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Business Observer Friday, Oct. 6, 2017 1 year ago

Out of the Box

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Graphic designer Betsy Wild is harnessing the power of a popular business model — subscription boxes — through her line of family craft kits.
by: Grier Ferguson Staff Writer

With a 9-month-old baby, a 2-and-a-half-year-old child, a freelance graphic design career and a new business ramping up, Betsy Wild says she's “juggling a lot.”

Her children were the inspiration behind one of the parts that keeps her most busy — her startup subscription box service called We Craft Box. Wild, a Sarasota resident, says she grew up doing creative projects and wanted them to have the same experiences.

“So much of the business is based on my memories and experiences as a child,” Wild says. “I want the business to stay rooted in my voice and experiences.”

The idea came to her shortly after the birth of her second child, when she says she started “looking at how valuable your time with your kids is.”

What she envisioned was something that would help children ages e to about 8 or 9 and their families spend quality time together: ready-to-make crafts. Wild wanted her product to make crafting possible for everyone, even busy working moms. “It's about creating the best quality crafts with minimal stress,” she says. “People feel better spending money on time savers than nice things.”

A subscription box came to mind, she says. The popular business model has gained traction in recent years with hundreds of companies offering subscriptions to meal kits, beauty product samples, pet treats and just about anything else delivered to customers' doors on a regular basis.

“The subscription box business is interesting,” Wild says. “It's new and it's still becoming what it is. I think you're going to see a subscription box for everything possible.”

The model, she says, eliminates a step for customers. No need to go to the craft store to figure out what to make and buy supplies. “Getting into a store is another step,” Wild says. “This comes to you. It's a no-brainer.”

Wild says her target customers aren't just parents but any caregiver, including grandparents, aunts, uncles and babysitters. The one-month We Craft Box price is $24.99, and a three-month subscription is $69.99. She also plans to add six-month and 12-month subscriptions.

Each We Craft Box includes materials and instructions for creating two to three crafts, with two to three duplicate supplies of each for multiple children or parents. The theme of the October box is Halloween. It has supplies for three pumpkins, three spiders and three masks. “It's an ever-changing product,” she says. “Every month will be different. That's the double-edged sword of a subscription box. It's exciting, but it's challenging.”

Wild says she's been able to develop the crafts for the boxes, as well as the design for the We Craft Box packaging and website, because of her background. She went to ArtCenter College of Design in California, which she says pushed her to put together polished products. The last 10 years she spent in apparel and graphic design have helped, too.

Another key element in the launch of We Craft Box is Tampa Bay Wave. Wild is part of the nonprofit's accelerator that supports entrepreneurs. She says she wouldn't be launching at the level she is without Wave's support.

Wild's We Craft Box testers have also bolstered her. “I did a lot of product testing with friends in the area,” she says. “Where I am now is because of parent feedback and help from Wave.”

By the end of her first year in business, next October, Wild says she would like to have 500 to 700 subscribers. She plans to get there by sending boxes to bloggers and online influencers, increasing her social media presence and relying on word of mouth from current subscribers evangelizing about the product. “I've heard the first 100 are the hardest,” she says.

She's expecting a bump in subscriptions soon, partly because people like to give subscriptions as gifts during the holidays. It's literally, says Wild, “the gift that keeps on giving.”

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