Today we’d like to introduce you to Michelle Soto.
Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
I started my journey as an entrepreneur over 12 years ago when I wanted to bring a nonprofit to the community that served teenagers dealing with life-threatening illness. After working as a Child Life Specialist at UCLA for many years, I saw that there was a huge disconnect with the teen population in our community and it was extremely important for me to find a way to educate donors that this was a huge population that was underserved and desperately needed resources both inpatient and out and with that motivation Wish Upon a Teen was created and now serves over 75 pediatric hospitals across the country with our signature Design My Room® Program. It has been an exciting and extremely fulfilling process and gave me the bug to continue seeking out opportunities in the entrepreneurial world.
Fast forward to three kids, one dog, one divorce, and a thriving personal assisting business. COVID hit and it was time to re-evaluate life. Where do you turn when you need to bounce ideas…your best friend of course! Well, that turned into two incredible companies that I am extremely proud to say have soared and are 100% women-owned and run. The Little Black Box® is a luxury gift box company that specializes in curating the perfect gift for you or your company with a portion of proceeds of every box going to an incredible organization, Alternative for Girls, helping at-risk teen and young women avoid violence and exploitation. All products in the Little Black Box® are sourced from women-owned companies which led us to become one of our own vendors and that is how Citizen Society was born.
Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
Having your own business brings many challenges but also many rewards along the way. There are days when I have just wanted to throw my hands up and walk away because it can get extremely overwhelming at times but passion is the key to keeping my focus and determination.
Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know?
We started this journey during a particularly difficult time in the world. We were incredibly inspired by the tragedies of the world and wanted to show our children that you can rise above anything.
As single mothers, we are used to dealing with a lot of ups and downs in life especially because we are both raising children with special needs so when the world turned upside down, we rose to the occasion and joined forces to build a business that could provide for our children but could also give back to the community in a way that brings the community together. Working with other women-owned businesses all over the U.S. with wonderful stories to tell to bring you unique products was key for us in building our brand.
Our goal is to make gifting simple, easy and meaningful for you. We handle every detail from product selection to handwriting a personalized gift note for each and every box. Our specialty is working with corporate clients curating employee or client gifts for special occasions to make an impactful and lasting impression.
It was extremely important for us to also have a strong connection in the community with girls and young women so a portion of proceeds of each box sold is donated to Alternative for Girls, a nonprofit organization, and their mission is to help homeless and high-risk girls and young women avoid violence, teen pregnancy, and exploitation, and help them to explore and access the support, resources, and opportunities necessary to be safe, to grow strong, and to make positive choices in their lives.
What quality or characteristic do you feel is most important to your success?
Qualities and characteristics that are most important for success are determination, passion, and the ability to see past the chaos.
- Email: email@example.com
- Website: littleblackboxgift.com
- Instagram: the_littleblackbox
- Facebook: Little Black Box, LLC
Marilyn and Olive, LLC