Today we’d like to introduce you to Sabena Suri.
Sabena, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
We were inspired to start BOXFOX after a good friend was in the hospital and we couldn’t get to her with our demanding jobs. We envisioned sending her a beautiful, elevated care package with items she could use to heal—like socks, a journal, a book, essential oil. When we couldn’t find a service like the one we imagined, we knew we had to build it. So we started the company from our Venice, CA kitchen table with $5,000 of initial personal investment, enough to get our first round of boxes and inventory. Fast forward five years and we’ve shipped more than 100,000 boxes to over 20 countries, bootstrapping our company to over $8 million in sales.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
The biggest challenges we’ve faced have typically had to do with people underestimating us — specifically our vision and our capabilities. Early on, it was difficult to convince partner brands who hadn’t heard of us and assumed we were “just another subscription box” to get on board. We’re still so grateful to those initial brands who took a chance on us and realized the power of positioning within the gifting consumer use case; these initial partners included Herbivore Botanicals, Compartes, and Voluspa. Another challenge was being underestimated by our friends, families, even strangers who asked about our concept and wrote it off as “a cute little company.” Our aesthetic might lean feminine, but in actuality, we are disrupting a $131B gifting industry on the B2C side alone; corporate gifting has become a huge revenue stream for us as well. Finally, operationally, we’ve had to create systems and structures that didn’t exist, thinking about how we can scale personalization, from allowing consumers to build a 100% custom gift and include a handwritten note with each order.
To solve these challenges, we’ve learned to keep our heads down, work really hard, say yes to things that further the vision and say no to things that don’t. It’s a philosophy we’ve proven can work.
BOXFOX – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
At its core, BOXFOX is about being there for the people in our lives when we can’t always be there physically, whether it’s distance, time, or some other factor. Our mission is to bring gifting into the 21st century—creating stronger relationships through personal gifts, powered by the simplest user experiences.
To solve that pain point, we have two key sides of the business. Our e-commerce site, shopBOXFOX.com, lets customers either pick a thematic, expertly curated gift box, around a theme like BIRTHDAY, HOUSEWARMING, NEW BABY, BRIDESMAIDS, and so many others. We also allow customers to build the perfect gift box, something 100% custom, for any occasion through our proprietary, algorithmically-powered BUILD A BOXFOX platform.
We also have a large-scale corporate gifting business, BOXFOX Concierge, that applies the BOXFOX touch to corporate gifting challenges for clients like LinkedIn, Nike, Visa, Facebook, and Disney, from 25 gifts to 25,000.
What is “success” or “successful” for you?
To me, I feel most successful when I’m flipping narratives and creating positive change in any way that I can. BOXFOX was founded on that very idea. Since the rapid adoption of social media, it’s been said that technology is to blame for disconnecting us as a society. When concepting BOXFOX, we asked ourselves: what if technology could be used for good? What if we embraced what it does so well (access and simplicity) to drive positive behavior? We started BOXFOX with the mission to let our customers be there for the people in their lives when they couldn’t be there physically, using technology to make gifting an everyday delight, not a dreaded obligation.
As such, my biggest achievements have always been related to our customers—seeing the way they’ve made BOXFOX their go-to for gifting, how it’s been a part of some of their milestones (new jobs, babies, and homes) and maintained their relationships. Being named to Forbes 30 Under 30 is directly attributable to the people who continually believe in our product, brand, and mission.
Beyond this, success has come in the form of building the type of company we’d want to work for — one that is inclusive, diverse, and gives women opportunities to leverage their unique perspectives and skill sets to contribute to a powerful common goal.
- Website: shopBOXFOX.com
- Email: hello@shopBOXFOX.com
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/shopboxfox/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/shopBOXFOX/
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/shopboxfox