, you know, it doesn't look quite as good.
Yeah. And so that whole juggle of figuring out, okay, you have to have the right sizes, but you don't want 'em to be too expensive. Cause I actually have to make some money. Um, and what size do you want your box going forward? I love, you know what, you've talked with people on your podcast who have done like plain boxes, but then done like branded tape. And I honestly going back, I probably would do that if I were gonna do it over because I bought a thousand boxes in the size and I love them and it's gonna work great for a lot of the boxes, but there's some boxes where I'm like, uh, I want these few products, but they're so small. And it just feels like, you know, just a bunch of fluff in there even though they're high quality. Um, I would probably do that differently. Um, yeah.
Yeah. I can relate to that for sure. Um, our box at sparkle hustle grow is only six by nine by three. So that's like the size of the yoga block, very small. And I adopted the discipline of only pursuing products that are gonna fit. And that means that I have to say no to some products that I really, really wanna put in there. And yeah, that was just something that I had to like get over and be disciplined on because it's a business, not a hobby. And I wanted to make sure that the numbers made sense for shipping, for buying boxes cuz the larger, the box you buy. Yeah. The more that costs as well. And so, um, by the time this episode goes live, I'll have another episode live. That is just about how to choose the right box size. Perfect. So perfect timing. So when you ended up buying what size,
So I have 10 by eight by four.
And so you have them custom printed, right?
Yep. And I had Carmen Vermillion. She's amazing design. And I had, you know, they're blank on the inside, but I do like a, a like a half sheet sticker that explains, and then I have my insert as well. So it looks really nice even though it's, you know, it's still new, but I think it, like, I love the idea that it is very branded and it's very high quality from the start. So I do see the pros of that, but I also think if you're really on the fence about sizing probably wait on the custom boxes, just cause it's a huge investment of time and getting it created and all of that on the, the front end.
Yeah. I think that's really, really good advice. Okay. Did you have any other challenges during pre-launch?
Um, mostly just down, I think, especially because I have an audience, I think most people going into this, if they don't have an audience, like if they get five subscribers, they're like overjoyed, which I was don't get me wrong, but I had a number in my head of a hundred. And when I first launched that first day, like I was crying cause I was so excited. I had poured months and months into this and then I got like five the first day and I was like, oh no, you know, what am I gonna do with my life? Like, am I gonna have to go back to work? Like I had all these fears cause I'm like eventually I have to make some kind of income. Um, but you know, over time I think, especially I think that was a great learning lesson that, you know, a lot of people wait to buy to like the last second. And so once I finally was, was like, okay, I'm closing it tomorrow. Then I got like up to 60. So I was like, okay, this is a lot
Better. that's amazing. Okay. The lesson there is, we have to in our marketing share the sense of urgency, whether that's, you know, a limited quantity or maybe that's a, um, timing like closing cart now. Um, do you intend, you do an open cart close cart in the future or will you leave it open all year round?
Um, it'll I think I'm, you know, I'm just gonna close for like that last week of every month for now. I'm still getting the hang of it all and I'm, you know, I, I ran into some issues too, like when I went to ship and not having enough. And so I'm like deathly afraid of that and out, cause that was crazy with shipping and everything. So, um, yeah, so mostly it'll be open, but like I just today, before we even got on here was telling everybody here's a discount code, you know, and trying to get people on the front end. Um, but yeah, I'm trying to still figure out more ideas for that urgency, like at the start of the month. Um, and that maybe a discount code that goes away or something like that kind of idea.
And I think another, um, lesson here is that you, as the business owner have control, like you can close your cart or cap the number of subscribers that you accept. If that's what you need to do to manage your new business. As you roll out month after month after month, you're gonna start getting into your monthly rhythm, into like a routine that becomes familiar. You'll be able to project better. And I bet that, you know, if we revisit this six months from now, you'll be like, uh, I'm open all month long and this is how I manage that timing. Right. And there's always gonna be times of the month too, that are gonna be busier than others. And so December is a great example. Like the first week of December is, you know, it starts to ramp up that second week of December is when everybody's doing their Christmas shopping.
Right. Um, and then there's like those last minute order that, you know, buy the day before Christmas and expect it to be under the tree the next day, which is so funny. Um, but it happens. So, um, we talked about some doubt here and I, I definitely think that there's a lot of, um, mental challenges when it comes to running a business, running a subscription box, this and, and I doubt fear. Those are all part of them. And I think that, you know, you went through a rollercoaster recently because you've had your first renewal day. Yep.
Yeah, I did today.
And you survived. Yeah, I survived yeah, there's just, there's a lot. Um, especially in those first few renewals where, uh, normally people are gonna take a lot of that personally, because if someone cancels it can make you feel sad or less than, or it can make you feel like something wasn't good enough, like your product wasn't good enough. But we always have to remember that we don't know what's going on in that buyer's life. Maybe they had a rough month and they don't have the money this month. Maybe they just wanted to try something. They just like to try things, something new. And it's not that they didn't like it. It's just, they wanted to try something. There can be so many reasons that aren't on you as the business owner or you as your product, like as it, as in it didn't fall short.
And so I would encourage you and all of our listeners, you go through those, um, renewal days to just, you know, try to look at it from a positive perspective. If you get any, um, good constructive criticism, then you know, think about it and ask that person for more information, if they're willing to give it. And if, um, if one person is like just rude to you, or if something's out of left field, just remember, sometimes people have a bad day and they take it out on you as the business owner. Um, so what I like to recommend is over the next few months, if you see trends of the same, um, cancellation reason, or if you see comments of the same thing, then dive deeper into that. But otherwise just continue to keep making your box and your community like a non-negotiable just so jam packed full of value.
Yeah. I love that. And I think I've had the best feedback from the people who love the box. And I got a few emails. I got one email that was just like, money's so tight. I love you. I love your box. And so that like didn't hurt. It's just when you don't have any feedback and you, cause I get up at 4:00 AM to work and I'm like, what a horrible way to start my day. And now I'm like, I'm fine now. But I was like, I just, I hadn't prepared myself. And now I know like the day before, be like, don't check your email till like 10:00 AM and then yes, you've had some coffee and you can, you know, go meditate or I don't meditate. But like if I did, maybe that'll be a day I start meditating or something. Um, but yeah, I think it's a huge, it's a huge mental thing. And I, that's probably been my hardest part is just the mental of it all. What if nobody buys and the day out, but then like, but also trying to put on this face of confidence, you know, and that I stand behind everything. It's, it's kind of a crazy dichotomy.
It is. It is. And that's why in subscription box bootcamp, I have a couple pep talks in there and I do believe there's one right for renewal day because I know that feeling all too well. It does get easier after, you know, your first few renewal days, but there's still that same excitement about, you know, the morning of renewals, like checking your phone and seeing what's going on. And um, it, I think too, you have a great opportunity for those who say, um, that they can't afford it, um, or there's financial problems to downsell them to your community only, um, membership. So I love that. That could be, yeah, that could be like a nice little follow up.
Yeah, for sure. So
I love, love, love working in the subscription box industry. That's that's no secret. So what's one of your favorite things about working in this industry that is so new to you?
Um, I think first of all, I love the community you've created. I have asked, I've asked so many questions in the bootcamp group that have helped me that I, who else would I ask? Like I have nobody else to ask that in my life or no other group that I'm a part of would be specific to, you know, the struggles and the questions that a subscription box owner has. So that's been wonderful and just connecting with people in that way. Um, and also I think just for me, I've always wanted to have a physical product of some sort to actually send to people and as hard and kind of crazy as the whole shipping process has been doing it for the first time. It's just so cool to see the photos of people holding things in their hands and hearing they're using them and hearing how it's blessing their life in some way, like I've cried so much the last few months in a good way.
Yeah. Um, my husband's like, are you crying again? Like, he's he put all the boxes out because I had strep throat and I couldn't move and I'm sitting there crying, like happy tears, but also like sad. I didn't get to take a picture with at all, but it's just been so awesome to see people hearing like I'm using the timer cube, you included and it's helping me with potty training or like things I didn't even think of. Um, and just the community I've created, especially of just these women who are trying to make their lives better. It's, it's the bigger picture. Like I can make videos till, you know, my computer dies, but actually sending out something that blesses somebody in some way, I just think is this really humbling and exciting experience that I've never had before?
I have chills right now. I I'm so happy for you. And one thing I would encourage you to do, um, and start this soon is to create a little love notes album in your phone. Oh, good idea. And screenshot those, those, um, Facebook comments or those Facebook posts or those pictures. And anytime that you're feeling down, like if you got a cancellation or two refer back to those love notes of, of the positive feedback and of the people that you're helping. And I guarantee that is like flipping a switch on your attitude about, um, you know, if, if things get tough.
Yeah. I definitely will. I love that. I wish I had been doing that till now.
Well, you can still do it, get to a group, just do some screenshots. Yep. Um, yeah, I love that. Okay. So what's one piece of advice you can share with new and aspiring subscription box business owners. I would
Say the biggest thing going into it is knowing there's going to be failure in some sense or things that don't go the way you expect and that there will be some hard times in some lessons and just to be prepared for those. I think especially us that love entrepreneurship, even if we're doing it for the first time. I think a lot of us have that in us and we're so excited and we have the vision, but we kind of forget like, okay, there's life still happens. Yes. Um, I had so many things happen the last like couple weeks and I I'm just really working on staying positive. And like you said, I'm gonna start screen capping the positive messages I've gotten from people. And just kind of being proactive about, you know, coming up with solutions, if you're feeling doubt or you're having a bad day or you wanna give up because there will probably be times where know there's a lot of hard things going on in life.
Um, like I, for example, had, I started shipping to Canada too. And I started getting all these emails, like of errors that I did and sending it. And I was like freaking out and like, it was just, I sent all these emails and I had to be like, disregard this email. Cause I didn't even read the full email of what I missed. And it's just so easy to be like, okay, I'm just not gonna ship to Canada anymore instead of okay, how can I use this as a learning opportunity now I know. And I think the really cool thing is to know going into this is you're gonna learn so much that can help you in so many different areas of life. And just, I think it's such a cool learning experience, but it's gonna come with some, some hard lessons and you're gonna have to grow, which isn't always comfortable
Such as entrepreneurship. Right. yeah. It's like the roller coaster, but I wouldn't have it any other way. I know. Um, my husband and I were just talking about that today, how we are so grateful to not have a commute, like that's such a simple thing. Yeah. And to work from home by choice. Yep. And um, in my corporate career, in my previous corporate career, I was driving 30 to 40 minutes in traffic, into Charlotte, North Carolina. Um, and I'm just so grateful for those kind of moments. And so there's a, you know, there's all those ups and downs and stuff, but when I sit back and really think about it, it's so worth it, you know?
Yeah. And for me too, like just being able to be there for my girls, that's something too. Like every time I cry, I, I get on Instagram when I cry, cuz I want people to see just how much it means to me. And when I'm in those moments of like, I'm sending the box and you guys are allowing me to homeschool my kids and be there and I in turn can help you, you know, in, in different ways. And I just think it's so beautiful. Like it's such a, a cool experience. And yeah, I, I love, I love working for myself and as hard as it can be, but it also, so is, is so rewarding and I would love to inspire other moms to do the same, especially if they want a homeschool or if they just wanna, you know, be there more when their kids get home and things like that. I just think it's a really cool business model to be able to do that and have some more consistent income than you would with a lot of other online business models
Well said, and you can, um, include your kids in the process. So, um, McKenna gets tons of the products, um, whether we choose them for the box or if it was a sample that we got, that wasn't gonna be a good fit. You know, she always wants the, she, um, when I, when I launched bar household grow, she was just starting in kindergarten, but it was, um, she was at home with me a lot. And so she was my chief sprinkle crinkle officer. Like, you know, she was so excited to put the sprinkle or the crinkle cut in there. Yeah. And I caught random moments of her too, that I got to share as photos of her, like hugging a box before it came out. That's so cute. Like us really getting to know our, um, you know, our postal workers. And so yeah. There's a lot of ways to incorporate your kids into the journey.
Yes. Yeah. My, my six year old has been, she tells everybody, my mom does work life glue and I'm like, okay, I'm too embarrassed to talk about it. Like I'm excited though, to actually have a physical product cuz for years I just say, oh yeah, I just, I stay home. Like, I don't know. I should own it more. But you should. Now that I, now that I have a box that I can actually like send a website to, it feels more legit. Be like, I, I run a subscription box and it launches some really cool conversations too.
And your six year old can be your hype girl.
Oh yeah. She, yes. I should put her on the payroll.
there you go. okay. So where can people follow you and find you online if they wanna check out your subscription box? Yeah.
So my, my box website is work life glue box.com and you can also get $5 off, uh, your first box with the code sub box basic. And then if you wanted to find me on YouTube, it's just work life glue, um, and on Instagram at work life
Glue. Awesome. Well, thank you so much, Sarah, for joining me today, it's been so fun to watch your journey and it's so inspiring to hear how this path that you chose to pursue is impacting moms who need it, who need that community who need that help to balance and work and life and everything else. So I'm so proud of you and um, thank you again for being on the podcast. Yeah. Thank you
For having me and thank you for your amazing content. It's been so helpful.
Aw, thank you. All right guys. I hope you enjoyed today's episode. Make sure go check out the work life glue box. We'll make sure that we put all the links in the show notes and we'll see you in the next episode.