Today’s interview is with Camilla Bourquin. Camilla set up a luxury subscription box service for people who want beautiful products sent to them that they can actually enjoy and use.
The other great thing about the boxes is that they support other female entrepreneurs by featuring their products!
If you want to read more of the interviews, here they are for you to peruse at your leisure.
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The idea came to me when my first son was coming up to his first birthday. I’d spent the past year focusing all my energy on him and, frankly, it was time I treated myself!
I was already subscribing to a couple of boxes and loved the excitement of receiving a surprise in the post. I wanted something more high end though that offered more than beauty. Something with full-size products and gifts that I would actually use.
I spent an evening searching for the perfect subscription service but nothing came close to what I wanted, so I decided to create my own!
I did a lot of research into the subscription business model and felt that it was ideal for me. It was very low on start-up costs (although they are always higher than you expect!) and something that I could work on at any time of the day around my family.
I started contacting potential brands in May 2016 to find out their wholesale terms.
I thought we would struggle to meet the minimum order numbers for most companies but a successful pre-launch campaign meant that we had a good number of subscribers for our first box that July, the Adventure Box. I thought it would literally be my mum and a couple of friends and that’s it!
As much as Moi-Même is all about the unboxing experience and surprise element for our subscribers, we do like to make sure that we’re offering great value for money and promise that each box is worth at least £75.
Although we had more subscribers for our first box then we ever could have hoped for, we weren’t in a position to negotiate large discounts with our partner brands at that stage so I needed to come up with another way to provide value while also making sure we were profitable from the outset.
Prior to Moi-Même I ran an Etsy shop selling handmade gifts, so I decided to make one of the items in the box to increase the margins.
An excellent idea if it had been just my mum and a couple of friends who subscribed, but I ended up making dozens of personalised travel journal covers and sleeping around 3 hours a night for a week to get them all made in time!
The reaction to that first box was incredible and we now work with our partner brands in a way that we all benefit: we receive a discount from their standard trade prices, usually paying the manufacturing cost so the brand’s costs are covered.
They benefit from their products going straight into the homes of their target market, many of whom go on to buy more products, plus the social media and other exposure of being in the box.
Our subscribers then benefit from being introduced to up and coming brands and receiving amazing products they may not have come across before. It’s a win for everyone!
To be honest, the pre-launch campaign was minimal with just a few social media posts and a landing page where people could subscribe to our mailing list.
We launched our website and opened up to paying subscriptions around a month before the first box was sent out and, I’m not kidding, the mailing list literally had 15 people on it!
Over that month though we posted about Moi-Même in a couple of Facebook groups and continued with the social media.
The biggest help though was from the lovely Jaina at Which Beauty Box UK who did a blog post about our launch a couple of weeks before.
I remember sitting in the car on our way to the South of France and turning roaming on every hour to check for new subscribers: whenever I did, I’d get ridiculously excited about the number of orders coming in, then start to panic each time at the thought of all the journals I would have to make when I got home!
Yes, we got in touch with Which Beauty Box UK to see if they would like one of our first boxes to review and they offered to do a launch post as well.
We contacted around half a dozen other blogs and sent them our first box, but the best results by far came from Which Beauty Box U.K.
Yes, we have a lot of people buying for themselves but a good number of gift subscriptions too. We haven’t done a great deal of promotion of the gift side yet but are planning to target men buying for the women in their life, when we get to it!
In terms of our demographic, we’re very inclusive and have customers of all ages, although most are in their 30s, 40s, and 50s.
I think the style of our boxes and products inside, plus the higher price point, means our customers are generally a little older than those who subscribe to a lot of the beauty boxes.
In terms of the website, I created our first website using a template but I know nothing about coding, so it didn’t look great!
We hired a proper web design and development company to build us a completely new site at the end of last year – a process that ended up being incredibly stressful and not very successful, unfortunately!
The website is a vast improvement on what it was but there are still a lot of issues that need fixing and we’re looking to do another redesign later in the year…
I’m pretty good at making decisions so don’t usually sit and ponder over what I should or shouldn’t do, but actually taking action on it is sometimes a different matter! I have very little focused time to work on the business so I find that when I do have a full working day, it’s best to break it down into hourly slots and work out what needs doing in each hour.
That keeps me pretty focused, although I’m terrible for underestimating how long things take and often get to 5 p.m. and find I’m still working on the 2 p.m. tasks!
I try to do a lot of work in the evenings but that’s when the procrastinating, (or ‘faffing’ as I call it!) is at its worst.
I tend to do a few easy tasks in front of the TV, generally in between a lot of messing around on Facebook and Instagram! I’ll then go to bed and berate myself for wasting 2 hours of child-free time!
I could write a book on this, to be honest! There’s so much advice I could give but I’ll pick out my top three pointers:
– Accept that you can’t do it all. No matter what stage you’re at, your head will be crammed full of ideas, goals, and plans but it’s easy to get overwhelmed and frustrated when you can’t put them all into action.
Break it down into manageable chunks: list everything down, prioritise and work out what you can realistically do this week, this month, this quarter etc. Anything you can’t fit in, just move it on.
– Understand when to outsource. A lot of women are in the same position when they start a business, very often juggling it alongside children, a ‘day’ job and all of the other things we need and want to spend time on in our lives.
Your time is so precious and you have to weigh up the cost of paying someone else to do a job against the additional income you could bring in if you weren’t doing that job yourself and could focus on marketing, sales etc.
Otherwise, you can get very bogged down in dealing with day to day tasks and not see any growth in your business. In the early days you’ll probably have to do pretty much everything, but always have outsourcing at the back of your mind.
It doesn’t have to be about hiring staff either. I still don’t employ anyone in Moi-Même and I can’t actually see when I would. Instead, I use freelancers and companies to deal with things like design, the logistics of packaging and sending orders etc. The next steps will be to outsource social media and customer service. Although the latter in particular makes me nervous as it’s so important to me and I’m not sure anyone else will put as much care into it!
When we do though, it will be to a freelancer rather than hiring an employee. That could lead me down a whole new path about flexible working, automation and all sorts though so I’ll leave it there!
Get your systems in place from the start. Whether it’s your accounting, supplier/lead management or just your inbox, set everything up properly from the beginning as it’s so much harder to put things in place when you’re a few months down the line.
There’s lots of tools and software you can use to do this, or just set up Excel spreadsheets when you’re starting out. Can you tell I’m speaking from experience with this one?!
Moi-Meme Website https://www.moi-meme.co.uk
Hi, I am Laura. I set up the 'I Want My Life Back Project' after burning out in a corporate job. I quit in May 2017 and set about getting my life back. I now freelance 2 days a week, run this blog, manage my rental properties and am SO MUCH HAPPIER! All the content on this blog is to help you to get your life back too :-)