Since starting my career, I’ve been fortunate to find inspiration and mentorship from some really incredible women. As the years went on, however, I quickly realized many of the gaps women face as they grow professionally. The statistics related to women-owned businesses, female executives and funding into women-founded business became alarming.
The subscription industry is vastly different. For many of the most successful businesses in the industry, a woman is leading the charge behind the scenes. Everywhere I turn, inspiring women are empowering others and sharing their wisdom and journeys.
Whether it’s declining a $400,000 offer from Shark Tank to go on and raise millions a few years later like Kimberly Lewis did, or play an integral role in the merger of two titans in the beauty subscription industry like Alessandra Sales, or revolutionizing the cannabis subscription space like Eliza Maroney, there are so many amazing women doing incredible things.
Together, we’re finding strength and success in connections and collaborations.
Together, we’re making significant progress in what it means to be a woman in business. Not only do we feel the progress among our conversations; the data is highlighting the progress, too.
Progress, as in there are nearly 30% more women who own small businesses or franchises this year compared to last.
Progress, as in close to 20% of Black women are working on launching a new business.
Progress, as in 10.1 million people work for businesses operated by women.
And we’re not done yet.
Read on to celebrate Women’s History Month and meet the influential women in subscription who make this industry what it is.
You Belong Here
Much of the business landscape has been dominated by males for decades. These nine influential women in subscription share what it means to be an integral part of some of the most successful brands in the industry.
Chelsie Lee was an instrumental part of SnackNation’s pivot to Caroo. As such, she was named the co-founder of the newly branded business.
“Don’t wait for someone to offer you a chair at their table. Build your own chair.”
“Being a woman in a male-dominated industry presented challenges, but it also presented me with the opportunity to approach situations differently than others were.“
“Building a business can be really difficult. Building a business as a woman adds additional challenges, but we’re strong. We’ve endured a lot.”
“There were a couple of times I felt like I was at my wits end and by doing one little push or trying something new I made it past the hump. Also, never stop learning and testing new things. Technology moves fast and you gotta be able to keep up!”
“If you have an idea that feels impactful, press the start button. Do not hesitate, because if you do, someone else will bring the idea to life.”
“If you can dream it, then you can achieve it. Celebrate every win, no matter how little.”
“Regardless of the challenges, if you’re thinking about starting your own subscription business, do it! If you’re BIPOC, there’s most likely a gap and that’s what we need: people to fill those gaps. We’re often not the people in mind when things are created, so we have to create it ourselves.”
Founder, Call Number Box
Kalish leveraged her experience in the corporate world to launch her own business.
“There is no one in my family or around me who has paved the path of successful entrepreneurship or has started to build wealth for their families. So I’m the pioneer of that in my family.”
“So many of us start our businesses after leaving other jobs and industries, and it’s easy to think that we only have skills and expertise in certain areas. Being an entrepreneur and subscription box owner gives you the opportunity to learn and grow, to develop new skills in areas you never even thought of before. Just be patient and know that it will probably not be perfect the first time or even the second. But, in the end, you will be better for stepping outside your box.”
You Don’t Have to Do it Alone
“Surround yourself with other supportive and positive women. Implement core values in your business that help create positive change and growth. Create a team that shares the same values as your company. Portray your values to your customer base through your marketing and create a community that both uplifts your company and your customers.”
Co-Founder, The Social Butterfly Box
“Have a bestie that you can talk to about business that understands business and can be a cheerleader with you, support you, have fun with you, and you support them equally in return. Women need to support each other in their endeavors and even if you’re in a competing industry there is so much to offer each other and so much room for all of us to shine and show what we do best without stepping on each other.”
“Hire help! As a business owner, you have to make time for yourself in order to be able to stay focused, see the bigger picture, and build a company that will thrive. Most CEOs of successful businesses are NOT doing their own laundry (nor are they cleaning their own houses, grocery shopping, etc.). Get help with things around the house as soon as you can afford to; it will be WELL worth it.”
“Set boundaries and only do things that are hell yeses. There are no awards for the busiest, most stressed-out woman.”
Learn from the Influential Women Who Came Before You
Whether it’s through networking events, webinars, panels, or a conference, there are endless opportunities for you to learn from women who are leaders in the subscription space. Here are the most valuable lessons that women in subscription have shared at our various events.
“Don’t skip the data, don’t skip the process of tracking what’s working and making decisions about where you need to focus in.”
SubSummit 2022 Speaker and Founder & CEO, Brave Crate
“I remember when I was first starting in my subscription journey, when I would get the chance to hear others share their stories, or insights that I could learn from, it always helped propel me forward. I believe in sharing what we know and helping each other grow.”
Hoy and Principe designed the Subscription Box Planner to help new entrepreneurs manage and organize their businesses without feeling stressed or overwhelmed.
“Study your market. Focus on what makes you different. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and obtain a consultant.“
SubSummit 2022 Speaker and Founder & Owner, Just Deco
Kimberly and her husband, Tim, pitched their business, CurlMix, on the Shark Tank show, and refused a $400,000 funding opportunity from one of the sharks. A few years later, they’ve been able to raise millions of dollars through crowdfunding.
“A lot of times, we don’t focus on accounting money because we focus on making it. Understanding the accounting processes partnered with equity crowdfunding will set your startup business up for success.”
“Launching your own business means you’re betting on yourself. In a world where you can be anything, be BOLD. I started Lucky Box Club with my partner as a means to create our own wealth and offer our customers an experience that simply didn’t exist yet. It brings me tremendous pride to be a visionary within the cannabis industry and leader that can create a path forward for other women with similar values & dreams.”
“I was inspired to launch my own PR agency when I realized I had the tools and knowledge to do everything on my own. I come from an entrepreneurial family — my Dad has owned and operated a successful advertising agency for 35 years. I grew up around commercial and billboard shoots and saw my Dad work incredibly hard to build his business. It made a life-long impact on my mindset and work ethic. In 2016, I was approached by someone else to launch their marketing/PR agency. A lightbulb went off and I said to myself ‘Wait, I can do this on my own.’ I received more and more referrals from existing clients and it organically grew into a full-scale business. That was six years ago and I’ve never looked back. I am grateful for my team and clients every single day.”
“I was able to bootstrap the brand because I was scrappy, I never invested in things I couldn’t afford or take risks that were too big to come back from. I figured out how to work with vendors for terms, use lines of credit, and, ultimately, keep cash flow positive within a few months.”
“Your pre-launch stage matters! You could have a fantastic idea for a subscription box business but your target audience needs to know you exist. If you spend time during your pre-launch stage building your audience and ‘finding your people’ you’ll have better success with your box right from the start.”
“There’s going to be a lot of on-the-job training. I’m a preparer. I researched and I hired coaches that gave me a leg up, but there are some things that you’re not going to know until you start.”
Susan won the SubSummit 2021 Pitch Competition Presented by Pitney Bowes.
“Take the risk and believe in yourself. Do work you care about. Challenge yourself.”
Attend Round 2 of the 2022 Pitch Competition Presented by Pitney Bowes and Praella on April 21 at 2pm EST. You could win a FREE SubSummit ticket!
“What I know when we niche down is that we’re able to find our perfect customer, we’re able to speak to that customer a lot better, and we’re able to build a community of like-minded people who become part of something that’s more than just a box, and it’s bigger than themselves.“
Founder, Launch Your Box
“Growth in the subscription economy is not just about acquisition, it’s also about retention. And then even further than that, it’s about expansion. In order to do all three things well, you need to not only have a compelling product and service that the customer sees ongoing value from, but you also have to have the right subscriber experience and the right foundational platform.”
Brittany is the ultimate hustler. She participated in last year’s Pitch Competition Presented by Pitney Bowes after having a kid THE WEEK before!
“I can be a great mom and I can still have the business. I don’t necessarily have to choose.”
Krysta quickly boosted her brand exposure through TikTok during the pandemic. She leverages her personal profile to educate her followers on the makeup industry while promoting her own brand, which has accumulated over 120,000 likes on the platform.
“I know most business owners don’t want to be an ‘influencer.’ But nowadays, that’s what consumers are looking for. They’re looking for the face behind the brand. They want to get to know you for you.”
“When people can discover new ways to collaborate with others, they can find a power they didn’t have before. I have seen the power in collaboration and how it can affect lives. When people bring their visions together, that’s where the magic happens.”
“The idea for MealFinds.com came from my love of meal kits, and the time spent with my family enjoying those meals, combined with a gap in the market for an aggregation-style website for all things online food and drink. My drive and what keeps me going is the desire to prove to myself that I can build a successful business from the ground up.”
“We all have great ideas, but at the end of the day, it’s all about execution. If you don’t execute well, you will not succeed, and in that sense, that’s how important your human resources really are.”
“Know yourself. Before you can even do PR or put your brand out there, you have to know who you are. Your box is going to reflect who you are. You are the box. You are your product.”
Join the entire subscription community and these influential women at SubSummit 2022 in Orlando, Fla. this June. Get your ticket today.
SUBTA Panels & Webinars
“In the beginning [of my subscription box business] I was not a part of my personal brand… I kept my face hidden away, and I did that because my target market doesn’t look like me. My mentor challenged me to do a post and put my face out there, and do like five facts about myself. And since I’ve done that, it’s been my most engaged post… I feel like they’re buying into me… It resonates with some people.”
“Right now, people just want a human that connects with us. We [as entrepreneurs] can drive that and make something. We [as business founders] are educators, mentors, and coaches… we are telling people how to use the products. We are building that trusted brand with our buyers… Personal branding is essential right now.”
“Her success is not your failure. So often, we get caught up in the comparison trap as we scroll through the beautiful social media feeds or hear of another subscription box hitting a major milestone. You can’t allow yourself to feel less than someone else or think that you don’t add up. You have a unique journey so keep focused on your own goals. There is more than enough to go around!”
In 2011, Akeelah and her husband left their home to travel the world for 13 months. They came back with stories, shared experiences, and a burning desire to teach their kids about the different cultures they came across in their journey. Little Global Citizens was born shortly after to fulfill this mission.
“I did not start [my] business to make loads of money. I started this business because I had a really authentic experience when I traveled around the world that I wanted to bring to my family.”
“Money’s going to go up. Money’s going to go down. But if you want to make an impact on people, you have to first care about people.”
“For both of my businesses (running my subscription box, and coaching others to launch and grow their own sub box), the inspiration came from a very strong internal nudge – a feeling that I wasn’t quite on the right path, and was out of alignment with what I should be doing. I’ve learned to strongly trust those ‘off’ feelings and be curious about what the alternative might be or open up – to lean into my intuition. As part of that, getting clear on who I wanted to help – and how to delight/support them – inspired what both those businesses became.”
“I would advise other women business owners to have a consistent morning routine, where they take time to be intentional about their purpose and their goals and how they want to show up each day.”
“Small successes and failures are key to trackable and scalable growth. Keep grinding, learn from mistakes, and repeat successes. Through tracking, measuring, and optimizing, we can grow our business.”
“Don’t hesitate or overthink too much. The beauty of subscription is we have the ability to adapt and change every month. Be bold and take risks to see what works!”
“Being a woman in business is not for the faint of heart. It’s hard work, but rewarding work. My best advice is to find a mentor, even if it’s a male mentor. Having a good mentor or coach no matter what stage of business you are in is extremely valuable. You can always learn something from someone who is further along in business than yourself.”
“Take your time working out logistics, identifying resources, and building relationships. Relationships will open doors that money and skill won’t. When you feel like giving up, finish the day, go to sleep, and hit it fresh. New day = new opportunities. The more you work at it, the greater your chances of success. Lastly, minimize expenses in the months leading up to your launch so that you’ll have a reserve to fund your endeavor.”
Hayley Figueroa & Irma Marrero
“Your audience craves connection and community. Build a space for them to find each other and you’ll find your most ardent fans!”
Looking to connect with the influential women who are a part of the SUBTA community? Join today.
We are Stronger Together
It’s amazing how much we have in common with those we look up to.
Each of the influential women listed above started exactly like every other aspiring entrepreneur: With an idea.
Then came the hard work, the sleepless nights, the stressful days.
Then came the dedication, the “ah-ha!” moments.
Then came the successes, the indescribable joy, the ability to look back at what they’ve achieved and say “I did it.”
Now comes the advice, the suggestions, the will to pass the torch to the next generations of innovators so that progress isn’t lost.
The community of women in subscription is filled with so many inspiring pioneers that they all could never fit in a blog. I feel fortunate to hear and share their stories as SUBTA continues to grow alongside them. And for all of the women considering this business journey, I say — go for it. Together, we can do amazing things.