Episode 50: Friends of TPFC - The Ins and Outs of Starting a Subscription Box with Rachel Heath
Jun 10, 2020
As paper flower entrepreneurs, we are always re-evaluating our business and trying to tweak our strategy so we can increase our profit margin while at the same time, saving time. In the last few years, subscription box offerings have been taking off (even our very own Quynh offers one!). So we wanted to explore why a business owner may decided to include a subscription offering as part of their monetization strategy and how they would go about designing the offer and launching it. Naturally, we reached out to the perfect person to give us a frank perspective - Rachel Heath, the face behind the Flora Fun Box
, and the designer of Trill Flora
Rachel launched her Flora Fun Box (which is full of floral goodness) in December 2019. In this Episode, we talk to her in depth about why she decided to pivot her business, how she decided the subscription offering, and the things to consider when launching a new business product.
First, let's learn a bit about Rachel:
1. Introduce yourself to us! Who is Rachel Heath?
Hello! I’m Rachel. I live in the greater Seattle area, and I’m a mother to a five year old and twin one year olds. Way back when, I worked in the book industry before eventually switching to the floral world. I have a habit of picking industries I’m passionate about.
2. What made you switch into the floral world and become a florist?
My husband and I moved to Seattle for his graduate education, and the original plan was that we’d only be here two years. I decided it would be the perfect opportunity to try something out of my wheelhouse, something I’ve always wanted to do but never dared leave my career to attempt. So, I got a job in a floral shop. We ended up staying in Seattle, and I stayed in the floral industry.
3. Is that when you started your events company, Trill Flora?
That's right. I started my floral event company, Trill Flora
, the winter of 2015-16, around the time my daughter was born. I decided to build an event business because I realized that the way daily shops operate just wasn’t for me. Events allow much more creative freedom than most of the bouquet work done for daily deliveries. While I still do some rare delivery work for holidays, I definitely prefer the creative work of special events like weddings.
4. What turning points in your life led you to where you are now in your personal and business life?
After building up Trill Flora for a few years, I got to a point where I wished I could share flowers with people who didn’t live close to me, and that’s something that’s really hard to do when you have a perishable product. My twins’ birth brought lots of sleepless nights, and these ideas started buzzing around in my head. I wanted to figure out how to send stuff to people so that they could make arrangements themselves. So much of designing flowers comes down to having the right tools and equipment, and it suddenly becomes so much easier and accessible and fun then. So that’s when I started cooking up my Flora Fun Box subscription
5. What a great idea! Tell us a little bit about the Flora Fun Box.
Flora Fun Box is a carefully curated, seasonal, floral subscription box. I pick very specific pieces that are beautiful in your home with or without flowers, and also provide you with everything you need to put it all together. This includes digital online demonstrations that teach you how to make an arrangement, plus other tips and tricks of the industry. We also throw in more fun things to help you get in the mood for the season, entertain friends, cultivate your own floral garden, or just get crafty.
6. It must be exciting being able to share flowers with non-industry people, but I bet there are challenges to offering subscription box too.
It’s rewarding to be able to serve people outside of my immediate community. It’s quite difficult to offer my services to anybody outside of the greater Seattle area, unless it’s travel for a wedding which is a whole different ball game. Being able to make connections and share in the joy and excitement of flowers with people in a broader space is really fun. The more challenging aspects definitely include being chained to the schedule of the boxes. I knew this going into it, which is why I chose a seasonal schedule instead of monthly. Other challenges are shipping, curating the right pieces, fitting everything into a box, and designing the box.
7. Who is your audience and what are they looking for when they pick you?
My audience for the Flora Fun Box are four different kinds of people: flower lovers, crafters, lifestylers for home decor, and hosting enthusiastics. We try to include something for each of those types in our box every season. It’s not easy to host a party these days, but I definitely feel that there’s something to be said for making things beautiful and lovely for yourself. Keep things a little more emotionally healthy during your own quarantine experience.
8. There are so many types of subscription box offerings these days. What do you think makes the Flora Fun Box stand apart?
Most activity or craft kits are geared toward children. There aren’t a lot of subscription boxes for adults that actually have to do with creative expression and learning new things. Most subscription boxes don’t come with online education, and most online education doesn’t come with a subscription box. Putting those two together was a very difficult thing to do. They don’t go hand in hand very easily. It’s a lot of work to get the online content done on time, as well as the box. But that’s what makes me stand out the most.
9. With so much going on in your business, how do you balance your busy family life with being an entrepreneur?
If anyone has an answer I’m happy to hear it! I try to have childcare between 6-12 hours a week, depending on what I have going on. Because of the stay at home orders through the spring, that has become pretty tricky. But a big part of it is having support from family. My husband is very supportive and helps me carve out time in our busy schedules to focus on my business.
10. Do you have any advice for an aspiring creative entrepreneur?
Being a creative entrepreneur can be really difficult, because usually you either have a really strong creative side or a really strong entrepreneurial side. It can be hard to meld those two together. My best advice would be to focus on growing your entrepreneurial skills. I think the creative side of things can come a little more naturally and easily, but the entrepreneurial skills are often best learned through classes and networking. You need to focus on staking out your place in an industry that is probably quite saturated.
11. Lastly - a flower question! What are your favourite flowers to design with and why?
Hellebores top the list, for sure. I also love working with berries like blackberries and tinus viburnum. That last one is absolutely opulent, lovely, different. Just perfect. I really enjoy textural things. Cosmos are also a very fun flower, since they’re so happy and just dance in arrangements
Be sure to follow Rachel and the Flora Fun Box to learn more about them!
Rachel has kindly created an exclusive coupon for our listeners to get $15 off with the code PAPERTALK
From Rachel: "We are currently in the middle of Summer Sales right now, with our Autumn box just around the corner, and our super special holiday bonus box (not part of the subscription to be announced over labor day.)
Also, update: you will very soon be able to mark an "international" shipping option and we'll sub out any organic products with a choice of additional non-organic products. (ie, we'll swap a dahlia tuber or seeds with another extra goodie of your choice.)"