Eighteen years ago, a friendship was born between Kat Rose and Erin Maureen, the founders of The Karma Box Co. The two friends-turned-entrepreneurs love working together. What makes their relationship unique is how different they are from one another. They both bring different skills to bring to the table – Erin Maureen being the savvy marketer and vendor relationships expert and Kat Rose being the creative mastermind of the pair. The Karma Box Co. is a subscription box business that is made by women and for women.
Each season, the female entrepreneurs ship out a box of six to eight full-sized women’s products such as beauty, home decor, fashion, healthy eats, and fitness essentials. Each box is valued between $150-$200 but only costs customers $79.95. Kat Rose shares, “We always use plant-based products, vegan or vegetarian that are cruelty-free, environmentally-conscious, sustainably sourced, and ethically made.” Their brand’s reputation is important to them, so they’ve spent the past couple years ensuring that the products they select are consistent with the brand their customers expect from them.
Each season, these extraordinary female entrepreneurs give back to an empowering charity that fits their brand. In the past, they’ve worked with the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, Oceana, and Meagan’s Walk. Kat and Erin recently attended the Meagan’s Walk charity event. Kat tells us, “They do a walk every year around the Hospital for Sick Children and hug all the children inside. And that's amazing. We did the walk this year, it was so touching. It's crazy just how many people the hospital has helped.”
Creating a subscription box business has been a fun experience for the two entrepreneurs. Whether it’s finding fresh, new products, seeing the reaction their customers have, or reading some of the fantastic reviews they get. Building The Karma Box Co. has been filled with some pretty epic moments.
Only four months after they launched their subscription box business, they got a letter from Vogue asking them if they want to be featured in an upcoming issue. Erin Maureen recounts, “I thought it was junk mail. I threw it in the trash. And Kat looked at me and said, ‘why did you put this in the garbage? They reached out to us. This is super cool!’” Their brand was only four months old when they were reached out to by Vogue. So it was hard for Erin to believe that the letter was authentic. They confirmed that the letter was, in fact, real. And the feature helped propel their new business to greater heights. And ever since that first big feature, their brand has seen a whirlwind of media success.
Their subscription box business has been featured on The Marilyn Denis Show and The Morning Show. Erin even shares that they were approached for a Golden Globes red carpet event. What’s remarkable about this is that neither of them has done any media outreach. Every time their brand was featured in the media, it’s been a case of them being directly asked.
The two entrepreneurs were shocked when TLK Fusion Inc., a company from West Hollywood, reached out. They wanted to work with them to represent the brand. The brand was known to have worked with the Kardashian family in the past. So this was a huge deal.
Aside from a ton of media coverage, a lot has been done to grow this subscription box business into a thriving brand. Erin tells us, “Kat and I have strong connections and friendships with a lot of other women who are in business themselves. Specifically, in the health and wellness industry. A lot of our friends who are fitness and beauty influencers have been really supportive of our business. So we use them to leverage their followers. They’ve done unboxing pictures and videos for us on their social feeds, which has really helped us get exposure.”
Their strong connections extend beyond marketing too. The two entrepreneurs partner with boutique brands in the local community to help strengthen and support small businesses in Toronto. They believe in giving back to the community by including products from these brands in their subscription boxes.
But that doesn’t mean they’re not picky when it comes to choosing the right products. They test a ton of products before selecting their final few for their box. If the product doesn’t fit within their ethically-made and plant-based guidelines or if the product is simply low quality, they will scrap the product from their subscription box.
Their business is currently partnered with a few freelance workers as well to help scale the brand. They work with freelance photographers to help ensure that their photos always look professional and match their branding style. Kat Rose, having an interior design background, also works with graphic designers to ensure graphic designs maintain the brand image. They even work with an accountant who manages their bookkeeping. However, beyond this, Erin and Kat do most of the work themselves. Erin shares, “I feel like we’ve kind of bootstrapped our business for the most part. We both wear a lot of hats.”
Despite their rapid success, Erin and Kat recently listed their successful store on Exchange Marketplace, looking for a buyer. By day, Erin is a prominently real estate agent in Toronto’s booming market. Her career has never taken off faster than it is right now. As Toronto is currently in a seller’s market, Erin is excited to use this time to take advantage of the Toronto real estate market. And Kat’s passion for interior design hasn’t faded either. While the two entrepreneurs have had an amazing time building their business, their busy careers have made it challenging to manage a business that needs full-time attention.
Erin tells us, “When we started this, we wanted to make passive income. And to start a new project. It was kind of fun for us to come together and collaborate. But, we realized it's more of a full-time job. Especially with our careers being so demanding… neither of us want to give up our careers to put the energy behind the business to bring it to the level we know it could reach. It could be very lucrative if we just had the time and energy to put in the work.”
This business would be ideal for someone who loves shopping. Erin describes, “if you love shopping and gift-giving, it’s like you get to do it every season. Like eight times for eight products.”
At the start of their business, the pair put a lot of work into research to ensure their business’ success. They looked at the marketing of their competitors. They studied what could go right or wrong to help prepare them. They did a lot of forecasting. And a lot of time and thought was put into the brand to ensure that it was something they wanted to represent.
As a made by women for women subscription box business, Erin shares that young women should “have a strong mindset. It can be challenging on your own when the learning curve is quite steep if it’s a completely new business for you. So having a strong mindset to be able to overcome those challenges and get the right support around you.” Kat adds, “And don’t get discouraged because things can go wrong. But I think that it’s made Erin and I grow stronger – just being able to overcome the challenges we’ve faced.”
Some of the challenges that the two have faced with the business includes ordering products late. When a product is ordered late, they need to order express shipping so that they can include it in their subscription box to ship out to customers on time. However, they actively learned from each mistake they made and ultimately failed forward. The two entrepreneurs would be happy to chat with a successor about their business and other lessons they’ve learned as well.
One of the very positive outcomes they’ve had from running a business for women is the support they’ve received. Erin details, “I feel like being a woman, especially now with so many female entrepreneurs out there and then with our connections… I feel like they’ve been really, really supportive. I think the support is strong. So it’s been really advantageous, and we haven’t run into any challenges in that sense. Since our clientele is all-female, too, it’s been easy that way.”If you’re interested in starting a subscription box business, you can currently purchase The Karma Box Co. on Exchange. The business has generated $88,418 and has a 32% profit margin. Their website has generated over 47,000 pageviews. This business also comes with $3,200 worth of inventory. A potential buyer could grow this subscription box business by focusing on media outreach, Instagram and Facebook Ads, and influencer marketing.