Scrolling through the @shopboxfox Instagram account is enough to notice the clean-cut aesthetic: feminine, driven, artistic. However, the ladies behind LA’s BOXFOX, Chelsea Moore, Sabena Suri and Jenni Olivero, are channeling much more than their social media accounts let on; they are enhancing strategy and technology to make one of life’s favorite moments, gift giving, easier and more customizable than ever before.
According to Olivero, when one of the three founders’ mutual friends fell sick with pneumonia, they wanted to cheer her up with a couple of her favorite things. But, “with long work hours, we couldn’t find the time to run around to our favorite stores then get to the post office before closing,” she said, “We created BOXFOX for busy women like ourselves, so that even if you don’t have the time, you can easily send a thoughtful, personal gift that means the world.”
The three women pooled together their personal resources and funds and launched BOXFOX in November 2014, in Los Angeles. In this tech-and-funding-hype era, the founders felt like their lack of conforming to typical California startup ideals, such as moving to the Silicon Valley or doing funding rounds, were actually to their advantage. “We’re up against a lot more glass ceilings — as millennials, as women, as small business owners. There will always be naysayers but we’ve grown into the mentality not to take no for an answer,” said Olivero.
These three women are part of an unstoppable force in the startup community.
“We’ve been hearing no ever since we started,” laughed Moore, when she started talking about partnership outreach to various retail firms. BOXFOX was turned down by retail idols several times over before partnering with Herbivore Botanicals in their first month of business. “Every time we got a ‘yes’ we had so many more ‘no’s’ beforehand, so it was both a humbling and awesome experience,” said Moore.
Scrolling through shopboxfox.com now, retail vendors like Rifle Paper Co., Kate Spade, Sprinkles and Honest Company showcase the founder trio’s determination to keep BOXFOX products aligned with their aesthetic, luxury standard — and, of course, not-taking-no-for-an-answer mentality. “I can’t imagine what would have happened if we stopped at our first ‘no’,” said Suri, and Moore nodded in unison.
The past 16 months have twisted and turned Moore, Suri and Olivero’s lives inside out. The three women are juggling second jobs, social lives and family commitments while simultaneously dealing with BOXFOX’s sudden success.
BOXFOX began by offering a set of standard gift packages, like the Hustle or Jet Set boxes, and later launched their BUILD-A-BOXFOX campaign that includes handwritten notes and customized box creation.
Building each box takes time and effort and a careful eye, not to mention that the BOXFOX founding team prides itself in curating relationships with their customers. Olivero noted that her favorite part of box creation was the personalized notes. “People really say the most beautiful things to each other, and that kindness is such a strong reminder of what we’re all about: real, human relationships,” said Olivero.
BOXFOX’s moral values, alongside attention to detail and artistic aesthetic, projected their growth faster than any of the three women could have imagined. “We hit our 1 year goal in about 4 months, and all of a sudden, every spare minute we could find went to customizing each box and shipping them out,” said Suri. “It’s always been quality over quantity for us, but now we are having to consider getting that extra help when we need it.”
Extra help so far comes in the form of sisters, friends, family members and significant others who have come in and out during peak holiday season to help with inventory. “We’re kind of lucky that we built BOXFOX out of our house, so making it like a command central was easy,” continued Moore. “Everyone has been really understanding because they see that this is what drives us every day.” Suri agreed, adding that “coffee, iCal and noise-cancelling headphones all help — maybe in that order?”
For the coffee-drinking, hardworking trio, this is merely the beginning for BOXFOX. For two weeks starting February 5, BOXFOX is opening a pop-up shop at The Grove in LA, the first time they will have done any kind of brick-and-mortar presence for BOXFOX. “[The pop-up shop] will be an interactive experience for shoppers to mix and match our products and create beautiful gifts to send their friends near and far,” said Suri, “but there is so much more we are experimenting with through our data and research, and observing the way our customers interact with the site. The pop-up shop will be our chance to see how they interact with us in person. We are really excited!”
The three are especially excited to see how the customers engage with some of their favorite and new boxes. As an avid traveler, Olivero’s favorite box is the Jet Set pack, while Moore is partial to the Hustle box because of the mentality the three ladies share. Suri is excited to see the reception to the BOXFOX Galentines Line, adding, “Galentines gifts propelled our business, because women love to give and get gifts. We modeled some of the boxes of what we would want to get or what our sisters would want to get, and the pop-up shop is the perfect time to see how the new line goes!”
At the end of the day, BOXFOX has created the most unique experience for each of the three founders. For Suri, “it’s been the opportunity to be such an integral part of some of people’s biggest moments, whether that’s a new baby or a new home, a graduation or even a wedding.”
For Moore, it’s been the ability to say “we’re there for you” even when time or work doesn’t permit the in-person interaction. Olivero acknowledges that “there’s a constant tug of war between dreaming big and staying grounded. We want to do big things. We want to be the go-to for gifting for any and all occasions. At the same time, we always want to be sure that what we’re doing is grounded in a real, tangible service that makes people’s lives easier — and that much more happy!”
“We’re in that part of life where we don’t want to stop, and we love what we are doing. Everyone around us is supportive of our ambitions, which is another important key to our success as well,” said Moore.
These three women are part of an unstoppable force in the startup community and, in my eyes, are role models. Interacting with them over the course of three weeks solidifies my assumption of the new generation of womankind. They prove that despite working two or three jobs, having a social life and achieving all your dreams is possible.