One of my favorite things in the world to gift someone is a subscription box. I have gifted my husband the men’s Birchbox for Father’s Day, both my mom and aunt a regular Birchbox, that same aunt a tea box, and even different craft/activity boxes for my boys.
I love the idea of these boxes and how you can get one for basically any and everything theme, so when I came across the new Catholic Feast Day Box, I was completely smitten!
I began following John and Avani a few months ago and was so impressed by not only their meticulously curated boxes, but them as people, and I was so incredibly humbled by them taking the time to answer my questions about all things subscription box.
John and Avani live in Orlando with their 3 children, Bernie, Henry, and Lucky. In addition to curating and putting together each of their incredible boxes, John also teaches English and creative writing, while Avani works in medical billing (#supercouple, right?!).
Without further ado, here are John and Avani with their story and tips for creating your own subscription box:
What exactly is the Feast Box? How did you come up with the idea for it?
A Feast Day box is meant to help Catholics live liturgically, to celebrate more feasts of the Church in their homes. It contains three food items to help commemorate three feasts of that month. The food item isn’t chosen at random but is a food that somewhere at sometime was traditionally eaten to celebrate the feast. For examples, for the feast of St. Nicholas we sent speculaas, a cookie from the Netherlands that folks saved for St. Nicholas’s Day.
The bag also contains a devotional item that relates to a feast or season. We have sent daily reflections for Advent and Lent, incense for the Epiphany, Immaculate Waters soap for the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes.
The idea started years ago when John saw a recipe for St. Martin’s goose. He started investigating other interesting foods that had been eaten in other countries in other times to celebrate certain feasts and seasons of the Church. He not only uncovered a long list of traditions but found that several folks had the same interests. There are also many fine books on the topic. The problem is that some of the foods are so unusual to the modern American it would be too costly, timely, of difficult to try to make many of the recipes. This problem stayed on John’s mind for a number of years before realizing that a subscription box is a way to solve the problem.
What goes into making a subscription box? Can you give us a step-by-step glance at curating each individual box and the time it takes for each one?
Obviously, this would be a little different for each company, but one similarity is that the box has to have theme. In our case, we don’t just have a theme but try to solve a problem. Because of the problem we are trying to solve, I think our process is a little unique. Many boxes come up with a theme for each box and purchase the products. We have a number of hoops to jump through. First, we have to work within the liturgical calendar. Next, we’re confined to the traditions that exist for each feast of that month. Finally, we have to find prepackaged foods that match the traditions. Because of these constraints, we planned out a year to see if this was achievable. We revise those plans as we learn about new traditions or new products to be sure each box is diverse and carries the highest quality products we can find.
Because of the diversity of our products, we purchase from a wide variety of vendors, all of which have their own restrictions and time limits for bulk or wholesale purchases. Therefore, we have to plan our purchases in advance. By the 15th of each month we hope to have all the products we need for the next month. On the 20th we can start packing for a shipment date of the 26th.
Did you have to invest a lot of money to get your subscription box off the ground?
To get Feast Day off the ground we spent under 10k. However, that could have been even less. We chose to open in October with subscriptions starting in December for the new liturgical year. However, along with the subscription box, we sold special one-time purchase boxes for Thanksgiving and Christmas. This increased our startup costs considerably.
Do you outsource your products for the box?
Yes, all of our products are outsourced.
How do you market the Feast Box?
Most of our marketing is through our presence on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, though we do advertise in a few church bulletins. We discovered quickly that paying for advertising on social media platforms didn’t pay off for us. I’m sure someone with more of a marketing background would have greater success in that regard. We found more success by gifting our boxes to priests and nuns with large social media followings, and then other Catholic authors and speakers with the hope they would share the boxes on their social media profiles.
Can you walk us through your workday?
Because so much of our advertising is based on our social media presence, much of our day is spent checking social media and making posts about our products. Then we are sending emails to get information on products and purchase requirements so we can plan our orders. Towards the last half of the month things get more hectic. We are double-checking our orders to our product supply. Then we start packing!
What would you say is the most rewarding part of your business?
The most rewarding part is connecting with people. This happens on a number of levels. First, we were fortunate to come upon some wonderful vendors and are happy that could build some relationships there. Guadalupe Roastery is a company that we are particularly happy to know. Next, we are happy to get to know some wonderful priests like Fr. Goyo. Finally, it has been nice to not only sell to our customers but also get to know some of them. It is certainly heartwarming to see their enthusiasm for the faith and contribute to that. Still, the most rewarding moments are when one of those customers discovers new a devotion that really moves them.