A box of goodies that makes society feel just as good as the recipient does? Now that’s a good idea. Seeing as it’s the winner of our Lexus Start-up Package, we definitely thought so.
Born out of a particular interest in social enterprises, The Change Box, a subscription service that sends subscribers thoughtful and socially conscious gifts, is the brainchild of Katie de Rooy and cofounder Josh Baird. Each product included in the monthly box is plant-based, and also have a charitable lean, as well as a focus on sustainable and natural ingredients and production methods.
“I feel that this kind of business strategy is a win-win for all parties; the customer receives a beautiful product and they feel good knowing they gave back, and the company develops a stronger level of trust, authenticity and moral brand legitimacy,” Katie explains. “The Change Box was created as a simple way for women to discover brands focused on these values.”
As a side hustle for both young founders who are currently working in fields different to their business (Katie is gearing up for postgraduate study while tutoring psychology students, and Josh works in film), it’s unsurprising there was a lot of learning to be done, especially as neither founder had prior experience running a business.
“Books have definitely been helpful,” Katie says of her go-tos when trying to solve a problem. “Purple Cow by Seth Godin particularly stands out in helping us create and develop a product that is unique and provides a lot of value to our customers. The E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber was also very helpful in allowing us to improve structure and organisation within our business.”
Other than that, Katie and Josh have learned to lean into their circle.
“Family and friends have been, and are currently, extremely helpful in providing insight,” she adds. “We have also asked our customers what they want and this has really helped us grow and improve. I think if you have an inquisitive mind mixed with a little bit of fearlessness, then you can overcome problems. You have to think outside the box. We have had so many ideas, marketing especially, that we were sure would work and have not, and other things that we did not even mean to work and have. If you continuously create and experiment, then you begin to discover what works for your particular audience.”
One of their first steps following idea conception followed this same try-before-you-fly strategy.
“The first big thing we did that really helped us in the long run was running a pre-launch,” Josh explains. “For about five weeks, we built hype around the business and it really helped us begin to develop an engaged customer basis. At the time, we truly knew nothing about running a business and this allowed us to develop somewhat of a community around The Change Box and find out, from our potential customers, specifically what they wanted. This really helped us develop and build our brand.”
With the exception of ordering 300 boxes that were too small and the occasional arrival of damaged products, there has luckily proved to be few uphill battles for the duo.
“We started really small, so any mistakes we made were made on a very small scale and we were able to learn, adapt and fix them very quickly,” Katie explains. “Josh and I both come from very non-financially focused backgrounds and we have had to learn a lot about that side of things to keep The Change Box chugging along smoothly.”
And it’s not just the extended social causes that have been impacted by the building of this burgeoning business, explains Katie.
“I started The Change Box with the intention to help others, to give back to meaningful causes, and showcase brands doing good,” Katie says. “[But it has also] taught me so much about confidence, initiative, and taking risks. I think if you have something you are passionate about, making it a reality can be extremely exciting and rewarding.”