fbpx

team blankbox: our first [full] year in business!

the fill: team blankbox + our first full year in business

it’s officially 2020 and the end of a decade! 10 years ago, we were both in our freshman year at holy cross and hadn’t yet become friends; little did we know a decade later we’d be best friends + cofounders saying goodbye to our first full year in business with blankbox! it’s been a wild ride of a year full of ups, downs + a whole lot of sideways – and we’re here to tell the story!

for our first ‘the fill’ of the new roaring ’20s, we’re interviewing – you guessed it – ourselves! we’re getting candid on lessons we’ve learned + what’s surprised us, the do’s + donts of getting press + navigating your cofounder relationship, the best constructive criticism we’ve received + what our accomplishments this year have taught us. our *law + order opening credits* – here are our / their stories

gabi koshgarian catherine wang blankbox founders
blankbox founders gabi koshgarian catherine wang
corporate gifting holiday gifting custom corporate gift boxes

if you had to pick one word to describe the last year, what would it be and why? 


FAST! There are going to be a lot of unexpected things that come up (good and bad) and you have to move fast, change fast and learn fast. As cheesy as it sounds, we’ve developed a “we will get anything done” mentality – when something unexpected comes up, we know it’s not even a question if we can get it done so we don’t waste time with that – we just touch base and figure out a plan to make it happen.

what were your top 2 accomplishments and why are they important to the brand on a broader scale?


Press – 2019 was the year of PRESS! #humblebrag Forbes and the Today Show [among others] #humblebrag we were so excited to have the opportunity to tell our story as founders and show the world a little more blankbox!

Beyond the excitement of the press itself, there are broader brand implications; the first, validation. We learned that press doesn’t necessarily drive immediate sales and ROI (which was surprising, but we’ve since heard the same from a lot of other founders so don’t expect ROI in the beginning!) It does validate your brand and put your name in the mouths of a much broader audience than you can do on your own. 

It also gives you street cred when you’re pitching other outlets, which brings us to our next broader brand implication: learning how to pitch yourself. I [gabi] used to be the master of the next great American novel pitch email explaining in detail what blankbox is, how it’s used + why they should love it; oh and did I mention the subject along the lines of: “founder of blankbox reaching out / [something personal about them or an article they wrote here]!” If you love blankbox and want to write novels about it, that means everyone else wants to also right?!

Hard no. 

Luckily for us [+ the victims of our novels] two really important things happened mid 2019. The first, Cate Luzio held a “Ask an Editor” night at Luminary with senior editors of digital media outlets designed to answer all the press questions you have but have nobody to ask aka help people like us figure out how to actually write a press email. Catherine sat in the front row [if this shocks you, email us because we clearly need to get to know you better!] and asked so many questions and…drum roll please…got SO many answers! If you’re a founder / on a small team and a member of Luminary, highly recommend going to the next one of these. If not, highly recommend becoming a member [and if you don’t, come as our guest]. Events like this designed to facilitate answers to specific questions that are otherwise difficult to get are so important – especially when it comes to the Dark Underworld that is PR. 

The second important thing that happened was meeting Melissa Conner from Jennifer Bett Communications – we originally met at the Female Founder Conference back in March – by met I mean I cornered her and introduced myself [again, if this shocks you, reach out to me let’s get coffee] and she quickly became a mentor of ours. JBC started doing “Office Hours” where you can go and get answers to all your PR questions from VP level experts [this is for brands who are not clients] – for anyone who hasn’t gone, I highly recommend it. Again, any opportunity designed to give you answers to specific questions – especially when it’s one on one with an expert you wouldn’t typically have access to – so important and helpful!

Here is what we’ve learned:


-the subject should be your angle: answer the “why do they care to open this”

-short and sweet. We learned that editors receive hundreds of emails a day, a lot of them pitches. Long winded means they open it [if they open it], probably gasp dramatically at the length and then immediately close without reading the email you just spent an hour crafting. *crying emoji* Instead: open with the reason you’re writing. If you read an article they wrote last year and think your product is perfect for this year’s version, say that. If you read several of their articles and have an angle you think works in their niche, say that. Then introduce yourself and your brand in 1-2 sentences: it’s okay not to give all the information about your brand that you think is relevant. If they care, they’ll ask. 

-one of our most successful pitch emails to date was the simplest email we’ve ever written to a stranger, and it landed us on the today show (hi jenn falik, we love you!) it was a 5 line email from catherine introducing herself as the founder + blankbox that started with who we are (1-2 sentences) and ended with why you care (1-2 sentences). That’s it. 

Alexa, play started from the bottom by Drake. 

 

best pieces of constructive criticism you got and how they changed your mindset?


“Your website doesn’t reflect the quality of your box”: this is actually a compliment framed as constructive criticism but gave us a whole new perspective on how others are perceiving our boxes without having seen them. We’re around them 24/7 so we know the quality, but this helped us not assume that people who haven’t seen them do. The suggestion here was to build in more video content on our website that showcases each individual feature of the blankbox that we’re proud of [the quality and thickness of the box, the built in ribbon, magnetic closure, texture, et] that may not be as visible in a photo. 

Editor’s note: Videographers hit us up at hello@blankboxnyc.com!

 

“I would buy a solid color box but not one with designs on it”: when we were in the pre-launch design phase of blankbox [hi madeline, hi 1,000 designs!], we finalized the 3 we ended up launching with in part because we love them [and the 500 people we surveyed did too], but also in part because none of them is necessarily polarizing. There aren’t any bold colors or super specific patterns that would rub people the wrong way….BUT it turns out not everyone even wants design at all! 

We never even considered a solid color box as we thought those already existed. So many people have asked us to make a line of [higher quality than existing options] solid color boxes: we plan to do this in gen 2 and call them ‘blankbox basics’: stay tuned!

Editor’s note: this also taught us that no matter how much you survey people, do your research, and create options within your brand – you cannot please everyone. And that’s okay! It’s hard not to take personally as the founder + chief “I give so many fucks about every tiny detail” officer but the mentality that you can’t please everyone helps.

any surprises? what did you learn for next time?

PR doesn’t lead to sales – as we mentioned above, this was super surprising to us! Each press hit is definitely great brand validation and leads to more press, but we haven’t seen meaningful ROI yet from press hits. Part of this is likely that some of our press pieces involve blankbox as part of a ‘round-up’ rather than a standalone brand, but we’ve also heard similar stories from other entrepreneurs. 

people want to hear from us and see our faces behind the brand [okay diana, you were right – keep reading and this will make sense!] we learned that people will buy a really good product that solves a problem for them, but they will even more likely buy that product if they feel connected to the founders somehow – to all you seasoned founders rolling your eyes and whispering ‘duh’ to yourself, bear with us!! We were shocked at how much of a difference this can make + are focused on building our own personal brand as part of blankbox – starting with this interview of ourselves, obviously. 

This really came to light when we sent a short + sweet email introducing ourselves to random strangers [+ a lot of people who already knew us, hello CRM user error!] it was the shortest email we’ve ever sent, but had the highest open rate of anything we’ve ever sent. *powerful*

editor’s note: Want to see it? Email us at hello@blankboxnyc.com – we share the love!

 

contracts really matter. again, duh right? but when you are a startup in pre-launch phase working with a big supplier, you have zero leverage [or so you think]. not naming names, but when said supplier refuses to sign a supply agreement because ‘they don’t do that” and you’re in a time crunch to get to production phase and sign anyways….you end up with a higher % than anyone would ever want of damaged boxes. surprise – they don’t want to refund you! and if you don’t have a contract, there’s nothing you can do. lesson learned: do not work in good faith with anyone you don’t implicitly trust. always have a contract. lesson learned 2: refusal to sign a contract is a red flag.

 

talk about your cofounder relationship – what roles did you play and what did you learn?


First of all, we learned that it is okay [and actually better] to get into business with your best friend, if you have the kind of relationship where you can separate personal and professional. We’re both direct people and respect each other’s opinions and work styles so much that it works – of course we disagree but we’ve never disagreed on something we can’t resolve thanks to the ‘feel strongly’ method [trademark pending]. If one of us feels strngly about something, the other agrees and we do that. It’s never failed us. 

We both come from finance + operations backgrounds [hence, the “day” jobs as COO of our respective companies, which we happen to love. Shout out to the best, most supportive bosses in the world!] as cofounders of a direct to consumer gift box company, it turns out we can’t survive on finance and operations alone [whaaaat?!] we have to get creative and learn marketing and social media quickly [hi arianne! Keep reading to find out who arianne is]. I [gabi] was really surprised by how much I wanted to slip into the more ‘creative’ sides of the business and how much I never wanted to see the word tax again – it required a lot of learning on my part [like how to actually use Instagram and how to use Photoshop…hello all-nighter tutorial a week before launch!] but it’s something I’ve really enjoyed. Catherine handles our operations, including order fulfillment and vendor management – as her boyfriend would say, she is a HAWK. Nothing gets by her, which is absolutely ideal when it comes to startup operations. 

editor’s note: I [gabi] also call her the Chief Margin Finder [has she ever physically wrestled the company credit card out of my hands…maybe]. 

One thing we will say is when you’re looking for a cofounder, pick someone with the exact same work ethic + work style as you do. If you burn the midnight oil and have a ‘get shit done’ mentality, don’t pick a cofounder who checks out at 4:59:59pm every night and gets strangled by the tiniest bit of change. It’s not going to work.

Lastly – we learned that we think each other is hilarious. Stay tuned for a couple upcoming podcasts where this becomes all too obvious. 

share some blankbox box facts! [okay fine, since you asked]


most popular box: for personal use, the most popular box is ‘at first blush’ [bridesmaid proposals, which are our #1 personal use!]; for corporate gifting, checker me out is the most popular

most popular filler: crinkle! People are typically filling their blankboxes with multiple items, so the filler lets you ‘stage’ in a really cute way

largest order: 50 boxes [to any companies reading this who want to set a new record: challenge accepted]

Ideas for gen 2 boxes: our boxes have sticky corners that require peeling off the corners for assembly; in gen 2, we want to make these corners magnetic for easier assembly / storage! We’ve also received requests for solid color boxes, which we will release in gen 2 and call ‘blankbox basics’. Stay tuned.

what’s next for blankbox? 


In 2020 you’ll be seeing us in [hopefully] a few stores! In addition to serving our direct to consumer and corporate clients, we want blankbox to be a gift packaging option at the stores you all know + love so you can take care of your gift + gift packaging all at once. 

We’d also like to focus on expanding our B2B corporate gifting client base – blankbox solves a real problem for companies and brands that otherwise spend so much time, energy and additional $ on packaging just so they can gift to clients, customers, investors, etc. we’d like to get our name out to as many companies + brands as possible.

Editor’s note: If you have ideas, reach out at hello@blankboxnyc.com – we’d love to hear them!

day job: coo of a boutique commercial real estate company in midtown 
favorite me-time activity: once a week i take myself on a reading / breakfast date to two hands in soho. their scrambled eggs + a good thriller = <3
currently reading: the wives by tarryn fisher
currently binge watching: servant on apple tv
favorite brand [other than blankbox]: drunk elephant
favorite box: checker me out [this is like choosing a favorite child] – i love the neutral colors paired with pop of color gifts

day job: coo of a contracting firm based in midtown
favorite me-time activity: monthly facial @ female-owned and operated silver mirror facial bar. 
currently reading: proof of heaven by eben alexander and the institute by stephen king 
currently binge watching: just finished lost in space on netflix. i need something new! email me recs please! 
favorite brand [other than blankbox]: dressweights. i love a flowy dress/maxi skirt moment and these mini, reusable weights are the only thing keeping me from not flashing all of nyc on the daily.

favorite box: checker me out – i use one as a keepsake box and keep it on my bookself as home decor. peep our insta for inspo. 

checker me out - blankbox corporate gift box branded gift box
dont stop til youre proud
pass the rose - blankbox floral gift box with gifts

meet madeline: graphic designer [+ chief box designer]

how did you find blankbox [or blankbox find you]? tell us what you do.

i have been best friends with gabi since the eighth grade and when she told me about the idea for blankbox i immediately wanted to be involved. i have always been passionate about all things creative and have a background in graphic design—that’s where i found how i would fit into the equation: i designed the patterns for the three boxes. i also worked with team blankbox on their logo and branding.

what’s one piece of advice you gave team blankbox from the beginning that has shaped their design and branding?

design is a never-ending process (helps save our sanity – it will never be “perfect”); especially when first launching, make sure you are happy with your product but if you keep trying to make every single aspect of every single design perfect, you will never actually “do” it, which is the most important thing. 

the best branding is clean and simple, and we wanted our box designs to speak to that. we kept the patterns and colors eye catching but simple, with no polarizing colors. this also shaped our strategy to create custom gift boxes that people could keep post-gifting as home decor, storage or a re-gift box. 

what do you find is super important for small [and growing] brands when it comes to design and branding? are there any mistakes you see a lot of brands make?

again, keep it simple. also, create your own content, if possible.

what’s one brand you work with [besides blankbox] that does something unique with design and branding that you think more brands should emulate?

i worked with a brand called arts unkajed, which is a brand that sells art pieces and is a unique take on art therapy using the acrylic pour technique – i love how she is proactive in getting her work out there and explaining the importance of each piece – she doesn’t just sell her pieces, but also hosts workshops and rents out spaces in popular markets in boston to teach her audiences about what her products mean and why they are important.  when selling a product or service, communicating the broader meaning behind it is important for people to feel connected to it.

how can brands contact you?

madelinehoward5@gmail.com – email me! i love working with new companies as they get started with logo design and brand idea

 

*editor’s note: this is a photo of madeline and gabi circa 2007. nothing like a good peace sign photo to remind you of how far you’ve come. 

meet brittany: calligraphy + personalization

how did you find blankbox [or blankbox find you]? tell us what you do.

@blankboxnyc reached out to me on Instagram (thank you, social media!) to meet for coffee one morning! i immediately knew Gabi and Catherine were awesome and had created something amazing and i was so excited to be a part of it. if we hadn’t connected through Instagram for “work”, I would’ve totally chosen them as friends!

I create their personalized gift tags (all by hand) using embossing powder and a heat tool! I love being able to add a personalized touch to their gift boxes and seeing the final product put together!

 

what’s one piece of advice you gave team blankbox from the beginning that has shaped their strategy?

If anything, these ladies are the ones giving ME advice! Gabi, Catherine, and I are constantly exchanging strategies on how to manage our full-time jobs with our side hustles. Time management is key and I’d say we’ve successfully navigated our (often demanding) full-time jobs while still keeping our creative juices flowing!

 

what do you find is super important for small [and growing] brands when it comes to personalizing their products? are there any mistakes you see a lot of brands make?

I think personalized items are so special and remind you that an item was specifically created for you and no one else owns that item. I love when products are handmade and tailored specifically for me. That’s the beauty of blankbox! The gift giver can fill the boxes up with items that are specifically tailored towards the recipient! I love options when personalizing items, but I do believe in analysis paralysis – sometimes it’s so difficult to make a decision so some sort of guidelines or restrictions are always appreciated!

 

what’s one brand you work with [besides blankbox] that does something unique with personalization that you think more brands should emulate?

I work with @theme_nyc by personalizing their hand tie-dyed pieces! I love how each piece is unique and it’s been fun seeing the different ways each customer has chosen to personalize their item. I’ve seen customers personalize the wrist area of a hoodie, or the lower back area of a shirt. I’ve even gotten a request to draw a cactus on the pocket of a sweatshirt! I love being able to incorporate each customer’s unique creativity.

 

how can brands contact you?
Instagram is best! @bmletters

meet arianne: social media strategy + manager

how did you find blankbox [or blankbox find you]? tell us what you do.

Gabi messaged me on Instagram and we got coffee! she was running the blankbox instagram full time + needed help with overall strategy + leveraging instagram to target the right customers and drive revenue

 

I work full time as a social media strategist for brands in the health, fitness, fashion, beauty, and female entrepreneur industries. I do everything from full content creation to email marketing, hashtag research, custom Instagram stories, and of course, my signature engagement process, where I organically grow your Instagram account. I love working with budding female brands because it’s super fast-paced and hands on and I absolutely love the fact that I get to be a contributing member of so many amazing and inspiring teams.

 

what’s one piece of advice you gave team blankbox from the beginning that has shaped their strategy? what do you find is super important for small [and growing] brands when it comes to social media? are there any mistakes you see a lot of brands make?

Focus on quality> quantity and always pay attention to the cohesiveness of the brand.

Something that I realized when working with blankbox and that definitely comes up a lot with my ecommerce clients is the question of lifestyle versus more product shots. Based on sales/ customer acquisition and overall engagement, you might be surprised to learn that brands who just really focus on quality product shots seem to perform better than brands that go the lifestyle route. Of course there are exceptions to this—Chillhouse, for example, has done a really great job of creating that more lifestyle-focused brand on Instagram. But generally, if you’re just starting out as a brand or business, you need to be really clear on what you’re trying to market and to whom. Too many regrams of generic quotes or other people’s content won’t make you stand out. Invest in product photography, learn how to use photoshop, or outsource social media completely to someone who can cover multiple of these angles (like me 😉)

 

what’s one brand you work with [besides blankbox] that does something unique with marketing and social media that you think more brands should emulate?

I work with Isabella Silverio (@isabella.guava) as her content marketer and she has been my first introduction on leading marketing and social media initiatives outside of the ecommerce space—What makes her stand apart is her tough-love blunt copy paired with her inspiring and genuine tips and aesthetically-pleasing Instagram feed. She has created a guava girl community by connecting with her audience- she has really taught me the importance of building a strong community for ANY type of brand (ecommerce, public figure, coach etc.) before asking your audience for favors (ie buying your products). 

 

how can brands contact you?

The best way to contact me is via email (seekingmillennial@gmail.com) but you can also always find me on Instagram and slide into my DMs if you have a quick question (@seekingmillennial)!

 

 

meet diana: photographer

how did you find blankbox [or blankbox find you]? tell us what you do. 

I’m a photographer and founder of Diana Davis Creative. blankbox found me through our amazing network of women here in NYC

what’s one piece of advice you gave team blankbox from the beginning that has shaped their strategy? 

SHOW YOUR FACE! People want to know the founders behind this awesome brand!

what do you find is super important for small [and growing] brands when it comes to photography? are there any mistakes you see a lot of brands make? 

Waiting to start. Some brands are hesitant to invest in their business right away and think iphone photos are going to cut it, but people pay attention and take brands seriously that take themselves seriously. Quality images are key

what’s one brand you work with [besides blankbox] that does something unique with photography that you think more brands should emulate?

I work with Native, the natural deodorant brand. They are always trying new things and they aren’t afraid to invest in their photography. They also totally nail user generated content mixed in with their own.

how can brands contact you?

Follow me/DM on Instagram at @dianadaviscreative.com or give me a shout at hello@dianadaviscreative.com

female founder feature: candace ourisman + ashley bronczek, secretly gifting

female founder feature: ashley bronczek + candace ourisman, cofounders of secretly gifting

there is no more appropriate female founder feature at the height of holiday gifting season than the dynamic duo behind secretly gifting! like blankbox, secretly gifting is focused on keeping gifting as thoughtful as possible, with washington dc based cofounders candace + ashley literally flying around the world to source the “most unique, high quality gifts out there”. they’re the faces behind thousands of gifts [and equally as many smiles] since launching their business to “take the guesswork out of gifting”. 

as fellow #giftrepreneurs, cofounders + thoughtful gift enthusiasts, we’re excited to tell their inspiring story! 

where did the inspiration come from to start secretly gifting? and our signature question: how did you come up with the name secretly gifting?

secretly gifting was an idea that came to us because it was something we were organically doing for friends and family. we have always loved treasure hunting for ourselves and for others, so during a lunch with a fellow entrepreneur, a lightbulb went off and we decided to turn our passion into a business. 

our name is inspired by a few things. many of our clients don’t know about the magic behind the scenes so we are in essence, secretly gifting. also, candace’s instagram handle is secretly fancy, which is a nod to the finer things in life but also a reminder to not take yourself so seriously and have fun!

 

we’re cofounders too so we understand that there’s a share in all responsibility, but a natural tendency towards certain ones. what makes your cofounder relationship work and how do you divide and conquer day to day responsibilities?

we like to say that the venn diagram of our skill sets has very little overlap, which is why our partnership has been so successful. ashley is our operations mastermind. she is incredibly detail oriented, which is a huge help since we have a small team. she is also amazing with big picture strategy and keeping us on track. her previous work experience as a gemologist is super helpful for our clients who are looking for that perfect piece of jewelry. i [candace] am the creative mastermind behind our brand and handle everything from our social channels, to copy writing, to pitching to press and beyond. my career started in fashion, working my way up to a buyer and after that i worked for years in real estate on the business development and marketing side of the business. both of these experiences have been tremendously helpful with sg.

 

do you have any advice for new or soon to be entrepreneurs who are deciding between bringing on a cofounder or doing it solo?

we are pro cofounder all the way! it’s such a privilege to be able to have a constant support system when growing a business. we also rely on each other to stay focused and always remember our goals.

editor’s note: so are we! especially when you can leverage different + complementary skill sets.

 

as a two [wo]man band at the beginning, it’s really hard to do it all…but secretly gifting is both a service and a product business… so you pretty much do! talk to us about the evolution of the company and your services since you launched. what have been the two hardest challenges you’ve encountered as a gifting concierge?

our business began as a gift concierge company servicing individuals buying for their friends and family.  since launching almost three years ago, we have had the pleasure of exploring many different avenues. in the beginning we said yes to absolutely everything, which i would recommend to any entrepreneur. it’s a big game of trial and error and you learn as you go in terms of what works and what has the greatest return on investment for your business and brand. 

present day secretly gifting has a few cornerstones of our business: personal gifting, corporate gifting, large scale pop-ups and drum roll… we are launching e-commerce in february!  we are extra excited for e-commerce since it allows us to connect with a larger audience. it is important that all of our fans and followers are able to have a piece of our brand and shopping from our highly curated selection of the most fabulous giftable items will allow people to do just that.

editor’s note: look for blankbox gift boxes on their curated gift site!

 

let’s talk competition: as fellow giftrepreneurs [that’s a word now], we know a little something about competition. what’s your competitive edge + how do you differentiate from the other gift concierge or curated box companies out there?

secretly gifting is not a curated box company, we are also not slap a logo on a corporate gift and call it a day company. we differentiate ourselves by traveling the globe in search of the most unique, high quality gifts out there.  essentially, we are treasure hunters and it is our access to the most fabulous gifts and brands that sets us apart. another differentiator is our commitment to client services. our clients are the priority and we take great pride in delivering customer service that is second to none. finally, with ashley’s background as a gemologist and retail services as well as my experience in fashion and corporate branding, we are uniquely positioned to do what we do, and be the best in our field.

editor’s note: we started blankbox for similar reasons; we didn’t want to be another curated box company, or a “slap a logo on a corporate gift and call it a day” company [thanks candace for our new favorite phrase]. a lot of people ask why blankbox doesn’t have any gifts inside…that’s why! we are a custom gift box company created to make thoughtful gifting chic, custom + convenient. the gifts inside are thoughtfully chosen by YOU! thank you for coming to our ted talk. 

 

you talked about saying yes to everything as a new brand to figure out what brings the best roi what has been the best roi-producing marketing or advertising activity you’ve done? 

it has been the combination of both instagram and local and national press that have been the most impactful for our business. we have been incredibly fortunate to have been featured in every major local publication in the washington dc area as well as the wall street journal, yahoo finance and the washington post. 

 

what has produced the least roi that you’ve learned from?

saying yes to hosting numerous events and in-store activations that don’t necessarily align with our brand.

 

we love following you guys on social media and seeing all the amazing trade shows and places around the world you go to find creative + special gifts for your clients. what is each of your favorite gift you’ve curated?

thank you!  this is the impossible question.  it’s like picking a favorite child.  we are pretty obsessed with our cheeky snow globes we discovered in paris. check out our insta to purchase!

editor’s note: cheeky snow globes pair perfectly with a blankbox. just saying. 

 

how do you discover new brands? how can the founders of emerging + growing brands reading this contact you for inclusion in the ‘experts on gifting’ database?

our eyes are always peeled for the latest and greatest.  we make it a priority to travel numerous times of year nationally and internationally. we attend all of the major gift shows and also will pop into any small boutique in random towns.  sometimes we find the coolest items while on personal travel from fabulous local boutiques. 

we’re always looking for new, exciting brands! brands and founders can reach out to us on instagram @secretlygifting or email us at info@secretlygifting.com.

'winter survival guide' gift box by secretly gifting

we asked the gifting gurus of Secretly Gifting to fill a blankbox with their favorite go-to winter survival products. here's what they had to say:

we're both pretty obsessed with the marbleous, darling blankbox! we would fill it with items perfect for surving the cold winter months ahead in style! each item is as glamorous as the fabulous box it inhabits:

-follain just launched a private label moisturizer and we are smitten!
-this stunning mignonne gavigan headband has winter nights out written all over it
-this fenty beauty gloss bomb lip gloss is as hydrating as it is beautiful

shop the products and fill your own blankbox gift box below!

*all product images, press images, and headshot images are property of the respective companies
**this is not a sponsored post. all obsessions are 100% real

byrobynblair candy art female founder feature blankbox

female founder feature: robyn blair davidson of byrobynblair

female founder feature: robyn blair davidson of byrobynblair

you know that feeling as a little kid when you had a pumpkin basket full of fresh halloween candy all mixed up and colorful and ready to make all your sugary dreams come true?! this is like that.

between wall art, candy dishes, phone cases + jewelry boxes, byrobynblair custom gifts satisfy our sweetest desires + make all our nostalgic candy dreams come true. grab your favorite candy and read robyn’s story!

tell us the story of how you got started. have you always been an artist?

 

i actually had no intention of making candy into a full-time business or becoming an artist! i was starting to care more about the things in my home and making them a reflection of who i am. at the end of the day, i wanted things around me to make me smile. one day, i was inspired by candy in a bowl on my coffee table and made my first piece for myself to hang in my apartment. after my friends and family saw it, they asked if i would make one for them and the rest is history!

 

tell us about the process from first having the idea for your art to actually launching? what was the most difficult part and is there something you wish you knew at the time?

 

when i had that first thought of what i wanted to make, i started googling shadow boxes and going to arts and crafts stores to find what i envisioned. but, i couldn’t find anything like what i had in mind! i designed and created a piece to be thin enough to hang on the wall as fine art but thick enough to have the depth to allow real candy in the piece. when i made my first piece, i hung it on my wall and it made me smile. i felt success in creating exactly what i had first envisioned.

getting any business off the ground is a difficult process, but my decade of experience working for a contemporary brand (which i helped start as well) gave me the knowledge on how to be resourceful and figure things out on the fly. this played a huge part in me finding a place to cut plexi and build my own custom shell for my pieces.

 

what was the first piece you ever did and how has your art changed since then? do you have a favorite?

 

the first piece i ever made was a frame filled with dubble bubble with hot pink writing that said “in case of emergency break glass.” it’s still my favorite to this day! some things have changed since the beginning, like the way i hang my pieces, some quality perfection with the plexi, and the glue i use to help preserve my pieces.

 

do you have team members who help you make the pieces? at what point did you decide you needed to hire and how did you find the right people?

 

i do! from the very beginning i knew i couldn’t do it all myself. the first person i brought on was someone to handle all of my financials, invoicing, quick books, etc. this has allowed me to focus on everything else!

at the stage i’m at right now, it’s a mixture of energy, trust, and skill. i have to feel good about the person i’m bringing on and spending a tremendous amount of time with, and of course they need to add value and be an expert on something i’m not. that something that everyone should look for when making a new hire – finding someone they’ll enjoy spending every day with and who can bring a new skill set to the team.

you created a first of its kind concept, which can present challenges when entering the market. what was your marketing strategy and messaging to start and has that changed? what has been your best marketing “platform” in terms of generating inbound commissions?

 

i created a piece for myself without thinking about it any further than knowing i wanted to hang it on my wall. when i saw the response from friends and family, i knew it was something that could be in other people’s homes and make them smile. it sounds so simple, but it’s really the foundation of why i do what i do. there was no marketing strategy or messaging thought out past the way i felt about my work and choosing to share it. instagram has been the best platform to share my creations with the world and it’s how a lot of my clients find me.

 

you recently expanded brb into candy dishes and a line of prints with dormify. why did you decide to expand your product offering + how do you choose the right collaborations?

 

i launched prints with dormify because i think they’re a phenomenal brand with an engaged audience of people that would enjoy my art. i also wanted a price point that was more accessible and dormify was the perfect brand to do that with.

 

my candy dishes started similar to how i began my wall art. i thought of something i wanted on my coffee table and figured out how to make it. the candy dishes are another way to bring happiness into people’s homes. 

 

collaborations can be amazing if they’re the right collaboration. working with too many people can be confusing if it’s not well thought out and purposeful. i have had to say no to people i would love to work with because they weren’t the right fit at that moment, but there’s always other opportunities down the road! 

editor’s note: all of robyn’s collaborations make perfect custom gifts! and luckily for you, we also happen to have a chic + custom gift box. peep the bottom of the fill for our blankbox + byrobynblair pop of color custom gift idea!

 

what else can we expect from by robynblair?

i have a lot of fun launches and collaborations coming up! follow @byrobynblair and byrobynblair.com for updates!

make a [sweet + colorful] moment with blankbox + byrobynblair!

and here you thought we were just custom gift boxes! we love custom gifts too, especially when they’re sweet + colorful.

brighten someone’s day, home + life with a blankbox filled with a candy dish, phone case or jewelry box from byrobynblair. best part: they can keep their ‘checker me out’ blankbox + byrobynblair candy dish for the perfect neutral + pop of color coffee table centerpiece!

*all product images, press images, and headshot images are property of robyn davidson and byrobynblair
**this is not a sponsored post. all obsessions are 100% real

all images are property of respective companies

female founder feature: kristen tomlan of cookie do

female founder feature: kristen tomlan of cookie do

we all know the best part of baking cookies is eating the raw cookie dough…whether you’re 8 or 28 (guilty!) there’s no shame in swooping in finger [or spatula] first for that little indulgence. kristen tomlan, founder + ceo of cookie do, wanted to make that little indulgence safe to eat, accessible….and fun!

so grab a cup of edible cookie dough + a spoon and read how a cookie shop trip with girlfriends turned into her making all our childhood cookie dough dreams come true.  in the words of kristen….“let’s dough this!”

edible raw cookie dough. genius idea. how’d you come up with it and to what extent did you test the market as you were creating do?

 

i have always been a lover of unbaked cookie dough! i came up with the idea when i was with a bunch of girlfriends. we went to a cookie shop, and instead of purchasing any baked cookies, we opted for the unbaked cookie dough in their freezer instead. that was the moment that i came up with the idea – safe-to-eat & bakeable cookie dough for all to enjoy! when i first launched, i tested the concept online before i opened up our first retail store. it was the best decision i made because it gave me the ability to be flexible & see what customers really wanted before investing in brick & mortar.

 

 

you were in branding and design before launching your own business. talk to us about why branding was so important to your concept and how you thought about it before launching. has the branding or consumer messaging changed since?

 

branding what i lived and breathed. it was where a bulk of my professional experience was focused. creating a product is one thing, but creating a brand is really what is valuable. anyone can copy a product, but they can’t just steal your brand. since we launched, messaging has been the same, which is important because consistency is key. customers know what we stand for and what to expect.

 

 

you’re a solo founder and despite the fact that us entrepreneurs have a tendency to try to ‘do it all’…what type of team or support system do you have to help you execute your vision? who was your first hire and when did you decide to hire for the first time?

 

at first, i was doing it all. i had to. but as the business grew and has changed over time, i’ve added valuable people to help execute my vision and manage different parts of the company. my first hire was my executive pastry chef, brianna, who is still with me today. she’s been an integral part of the business operations from very early on!

 

 

part of being an entrepreneur and even more so a food-based entrepreneur is being able to innovate quickly. how often do you release new flavors and how do you come up with them? have you had to pivot in any way as the wellness industry has grown?

 

we release a new flavor every month. experimenting and recipe testing is one of the most fun parts of the job! we get our inspiration from other desserts, nostalgic treats, and sweets from all over the world! even though the wellness industry is growing, i feel strongly, more than ever, that there is always a place and time for indulgence. it’s a work hard play hard mentality – people are more conscious than ever about they they are putting into their bodies. however, when they do indulge, they really want to make it worth it. for me, i look at it as mental wellness – if it makes me happy and brings me joy, then it’s a positive.

you have a lot of competition and likely quite a few copycats. why does your customer still come to you? on the business side, do you own any intellectual property or trademarks or is there another way you “protect” your brand from copycats?

 

we do have trademarks to protect us, and it all goes back to creating a unique brand and experience that is difficult to replicate. sure, we have copy cats, which is a form of flattery. however, i don’t think there is anyone who is doing it truly how we are.

 

signature question – how did you come up with the name do?

 

it was the first thing i decided when i came up with the business. the name was going to be dō, spelled how “dough” is pronounced. the business was all about the dough, so i wanted the name to reflect that.

 

what’s next for do? (asking this question so you can talk about your cookbook coming out but feel free to add anything else!)

 

i have a cookbook coming out in october! hello, cookie dough is 110+ recipes to eat, bake & share! it’s been a labor of love that i have been working on for over 2 years. it’s such a great extension of me and of the brand. i can’t wait for people to be able to make safe-to-eat cookie dough at home!

where are you from? st. louis, missouri

favorite brand that does branding really well (should i say brand again): glossier, soulcycle, apple

favorite do flavor: heavenly!

is there another type of food or food category you think could use disruption? (what do did for cookie dough, dirty lemon did for lemon water, etc.) i think there is always room for innovation in food!

female founder you admire and why: julie rice, christina stembel, whitney wolfe herd

favorite restaurant in nyc: rucola or colonie (my fav neighborhood spots)

words you live by: do what makes you happy

finally, you can have your cookie dough and eat it too. 

*all product images, press images, and headshot images are property of kristen tomlan and cookie do
**this is not a sponsored post. all obsessions are 100% real

all images are property of respective companies

female founder feature: neha govindraj, co-founder + coo, glowbar

female founder feature: neha govindraj, co-founder + coo of glowbar

it’s an age old dilemma [no pun intended]: what is the secret to looking young forever? i say this with the full backing of my degree from sephora university: SKINCARE!!!! one strong skincare routine a day keeps the wrinkles at bay, and keeps us youthfully glowing with clear, beautiful skin in the meantime. yes, please. 
co-founder + coo neha govindraj is making glowbar the new secret weapon for your skincare: a cross between a spa and a dermatologist, they use clinical products and science-proven techniques to keep you glowing….and going. everything is under 30 minutes, meaning you can get in, get out, and get on with your day. read their story below!

first things first – you have a super cool story before glowbar. tell us! how did your previous experience help shape glowbar?

 

before glowbar, i was at bain & company as a management consultant and loved it! i primarily consulted businesses in retail / consumer in ideating and implementing strategic decisions. my experience at bain gave me perspective on how businesses grow, what problems they face and how to solve them. i also spent some time at glossier working with their executive team on growth strategy. these experiences helped set me up for success with starting glowbar because i felt so ready to build towards a vision and tackle any problems that came our way.

 

what sets glowbar apart from other facial spas? talk to us about how your differentiators helped you raise money. what questions did investors ask and were there any that surprised you?

 

glowbar is all about real results and professional skincare, offered in 30 minutes. we’re truly an intersection of a spa and a dermatologist: all the brands we use are clinical / professional grade and we aim to do things in the treatment room that you can’t easily do at home–– that is why we even have you cleanse your face for us (at our gorgeous wash bar)!

during the fundraising process, it was so important for us to stress how our differentiators would translate to the consumer. it wasn’t enough to just state what the differentiators were – that was an interesting learning, and it led us to build a strong strategy on educating our potential customers.

 

how do your investors come into play in the day to day of the business (for example – are they more focused on growth or are they ‘in the weeds’, helping you guys decide on what products to sell/hiring/marketing strategy, etc?)?

 

our investors really expand our existing network. they are the best people to go to with any growth-related (or sometimes even, ‘in the weeds’-related) “asks” –– which we often do!  they either weigh in themselves, or put us in touch with whoever they think is best suited to answer. 

 

signature question – how did you come up with the name for glowbar?

 

rachel (my co-founder) actually did in her apartment one day, and it stuck! we love it because the name ‘glowbar’ gets people in the right mindset of what to expect–– a destination that leaves you glowing.

what advice would you give other entrepreneurs looking to open their first retail location? any lessons learned?

 

ask a lot of questions. and continuously follow up with people. brick and mortar was a new beast to me–– there are so many moving pieces, and a lot of instances where things might slip through the cracks. understanding what those are and being on top of it is tough but important!

 

you launched just over a month ago. tell us about the experience – the great, the good, the bad, the ugly.

 

it’s been incredible seeing all the thought and work behind building glowbar starting to come to life. beyond that, watching people experience the brand and build new habits is truly the most rewarding part–– they just get it and it works. the tough part? being consistently on your a-game. we’re open 7 days a week, 11-14 hours a day. that means making changes real-time to continuously optimize for providing the best possible experience for clients and our team, while simultaneously thinking about the future!

 

since launch, you guys have executed super unique and creative marketing strategies. talk to us about them. what marketing strategy has seen the best roi so far? 

 

thank you! one of our favorite initiatives right now is the “tear one” flyers we have posted throughout the city. we’re continuously replenishing them and people have been loving them! they’re a nod to those babysitter flyers back in the day. and hey, they work. some of them have “lucky you” written on them which let you come in for a treatment on us!

we also have a few ‘face it forward’ cards floating around–– if you land your hands on one, you come in for a treatment on us, and then… ‘face it forward’ (aka pass it to a friend to do the same!)

 

you co-founded the company with rachel – what were you looking for in a cofounder and talk to us about your strategy for tackling different roles. 

 

i couldn’t love mine and rachel’s relationship more. we are both so different in what energizes us (making it easy for us to tackle different roles), but are so similar in our values and goals. it was clear off the bat when meeting rachel that she was ego-less, sharp, and in this to start a great business that people needed. with that, i quickly knew she was someone i wanted to build with–– i am forever grateful to have taken the leap and now be in a founder relationship centered in confidence and respect. we continuously put our brains together to make sure that glowbar is the best it can be and nothing slips through the cracks.

 

what’s next for glowbar?!

 

so much. but first, more locations! 😉 

where are you from? south florida

 

favorite brand other than glowbar: peloton

 

biggest mistake you see startups making (drawing on mgmt consulting experience): not questioning every, single, part of what exists today.

 

skincare routine: cleanse, tone, treat, moisturize + spf (am only). morning and night.

 

self-care activity: dancing in front of my mirror by myself.

 

female founder you admire and why: kirsten green. what she’s built with forerunner is incredible, in a space where few female founders exist.

 

favorite place in nyc besides glowbar: my apartment. it sparks so much joy and i love hosting.

 

words you live by: ask enough of the right questions and you will figure it out.

now imagine if you could get a facial in the time it just took you to read this. thanks to neha + rachel, now you can! book glowbar here!

*all product images, press images, and headshot images are property of neha govindraj and glowbar
**this is not a sponsored post. all obsessions are 100% real

all images are property of respective companies

female founder feature: divya gugnani, founder + ceo of wander beauty

female founder feature: Divya gugnani, founder + ceo of wander beauty

it’s july, which means we’re officially less than 6 months away from 2020 (*what*) and we’re spending the month going back and forth between home and the closest body of water. between the constant travel and hustling to crush those 2019 goals, one thing is for sure: not one of us has time for a 20-step beauty routine. divya gugnani, founder + ceo of wander beauty…..just gets it. like her brand name suggests, her mission is to keep us gorgeous on the go. in her own words, “less time spent in front of a mirror, and more time doing”. can we get an amen?!

your background is in tech… how on earth did you go about breaking into the beauty industry? 

i’ve always had a strong interest in beauty, especially as someone who loves to cook (i went to culinary school!) who can be found concocting a face mask with the ingredients in my kitchen. after my last company ‘send the trend’ sold to qvc, i joined the qvc team and led digital innovation where i spent a lot of time on their beauty brands and business. i had the opportunity to work with some amazing brands, but none of them were speaking to my lifestyle. most brands were advocating artistry and 20-step routines, but i was a mom of two working full-time, getting ready on the subway each morning. i didn’t have time or space for that type of routine. i needed products that multitasked the way i did and kept me gorgeous on the go – so my co-founder, lindsay and i created them.

 

being a serial entrepreneur, disrupting industries is in your nature. tell us how you’ve disrupted the beauty industry with wander.

most beauty brands tell you that you need more, more, more: a separate cream for your body than you use on your elbows, five brushes to do a full face. wander beauty is saying the opposite. we’re giving you fewer multitaskers that streamline your routine, without compromising on performance or ingredients. all of our multitaskers set out to solve a problem, whether it’s a our dual-ended dualist concealer that allows you to both conceal and brighten with a two-in-one formula or our play all day translucent powder that eliminates the traditional mess and waste associated with a translucent powder by storing the powder inside of the puff. 

   

talk to us about your marketing ‘message’ to consumers? who is your target customer and why does she value your product? how do you communicate your value prop to her?

our target customer goes beyond sociodemographics – we are catering the time-starved woman who is living her life in motion and doing her beauty routine beyond the bathroom. we are offering her less time spent in front of a mirror, and more time doing

we work to socially co-create all of our products with our community so that we are not just giving her something that she wants, but something that she is asking us for. we are always asking ourselves how we can innovate, from packaging to formula, to give her the best solution to the problem she presents us with. 

 

you serve as ceo of wander, but co-founded the company with former victoria’s secret model lindsay ellingson. how do you divide + conquer in your roles?

lindsay and i come from such different backgrounds, but shared the same problem of not feeling spoken to in the beauty space as women living life on the go. we both have different strengths, which complement each other. she is our creative director and spearheads all of our creative. i’m our ceo and a data junkie and work more on the business side. we overlap on product development, which we are both so passionate about and bring our own unique perspectives to. 

 

wander is currently in it’s last month of it’s pop-up shop on the upper east side. can you tell us a little bit more about that experience and why you decided to do it? is this the store’s first pop-up?

yes! this is the brand’s first-ever pop up store. being a predominantly direct to consumer brand, we rely on our own digital storytelling and content to bring the brand to life through a screen, which is why we own the process internally rather than outsource. beauty is such a tactile experience, and we wanted to bring the brand alive in real life – and what better place to serve an on-the-go consumer than new york city? since our inception, we’ve seen the most growth from owning our own branding and storytelling, and having that then drive our own .com’s growth as well as having a halo effect on our retail growth. by owning our retail experience, our goal was to drive brand awareness while continuing to foster that personal relationship with our community.

 

what challenges have you faced with the pop-up vs. your online direct-to-consumer platform?

if you’re not challenged, you’re not learning! the entire pop up has been a learning experience – especially since i had never launched a pop up space myself. we’re lucky that we are still small and agile enough that we can still experiment and learn from our mistakes and adapt in real time. for example, we tested several types of our daily classes in our first few days to see what topics and times resonated most, and adjusted the following week to better accommodate our consumer and continued to adapt throughout the pop up as we see patterns. at the pop up store, it’s all about human interaction and bringing the brand to life through our ambassadors once they’re through the door. 

 

we spend a lot of time talking about what works in starting + growing a business, but as you know a lot of entrepreneurs live and breathe what doesn’t work (the hard way). tell us something that has worked really well for your brand and something that hasn’t worked for your brand that maybe you expected to?

i think our focus has really worked for us. we want to be something to someone not everything to everyone. we are two modern women who are more time-starved, busy and active. we are always doing beauty beyond the bathroom ™, and we focused on that lifestyle across all age groups, ethnicities and geographies. we are inclusive yet focused on our clients and their lifestyle. we create multitaskers that serve a purpose in their lives and save them time and space. with regards to what doesn’t work well, we thought that being in traditional retail channels would allow new clients to discover us. what we realized is that many retails have a vast array of brands and with limited space both in stores and online we don’t have chance to highlight our innovation and differentiation. so we learned from that and decided to pursue our dtc business and truly own our conversation with our clients and our community.

 

our signature question, how did you come up with the name ‘wander’?

we’re all about staying gorgeous on the go, so travel inspiration is the thread that runs through all of our branding and imagery. ‘wander’ came from the idea that even if your life is busy, whether with the day-to-day of life or a jetsetting adventure, your beauty routine should wander with you.

 

editors note: visit the wander beauty pop up store through july 31st at 787 lexington avenue (between 61st and 62nd street) and mention the fill to get 20% off of your purchase

favorite piece in the wander collection: this is like picking a favorite child! right now, i can’t stop using our trip for two blush and bronzer duo. it’s makes me look like i spent the weekend at the beach without having to go anywhere.  

 

female founder who inspires you: sarah kauss at s’well. at wander we create multitaskers so you can do more with less products. we care about sustainability and that mission lives through our product and packaging decisions. sarah has taken it to the next level with s’well and i admire that.

 

favorite me-time activity: swimming. i call it my “vision time” – completely device-free, and i can be truly alone with myself. 

 

favorite restaurant: novikov in miami- the fish is fresh and spectacular and i have yet to have a less than outstanding meal there.

 

go-to brands (other than wander): obe fitness for home workouts, tamara mellon for comfortable well crafted shoes, giapenta for intimates, primary for my kids clothes, inkbox for when i’m feeling adventurous and want to make a temporary bad decision. 

 

personal mantra / favorite quote: “i do not fix problems. i fix my thinking. then problems fix themselves.” -louise hay

 

fun fact about you that most people don’t know: i love to travel. i went to 18 countries during my two years doing my masters degree.

you know what they say….we have the same 24 hours in a day as beyonce. divya and lindsay, thank you for letting us use less of that time beautifying and more of that time….becoming beyonce. or as close as possible. 

*all product images, press images, and headshot images are property of divya gugnani and wander beauty
**this is not a sponsored post. all obsessions are 100% real

all images are property of respective companies

sweats and the city - blankbox female founder feature the fill

female founder feature: sweats + the city

female founder feature: sweats + the city

dale borchiver + elizabeth endres

best known from their highly curated and cheekily named instagram handle @sweatsandthecity, founders dale + elizabeth decided to leave careers in fashion + finance to pursue a sweatier path. they’re making it easy to navigate the sometimes overwhelming scene that is nyc fitness, serving up honest class reviews, serious outfit + lifestyle inspo & most importantly…..snack time Q+A! speaking of, grab a snack and read our Q+A with them below!

neither of you are native new yorkers. what brought you here and what did life look like before satc? 

dale: i originally came here for school, and later to work in fashion.
elizabeth: i moved to nyc for a job in finance at bloomberg. we were both dying to get to nyc before moving here!
 

we’ve all been there…midnight brainstorm sessions, waking up in the middle of the night with crazy ideas, thinking about and conceptualizing your new business 24/7…talk to us about that ‘aha!’ moment where you decided to start satc and how you originally envisioned the concept. 

the concept of satc was in the works for a long time without us necessarily knowing it! we found ourselves coming home at the end of most days and discussing the new studios & workouts we tried that day. we were searching for a platform that would give us the kind of ‘insider scoop’ studio details we were chatting about and couldn’t find anything. so, we decided to take matters into our own hands. we sat on the concept for about 8 months, putting together review lists (mostly for friends), before we decided to go live with it officially. it was really when we decided on a name that we we’re like “ok, this is really happening”. 

our signature question! – what’s the inspiration behind the name? 

as we’re sure you could probably tell, the name is a play on the show sex & the city. and as two 20-something year olds in nyc, we really felt it made perfect sense. 

how long did you keep satc as a side hustle before transitioning to full time? what was that transition like and do you have any advice for other “side hustlers” looking to take the leap and monetize a hobby or a side hustle? 

it took us about a year and a half doing until finally deciding to go full time with satc. when we reached the point where our full-time jobs were holding us back from opportunities, we knew it was time. it took a lot of preparation from a financial planning standpoint, and was definitely scary, but we’ve never looked back! our advice is to 1) keep your eye on the prize – we set a date we thought was feasible and we stuck to it and 2) plan well – look at your monthly income (growth & averages) & also your expenses, and plan accordingly! 

we know a little something about getting into business with your best friend! it’s funny because a lot of people warned us against it, but with our personalities it works perfectly and it’s clearly working for you! talk to us about how you navigate mixing business + friendship and any advice you have for two friends thinking of getting into business together? 

because we know each other so well, it’s a big plus that we always feel comfortable being open and honest, especially if we disagree on something. but, in working with your best friend, it’s also important to not take things personally and to look at the big picture. a big part of our job is being social and attending events, so it’s great to be able to do that together! 

how do you balance all the different roles of running a business between the two of you? 

at first, before we had established our unique roles, it was kind of chaotic! it’s honestly trial and error – once we were able to figure out what we should both be doing, as well as jobs that we each loved and wanted to manage on our own, things flowed really nicely. we keep a very thorough (and color coordinated, obvi) spreadsheet where our roles are clearly outlined. the jobs we add, remove & expand are ever changing, but it’s so important to have these listed out! 

talk to us about the workouts! do you guys work out every single day? if you had to pick a favorite from all your class reviews, what would it be? 

we definitely give our bodies rest days! recovery is super important. we aim to workout 4-5 days a week, but really depends on the week, our travel & schedules. our favorites are ever-changing, but right now we are obsessed with the sculpt class at dancebody. it’s the perfect combo of dancing & toning. 

let’s state the obvious….you’re both fit af. talk to us about the types of workouts you do and what you see the most results from? what makes a class really stand out to you vs. just an okay experience? 

that’s so nice of you – thank you!! we find a mix of light cardio and sculpting is the most effective for both of our bodies, but it truly varies for everyone. we went through a period a few years ago where we were doing a lot of really strenuous workouts, and not seeing the results we wanted (or feeling the way we wanted to, tbh), and that’s really what lead us to this. we are all about variety, though, and aren’t afraid to throw something intensive into the mix occasionally! 

a great studio experience really begins from the moment you book online til the moment you leave the studio. we appreciate when a studio goes the extra mile, which looks like: great amenities, welcoming staff, and a nice clean environment (& bonus points for having mints, haha). you want to leave the workout feeling great, not just physically, but mentally too. when it comes to instructors, an instructor that is not only super knowledgeable, but supportive, welcoming and encouraging is key. oh, and a killer playlist helps, too! 

 

in a world where everyone is trying to be an “influencer” and the rest of us can get exhausted by content, two things stand out to us about your brand. first, we both regularly watch all of your content and can’t say the same about many others. second, we’ve also seen your media kit so we know you deliver unusually high engagement and strong revenue generation for yourself + other brands you collaborate with. from your perspective, what makes you stand out to your audience? what specific actions have you taken to make it this way?

when we started satc, our goal was to be a relatable & trustworthy source when it came to fitness, wellness & health. there can be a lot of noise in the fitness space and most people don’t have the time and/or money to test out the insane amount of products and services available to them. we have made it our mission to showcase what we love (and don’t!) with all the raw, real details so our community can make informed decisions. and our hope is that people follow us & engage with us because of that! 

what started with class reviews has already evolved into so much more. what else can we expect from satc in the future? where do you see the brand in 1 year / 5 years? any pipe dreams for satc? 

we’ve already started to dabble in products collaborations with existing brands (check out our sweaty stuff bag here!), and we’d love to continue that. we’ve also been working hard to build out our website, particularly a project to create an interactive studio review map – launching soon! a long-term goal of ours has been to be ‘the infatuation’ of class reviews, so this new online offering should get us closer to that. stay tuned for more collaborations, city exploration, etc.! 

talk to us about your partnerships. what types of companies do you work with and why? how do you balance making a living with ensuring each brand gets dedicated, high quality content (which means time + energy on your part!) 

we’re very selective when it comes to the brands we align with. it’s so important to us that these companies share the same values as we do, and we have to believe in the product. for example, we often receive pitches for “quick fix” type detoxes and diets, which goes entirely against our brand … these are a definite ‘no’ from us. we also limit how many we work with, especially when it comes to certain categories (especially beauty!), in order to maintain our authenticity. our rates are reflective of all of this, as well as the time and energy we put into creating campaigns. 

you’ve worked with huge companies (victoria’s secret, bloomies, etc.) and start-ups, which are two totally different animals. do you approach them differently? 

our approach to all brands is the same, but their approaches can definitely vary, and it doesn’t necessarily have to do with their size. this was something that surprised us! some brands are highly involved in the content creation process, and some offer a lot of flexibility … we love when brands trust our creative direction, because no one knows our community better than we do! regardless, we always make sure that no matter which brand we’re working with, we’re presenting their product/service in our own voice, in a way that resonates with our community. 

as a brand, it can be tough to know what to expect with an influencer partnership! give us some partnership advice – what we should look for, how do you set your prices and demonstrate how a brand can trust the expected outcome? 

it’s important that both parties are very clear on the deliverables and that both parties see value in the partnership. we never promise specific results (you can’t know for sure how your community will react). we try our best to ensure that our prices reflect the effort we’re putting into our content creation, the demand at the time, as well as the value that content is bringing to a brand – whether that’s general awareness or conversions. we are big on numbers, too! we provide brand statistics & case studies prior to working with us so they can get a feel for what we bring to the table. 

you’re both working out and on social media a lot. when you’re not ‘on’, what are you doing? 

sweats has pretty much become our lives! even if we’re not active on social media, we’re doing a ton of work behind the scenes. but, when we’re not working, we’re both pretty social and love to recharge with self-care: reiki, meditation, reading, facials, going out to dinner with friends. 

with that said, your lives are very public through your platform. how do you deal with the negativity and unsolicited opinions? any advice for how to block out the haters (besides dark sunglasses obvi) 

we’ve gotten better at dealing with negativity with time, and it’s probably a combination of desensitization and growth. that’s not to say that a harsh message doesn’t ever upset us, but it’s a lot easier to let it go. we also have each other, and that helps a lot! when you put yourself out there, negativity unfortunately comes with the territory. we always like to remember this — what other people think of you is none of your business. 

 

favorite workout (boutique): ‘the sculpt society’ with megan roup, ‘hot pilates’ (in la), ‘sculpt’ at dancebody 

favorite workout (not boutique): barre3 

brand you’d love to work with: w hotels 
go-to beauty product: skii essence 
female founder you admire: oprah 
one meal for the rest of your life, what is it? avocado toast with two eggs, over hard 🙂 
nyc neighborhood: west village & soho 
if you were doing something other than satc, what would it be? this is a hard one! i did really like working in advertising – so possible something in that area. 
me-time / social media break activity / thing that keeps you sane: meditation therapy – i go weekly, it’s the best! 

sweats and the city - blankbox female founder feature the fill

favorite workout (boutique): bunda (la) or any dance-cardio-sculpt mix (“body” by amanda kloots, isaac boots “torchd”, “sculpt society” by megan roup, “sculpt” dancebody).

favorite workout (not boutique): barre, core power yoga 

brand you’d love to work with: equinox 
go-to beauty product: laura mercier tinted moisturizer 
female founder you admire: sara blakely 
one meal for the rest of your life, what is it? yogurt bowl, with granola, berries and almond butter! 
nyc neighborhood: noho 
if you were doing something other than satc, what would it be? most likely still be in fashion! 
me-time / social media break activity / thing that keeps you sane: walking with my headphones in, listening to a podcast or one of our sweats playlists!  

dale and elizabeth, thank you for keeping it real on the [sometimes crazy, sometimes expensive, sometimes culty, sometimes hard for the coordination-challenged, but always fun + healthy for us] scene that is NYC fitness! and for reminding us that while it’s usually a good idea to work out, it’s also okay to skip it and binge watch netflix on your couch and having yourself a SNACKTIME.  

*all product images, press images, and headshot images are property of sweats and the city 
**this is not a sponsored post. all obsessions are 100% real

sweats and the city - female founder feature the fill

june: the fifth issue

june: the fifth issue

female founder feature: sweats + the city

dale borchiver + elizabeth endres

who better to kick off #summerbodseason than our two favorite fit chicks. best known from their highly curated and cheekily named instagram handle @sweatsandthecity, founders dale + elizabeth decided to leave careers in fashion + finance to pursue a sweatier path. they’re making it easy to navigate the sometimes overwhelming scene that is nyc fitness, serving up honest class reviews, serious outfit + lifestyle inspo & most importantly…..snack time Q+A! speaking of, grab a snack and read our Q+A with them below!

neither of you are native new yorkers. what brought you here and what did life look like before satc? 

dale: i originally came here for school, and later to work in fashion.
elizabeth: i moved to nyc for a job in finance at bloomberg. we were both dying to get to nyc before moving here!
 

we’ve all been there…midnight brainstorm sessions, waking up in the middle of the night with crazy ideas, thinking about and conceptualizing your new business 24/7…talk to us about that ‘aha!’ moment where you decided to start satc and how you originally envisioned the concept. 

the concept of satc was in the works for a long time without us necessarily knowing it! we found ourselves coming home at the end of most days and discussing the new studios & workouts we tried that day. we were searching for a platform that would give us the kind of ‘insider scoop’ studio details we were chatting about and couldn’t find anything. so, we decided to take matters into our own hands. we sat on the concept for about 8 months, putting together review lists (mostly for friends), before we decided to go live with it officially. it was really when we decided on a name that we we’re like “ok, this is really happening”. 

our signature question! – what’s the inspiration behind the name? 

as we’re sure you could probably tell, the name is a play on the show sex & the city. and as two 20-something year olds in nyc, we really felt it made perfect sense. 

how long did you keep satc as a side hustle before transitioning to full time? what was that transition like and do you have any advice for other “side hustlers” looking to take the leap and monetize a hobby or a side hustle? 

it took us about a year and a half doing until finally deciding to go full time with satc. when we reached the point where our full-time jobs were holding us back from opportunities, we knew it was time. it took a lot of preparation from a financial planning standpoint, and was definitely scary, but we’ve never looked back! our advice is to 1) keep your eye on the prize – we set a date we thought was feasible and we stuck to it and 2) plan well – look at your monthly income (growth & averages) & also your expenses, and plan accordingly! 

we know a little something about getting into business with your best friend! it’s funny because a lot of people warned us against it, but with our personalities it works perfectly and it’s clearly working for you! talk to us about how you navigate mixing business + friendship and any advice you have for two friends thinking of getting into business together? 

because we know each other so well, it’s a big plus that we always feel comfortable being open and honest, especially if we disagree on something. but, in working with your best friend, it’s also important to not take things personally and to look at the big picture. a big part of our job is being social and attending events, so it’s great to be able to do that together! 

how do you balance all the different roles of running a business between the two of you? 

at first, before we had established our unique roles, it was kind of chaotic! it’s honestly trial and error – once we were able to figure out what we should both be doing, as well as jobs that we each loved and wanted to manage on our own, things flowed really nicely. we keep a very thorough (and color coordinated, obvi) spreadsheet where our roles are clearly outlined. the jobs we add, remove & expand are ever changing, but it’s so important to have these listed out! 

talk to us about the workouts! do you guys work out every single day? if you had to pick a favorite from all your class reviews, what would it be? 

we definitely give our bodies rest days! recovery is super important. we aim to workout 4-5 days a week, but really depends on the week, our travel & schedules. our favorites are ever-changing, but right now we are obsessed with the sculpt class at dancebody. it’s the perfect combo of dancing & toning. 

let’s state the obvious….you’re both fit af. talk to us about the types of workouts you do and what you see the most results from? what makes a class really stand out to you vs. just an okay experience? 

that’s so nice of you – thank you!! we find a mix of light cardio and sculpting is the most effective for both of our bodies, but it truly varies for everyone. we went through a period a few years ago where we were doing a lot of really strenuous workouts, and not seeing the results we wanted (or feeling the way we wanted to, tbh), and that’s really what lead us to this. we are all about variety, though, and aren’t afraid to throw something intensive into the mix occasionally! 

a great studio experience really begins from the moment you book online til the moment you leave the studio. we appreciate when a studio goes the extra mile, which looks like: great amenities, welcoming staff, and a nice clean environment (& bonus points for having mints, haha). you want to leave the workout feeling great, not just physically, but mentally too. when it comes to instructors, an instructor that is not only super knowledgeable, but supportive, welcoming and encouraging is key. oh, and a killer playlist helps, too! 

 

in a world where everyone is trying to be an “influencer” and the rest of us can get exhausted by content, two things stand out to us about your brand. first, we both regularly watch all of your content and can’t say the same about many others. second, we’ve also seen your media kit so we know you deliver unusually high engagement and strong revenue generation for yourself + other brands you collaborate with. from your perspective, what makes you stand out to your audience? what specific actions have you taken to make it this way?

when we started satc, our goal was to be a relatable & trustworthy source when it came to fitness, wellness & health. there can be a lot of noise in the fitness space and most people don’t have the time and/or money to test out the insane amount of products and services available to them. we have made it our mission to showcase what we love (and don’t!) with all the raw, real details so our community can make informed decisions. and our hope is that people follow us & engage with us because of that! 

what started with class reviews has already evolved into so much more. what else can we expect from satc in the future? where do you see the brand in 1 year / 5 years? any pipe dreams for satc? 

we’ve already started to dabble in products collaborations with existing brands (check out our sweaty stuff bag here!), and we’d love to continue that. we’ve also been working hard to build out our website, particularly a project to create an interactive studio review map – launching soon! a long-term goal of ours has been to be ‘the infatuation’ of class reviews, so this new online offering should get us closer to that. stay tuned for more collaborations, city exploration, etc.! 

talk to us about your partnerships. what types of companies do you work with and why? how do you balance making a living with ensuring each brand gets dedicated, high quality content (which means time + energy on your part!) 

we’re very selective when it comes to the brands we align with. it’s so important to us that these companies share the same values as we do, and we have to believe in the product. for example, we often receive pitches for “quick fix” type detoxes and diets, which goes entirely against our brand … these are a definite ‘no’ from us. we also limit how many we work with, especially when it comes to certain categories (especially beauty!), in order to maintain our authenticity. our rates are reflective of all of this, as well as the time and energy we put into creating campaigns. 

you’ve worked with huge companies (victoria’s secret, bloomies, etc.) and start-ups, which are two totally different animals. do you approach them differently? 

our approach to all brands is the same, but their approaches can definitely vary, and it doesn’t necessarily have to do with their size. this was something that surprised us! some brands are highly involved in the content creation process, and some offer a lot of flexibility … we love when brands trust our creative direction, because no one knows our community better than we do! regardless, we always make sure that no matter which brand we’re working with, we’re presenting their product/service in our own voice, in a way that resonates with our community. 

as a brand, it can be tough to know what to expect with an influencer partnership! give us some partnership advice – what we should look for, how do you set your prices and demonstrate how a brand can trust the expected outcome? 

it’s important that both parties are very clear on the deliverables and that both parties see value in the partnership. we never promise specific results (you can’t know for sure how your community will react). we try our best to ensure that our prices reflect the effort we’re putting into our content creation, the demand at the time, as well as the value that content is bringing to a brand – whether that’s general awareness or conversions. we are big on numbers, too! we provide brand statistics & case studies prior to working with us so they can get a feel for what we bring to the table. 

you’re both working out and on social media a lot. when you’re not ‘on’, what are you doing? 

sweats has pretty much become our lives! even if we’re not active on social media, we’re doing a ton of work behind the scenes. but, when we’re not working, we’re both pretty social and love to recharge with self-care: reiki, meditation, reading, facials, going out to dinner with friends. 

with that said, your lives are very public through your platform. how do you deal with the negativity and unsolicited opinions? any advice for how to block out the haters (besides dark sunglasses obvi) 

we’ve gotten better at dealing with negativity with time, and it’s probably a combination of desensitization and growth. that’s not to say that a harsh message doesn’t ever upset us, but it’s a lot easier to let it go. we also have each other, and that helps a lot! when you put yourself out there, negativity unfortunately comes with the territory. we always like to remember this — what other people think of you is none of your business. 

 

favorite workout (boutique): ‘the sculpt society’ with megan roup, ‘hot pilates’ (in la), ‘sculpt’ at dancebody 

favorite workout (not boutique): barre3 

brand you’d love to work with: w hotels 
go-to beauty product: skii essence 
female founder you admire: oprah 
one meal for the rest of your life, what is it? avocado toast with two eggs, over hard 🙂 
nyc neighborhood: west village & soho 
if you were doing something other than satc, what would it be? this is a hard one! i did really like working in advertising – so possible something in that area. 
me-time / social media break activity / thing that keeps you sane: meditation therapy – i go weekly, it’s the best! 

sweats and the city - blankbox female founder feature the fill

favorite workout (boutique): bunda (la) or any dance-cardio-sculpt mix (“body” by amanda kloots, isaac boots “torchd”, “sculpt society” by megan roup, “sculpt” dancebody).

favorite workout (not boutique): barre, core power yoga 

brand you’d love to work with: equinox 
go-to beauty product: laura mercier tinted moisturizer 
female founder you admire: sara blakely 
one meal for the rest of your life, what is it? yogurt bowl, with granola, berries and almond butter! 
nyc neighborhood: noho 
if you were doing something other than satc, what would it be? most likely still be in fashion! 
me-time / social media break activity / thing that keeps you sane: walking with my headphones in, listening to a podcast or one of our sweats playlists!  

dale and elizabeth, thank you for keeping it real on the [sometimes crazy, sometimes expensive, sometimes culty, sometimes hard for the coordination-challenged, but always fun + healthy for us] scene that is NYC fitness! and for reminding us that while it’s usually a good idea to work out, it’s also okay to skip it and binge watch netflix on your couch and having yourself a SNACKTIME.  

*all product images, press images, and headshot images are property of sweats and the city 
**this is not a sponsored post. all obsessions are 100% real

june gift guide: the SATC 'summer essentials' gift box

summer months are perfect for getting sweaty [if you take the subway, you’re already sweaty anyways so might as well keep it going, right?! here are the summer essentials you need from our favorite sweat-perts. 

sweaty stuff sweats and the city - blankbox gift guide the fill

riley versa - sweaty stuff bag

satc partnered with riley versa to create the perfect pouch! a luxurious navy velvet pouch with "sweaty stuff" embroidered across the front. perfect to slip all your post gym or beach essentials in and guess what?! they just restocked in a new style! 

ice roller - blankbox gift guide the fill

esarora - ice roller

historically we've been fans of jade rollers, but after the SATC ladies told us about this ice roller we were quick to convert. it doubles the coolness of a jade roller and covers more ground. highly suggest for sunburns and sushi sodium hangovers. 

supergoop mineral matte sunscreen - blankbox gift guide the fill

supergoop - matte sunscreen

daily spf is the most underrated anti-aging trick in the book and the satc babes have beautiful skin. supergoop is non-greasy and blends perfectly into your skin. catherine uses their every single day moisturizer with 40 SPF… yup, every single day.   

slip silk mask - blankbox gift guide the fill

slip silk - pure silk sleep mask

if you peep our instagram you’ll also realize we are huge fans of this product as well. the slip sleep eye mask is a sure-safe way to reduce wrinkles while you sleep (any other face down sleepers reading this?).

all images are property of respective companies

now get off your butt and get to that workout class.

rebecca minkoff - female founder feature the fill

may: the fourth issue

may: the fourth issue

female founder feature: rebecca minkoff
founder of rebecca minkoff + the female founder collective

it’s officially may, and that means a few things: first and foremost, the opportunity to post the ‘it’s gonna be may’ meme. don’t pretend you’re above it. secondly, it means thanking your mom for not putting you up for adoption during your angsty teenage years. but really, we often wonder how moms do it all.  to our moms, our psuedo-moms, and all the new mamas and mamas-to-be in our lives, we love you. 

speaking of moms who do it all…we’re excited to introduce this month’s female founder feature rebecca minkoff, founder of rebecca minkoff + the female founder collective….and mama of 3.  

rebecca was 21 years old when she started her namesake brand + the rest, as they say, is herstory.

tell us the story of how you started your namesake brand. it’s one of our favorites! 

i started the company in 2001 when i was 21 years old. i had just launched a five-piece collection with this “i love new york” t-shirt that i had kind of cut up and bedazzled, because that was on trend then, believe it or not! i had sent it to an actress [and friend], jenna elfman, on september 9. she wore it on jay leno [just after 9/11]. and [she] said my name. that impacted me in a big way. everything shut down when 9/11 happened. so the only thing that really kept it going was that i was donating all the proceeds to the red cross. that kept the orders coming in. 

 

some years later, jenna called me again and asked if i wanted to do a bag for an upcoming film. i was happy to help, thinking, ‘why not? i’ll try a bag,’ and that was the moment that led to the ‘morning after bag’. i had made one for jenna and one for myself and even though it didn’t make it into the film, i planned to add it into the clothing line: as an accessory piece, nonetheless. i had no intention of designing handbags, but when daily candy wrote about it shortly thereafter, it took off. at that moment, ii transitioned to exclusively handbags, only offering the ‘morning after bag’ in different colorways. i kept the focus on the details (i.e. theme and story around each bag), using beautiful leathers and trims. at that time, the showroom i was with told me i had to offer more than one bag and that is where it all began. 

 

the ‘i love ny’ shirt signified the beginning of me taking that step towards being a designer with my own line. i had always loved working with patterns, constructing and draping garments, but this was the first moment i could actually start working towards creating pieces under my name. once the daily candy wrote about [the mab] it was the perfect storm. more orders than i could have ever imagined started coming in and that’s when i decided to really put my full focus on bags. 

 

who were your first 3 key hires? what impact did they have on your growth? 

sales, finance and production; everything was around staffing up with things that would take me off design or pr so we hired strong people in those backgrounds with extensive experience. we doubled for 3 years in a row and kept having year over year growth. 

 

as new founders, we talk a lot about “what keeps us up at night” relative to our brand. how has “what keeps you up at night” changed from when you first started to now? do the early challenges ever get better?! 

challenges never get better. they actually get harder and the issues more challenging and complicated. you just get used to thinking about and approaching them. what keeps me up now is how we’re going to become a global brand without relying on traditional media the way that huge luxury brands do. they have money and buying power and can dominate a new market far quicker. how do we as david, beat goliath. 

 

you started your business with your brother uri. what’s it like working with family and how do you divide the roles? more broadly, what advice do you have for new or soon to be founders when looking for a business partner? 

he’s ceo, i am creative director. we have and respect our lanes but also try and support and help each other within our areas if we can. we fight. we make up. we see a career coach. 

 

when you’re with someone more hours in the day than your spouse, you have to make sure you know it’s okay not to agree, how to get through it and do what’s best for the business. 

the first few times we met you in person, we realized you’re your own best brand ambassador. you’re always in head to toe rm. talk to us about why that’s important. 

it’s simple: why would my customer want my goods if i didn’t? i am the customer, so i live and breathe rm and show others how to as well.

 

who is the rebecca minkoff customer? how are you able to identify and interact with her?

she is a multi-faceted woman. she is complicated. she is busy. she wants rm to make her day easier but also more meaningful. she knows she belongs to a tribe where other women have her back.

 

what differs your brand from the others? 

we have evolved our value proposition outside of a product. our customer comes to us because she knows we support and care about women, that we put our money where our mouth is and that beyond a product there is good being given back to our communities.

 

we were shocked to find out you have 3 kids (and 1 under a year!) first off, how do you do it?! do you follow any specific guidelines to balance the two roles? 

yes. i’ve used the last 7 years of having kids to test my boundaries, so i know what is too much for me. i now structure my schedule around this as much as possible. each person should do that for their own values, not for instagram.

 

we heard you speak at theskimm live podcast event, where you mentioned that your #1 interview question for nannies is “how fast can you run off the playground carrying three kids” (lol). what tips do you have for new moms & working moms who may be hesitant to leave their children under the care of someone else? 

make sure you hire someone who has the same values as you, who is there to help take a load off of you and help the household. that is responsible and more importantly, has the purpose of nurturing and raising children. sadly, this nanny is going to spend more time with your kids than you during a work week so you want to know they have the children’s interests at heart. trust your gut.

 

everyone who’s ever had more than a 5 minute conversation with us knows how much we love ffc. where do you see ffc in 5 years and how has it changed from today? 

in 5 years, i hope to have conquered some of the bigger milestones such as the seal being used and known by consumers to change their shopping behaviors. i want a global community that is the go-to for female founded businesses for a directory. i want women who have joined to be vocal about how coming together made their companies soar and that we went from 80 cents on the dollar to 90 to 100….

 

as the founder of ffc, you see badass, successful women every day. what do you think are the top 3 things that make a brand successful? 

telling a story on social
customer service is king.
using a network to shortcut the problems others have already experienced.

 

the question the people have been waiting for….talk to us about elisabeth! you both have done an incredible amount of work in such a short time as a 2-woman team of #workwives. how do you balance the responsibilities of executing the now vs. strategizing the future? 

elisabeth is a godsend. she is an incredible leader. we’ve divided and conquered; her passion for the community and its growth has allowed me to be able to do larger partnerships and activations that make ffc more well known, which in turn helps more of our members as we highlight them and help their products become known and therefore sold. we really are a true team with no set lanes, so she really helps with it all! i couldn’t do this without her!

rebecca minkoff - blankbox female founder feature the fill

favorite piece in the rm collection: kate circle bag 

female founder who inspires you: jessica alba 

favorite me-time activity: sleep 

favorite nyc restaurant: in the dez 

go-to brands (other than rm): nike, rachel comey 

personal mantra / favorite quote: no is just the beginning of yes (in all areas except dating) 

introvert or extrovert: extrovert mostly 

fun fact about you that most people don’t know: i’m scared of zombies

we always talk about the “transformative yes” moments that have and will change the trajectory of our business. becoming part of the female founder collective was and will continue to be one of those. rebecca, we cannot thank you enough for being the inspiring soul you are – we adore you!   

*all product images, press images, and headshot images are property of rebecca minkoff 
**this is not a sponsored post. all obsessions are 100% real

behind the scenes with the woman, the myth, the legend: elisabeth leonard

elisabeth is the special projects manager for rebecca minkoff [a role she balances with that of #workwife] and the other half of the female founder collective! there’s a lot that happens behind the scenes of ffc, so we’re taking you #bts with the one who makes it all happen. but first, in true team blankbox fashion, a story…

we first applied to the female founder collective when it was completely new…and so were we. we emailed elisabeth saying we weren’t sure if we qualified to join as we had just launched, but to let us know what we had to do to be part of it. this was word for word her response: “don’t sell yourself short! you are FOUNDERS and there is power in that. big or small, a founder is a founder; and that’s something you should be proud of. we’re all in this together, we need to support each other in order to make a change! that being said, we’d love to have you be a part of the collective!” 

this is one of those moments we won’t ever forget. the first time someone included us at the table, and the last time we ever assumed we weren’t part of it. we love you, elisabeth! without further ado…

start from the beginning…from birth. only kidding. how did you meet rebecca and start working on the rebecca minkoff team? 

i actually started as a temp receptionist at the company! it was only meant to be a three-month situation, but that changed quickly! rebecca and i had an immediate connection, and from the first day i met her, i knew she was someone i wanted to learn from and work with. 

one of the very first things rebecca told me was that “no is just the beginning of yes”. since that day, it’s always stuck with me. after my first few months as the receptionist, i took on the role of being ea to the ceo, cfo, president and rm. being the receptionist taught me a lot of things that i’ve carried with me to where i am today. 

i took all of my earlier roles as an opportunity to learn as much as i could. when you’re starting out, you can’t be afraid to ask questions. do all the jobs—no matter how “small” they might seem; that is where you will learn incredible lessons that will serve you well later in your career. 

 

how would you describe her leadership style? from your perspective, what else do you think makes the brand so successful? 

one of the greatest things about rebecca is she leads with compassion and empowerment. she isn’t possessive of accomplishments. when you’re on a team, everyone is in it together. rebecca always celebrates wins as a team, never as one person. rebecca is also a great listener. there’s a difference between leadership and being a boss. leaders show you what to do and bosses tell you what to do. and rebecca is always showing, teaching and helping others to learn more. 

one of the most important lessons rebecca has ever taught me is “no is just the beginning of yes”. don’t give up. don’t be afraid to ask questions. keep striving for what you’re passionate about! 

 

what’s your favorite personal mantra and how has it helped shape your life? 

don’t stop until you’re proud!– if you knew today was your last day, would you be happy with what you’re doing? if the answer is no, then change it. do what makes you happy. and live each day without denying your happiness. so, dream big, go after your dreams, do the things you want to do and be the person you want to be. 

get out there and show the world what you’re made of. there is no right or wrong way to exist. being human is messy. find glory in your own beautiful mess + be proud of who you are. 

 

let’s talk female founder collective! how did the idea come about and what’s your role within the team? 

the idea for the ffc came out of a meeting that rebecca was in where she was trying to work with only female founded companies and realized there was no way to find them easily. she then came across a study by berlin cameron that said the 82% of women are more likely to support female founded companies if they only knew how. that proved to rebecca that a symbol or a seal for consumers to recognize would be key for us to find ways to support and give our money to female founders. 

i focus a lot on community + brand partnerships as well as the growth of the community, but i love to help with anything and everything i can! i’m so lucky that i get to work alongside one of the most badass female entrepreneurs i know who also doubles as my work wife, rebecca minkoff!

 

as the co-leader of ffc, you see badass, successful women every day. what do you think makes a brand successful and can you share some “best practices” you’ve seen from ffc brands? 

success can be defined in so many ways. i think it’s important to remain humble and hardworking, be confident and believe in what you’re doing. if you don’t, who else will? you can never get comfortable in your own knowledge; it’s important to learn every day. and there is always more work to be done! 

one of the greatest practices that i have watched our members display is the power of collaboration. the amount of support these women provide for one another is truly admirable.  

rebecca shared where she sees ffc in 5 years – tell us where you see it going + how it’s changed from today? 

i agree with rebecca. we really hope to have conquered bigger milestones, such as the seal being used and known by consumers to change consumer shopping behavior. the ffc seal lets everyone know that a woman is in charge! i hope that the collective will continue to grow, not only in the us, but globally, and that this community encourages not only women, but everyone, to buy and support women owned businesses. 

 

i hope we see a big consumer adoption and acceptance of the ffc symbol that changes their buying decisions. 

 

how do you balance having roles at rebecca minkoff and at ffc? how do these roles differ? 

“the most urgent decisions are rarely the most important ones.” – dwight d. eisenhower 

 

a few months ago, i read an article about eisenhower’s urgent/important matrix. the basic premise is pretty simple: some tasks are urgent, and others are not. when you organize those, you make better use of your time. 

 

while it may not always feel like it, i’ve learned that there is a big difference between urgent and important. this way of thinking helped me learned how to separate the things that absolutely need to get done from the things that i really want to get done. this concept has played a huge role in how i balance my two roles. 

 

my role at ffc is more of a managerial role while at rm, i am part of a larger team. i have the best of both worlds! 

 

what’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned from a female founder you’ve met through ffc? any advice you’d give to women thinking to start their own business? 

 

the women of ffc in general have shown me firsthand the power of collaboration over competition; advice: take every opportunity and make the best of it. you never know where it may lead!  

favorite piece in the rm collection: bree belt bag 

female founder who inspires you: jen gotch 

favorite me-time activity: binge watching greys anatomy with a nice glass of wine and tons of candles! 

favorite nyc restaurant: rubirosa (best damn pizza!) 

go-to brands (other than rm): alala, terez, nike, lively, eberjey 

introvert or extrovert: extrovert, most of the time! 

fun fact about you that most people don’t know: i currently live and work remotely from santiago, chile!    

may gift guide: the 'mother's day' gift box

as if we needed another mama to be grateful for….the founders of these products aren’t just raising kids. they’re also building the brands we know + love, and making our mother’s day gifting a little easier along the way. if your mom is anything like ours, she hasn’t sat down since 1999. these founded-by-mamas gifts will upgrade her on the go!

meant simply whole shower kit - blankbox gift guide the fill

meant - whole shower kit

"marie kondo your entire shower and morning routine with time-saving, short-cutting, ass-kicking products" need we say more? this line is founded by a mom who really knows what she's doing when it comes to gifting for busy mamas + their sacred shower alone time.

rebecca minkoff aceline mules in black - blankbox gift guide the fill

rebecca minkoff - aceline mules in black

we're all about elevated basics that stay comfortable while we run around the city getting sh*t done. if your mom is anything like ours, she hasn't sat down since 1999. might as well give her a stylish shoe that can be worn day to night, to work or to play. can we found in gabi's mom's closet... and hers, because #treatyourself.

stephanie gottlieb - blankbox gift guide the fill

stephanie gottlieb - mini initial bracelet

they say diamonds are a girl's best friend but we think gold jewelry is pretty high up there too. we love SG because its a mix of timeless pieces + quality you know will last. also highly suggested as a push gift. shop her mother's day sale...your mom deserves it for dealing with you.

stasher bag - blankbox gift guide the fill

stasher bag - reusable silicone bags

there are a lot of things to say about stasher bags, but we'll lead with this: they keep your avocado green. we repeat, keep your avocado green. also perfect for packing portions, whether it's a pack carrots + smoothie ingredients kind of day or a 'how many cookies can I stuff in one bag' kind of day.

all images are property of respective companies

drake said it best: i only love my bed + my momma, i'm sorry. 

jackie courtney - female founder feature the fill

april: the third issue

april: the third issue

female founder spotlight: jackie courtney, founder & ceo nearly newlywed

it’s officially the start of wedding season, and you know what that means!!! crying ugly tears while your best friend walks down the aisle, bridesmaid proposals [with blankbox, duh] and spending at least a month’s worth of rent on flowers. most of all, it means gaining a new appreciation for the people in the wedding industry who live to make it easier. jackie courtney, founder + ceo of nearly newlywed, is that person. from shark tank to having her company nicknamed ‘the amazon of weddings’, jackie’s story is extra sparkly… and so is her style.

for our readers who aren’t familiar with your business… what is nearly newlywed + why are you different from the rest of the bridal industry? 


first & foremost because we were founded on the premise that resale should be embraced and destigmatized; not that it is for everyone, but if someone wants to pass their dress along or wear something worn one time by someone else (by the way like almost all movie premiere and oscars gowns) then it is their choice and it should still be an amazing experience. second nearly newlywed is a digital company, so we endeavor to create products and tools around digital discovery, service and commerce. as we have evolved to be a larger destination and marketplace, we both want to help customers transact and have access online as well as help physical retailers have an online presence and to ultimately help smooth out some of the pain points that exist for wedding stores and designers that are very unique to the process. 


so, basically, women can buy and resell their dress, jewelry, accessories, everything for their wedding and designers/stores can sell and market on our platform as long as they adhere to our quality, transparency and sustainability standards. 


you pitched your initial business idea on shark tank in 2012. we have so many questions – why did you decide to go on? 


oh geez, shark tank, taking me back.  well, i never intended to do something like that to be honest, the opportunity presented itself to us and we had literally just launched the business with 50 wedding dresses in my bedroom. at the time we took it as something the universe was presenting and decided to go for it (also free trip to la! haha). it was all kind of crazy and happened very fast, we taped our episode two months after we launched, so we were a super baby business at the time. 


you declined the offer from the sharks, why? how do you feel about it looking back? what’re the sharks like irl? 


it wasn’t a good offer! so no regrets there. the feedback was helpful and some of it i really disagreed with, so honestly it spurred me to fight on without the high profile capital (and we raised a substantial angel round at a good valuation 6 months later). 


i am very glad we did it though, and thankful for the opportunity. it allowed us to put the idea and brand on a platform of millions of people and that accelerated our growth in a way i couldn’t have dreamed. i was also very lucky to have thousands of women reach out to me in support and to help me really push forward a grassroots marketing effort to spread the word. the sustainability approach to creating more value and choice in the wedding space and trying to remove stigmas that are often placed on it, especially on women, around the dress and what that is supposed to look and feel like, i think resonated with a lot of women across generations and many we would never have reached, certainly not so quickly, without the shark tank platform. 


the sharks were pretty great. mark cuban was my favorite, i felt like we were really having an authentic exchange about business mechanics and ideas. i mean, it’s a tv show, it’s tv, but it’s all taped live in one session so there are authentic exchanges. in general i liked mark and barbara the best. i suppose if i am being honest, didn’t live for herjkovic. 


editor’s note: follow up question. was mr. wonderful actually wonderful?! 

fast-forward to now, you’ve grown to more than 1 million brides per year (!!!). first off, congratulations! secondly, aside from blood, sweat, tears & sleepless nights, what do you attribute this growth to? 


you hear it time and again, but creating a base of customers that believe in your mission and empowering them to be brand advocates is key. especially in bridal, in which the consumer turns over and isn’t a lifetime one, having people that believe in your mission is priceless. lots of grit. plenty of tears. time, lots of time and waiting and inching the rock forward. some luck too i think. but yea, most of the real progress is the boring stuff, the sweat and such, the day in and day out. shark tank and a few key new york times features didn’t hurt either. and women like you ladies! supporting and sharing! 


let’s rewind a little bit…you have a design & management degree from parsons the new school and worked for numerous luxury brands before launching nearly newlywed. what was the hardest part about starting something on your own? 


i often say the hardest part of starting was, starting. like, i didn’t see myself as an entrepreneur or set out on that path in a traditional sense, so i had a lot of insecurities, imposter syndromes and just, straight up fear about telling people and self identifying as a business founder. i remember someone asking me that i wasn’t super close with after i had left my job about what i was working on, and i got very anxious, skittish, and she thought i was being guarded about my ‘idea’ as if i would be afraid she would steal it. which certainly i wasn’t and if, as most say if, anything is true in business it is that the ‘idea’ and the mythology of the idea is rarely where a successful business comes from. it is a part of it, but it’s execution and timing more than anything. and grit. anyway, telling her and owning that i was going to try to start a business, just saying it out loud, that was the hardest. and leaving a really sexy job in fashion was hard too. that was a very large part of my identity and understanding who i was without that, without the big company and big names to lean up against, was very difficult to push past. i mean, my boss said to me ‘you know most women would kill for this job’ when i resigned, and i mean, she was sort of right, so walking away to start something so unknown was very difficult, because i really didn’t know what i was doing. 


and then, not quitting when things were flat and hard and just, felt sort of like cross-country skiing in quick sand, that’s the other hard part. because shiny things sustain you, milestones anchor you…. but gritting your teeth and getting up and trying day after day, that’s where & how success blooms, in my opinion. man, can i reference the word grit anymore? grit grit grit grit grit, i still need more of it, so i suppose i can’t really say it enough. grit! 😉 


did you have an “aha!” moment that made you start nearly newlywed? 

oh and no aha! moment, ha, really just that i felt the bridal industry was innovating very slowly, much slower than luxury fashion which i had thought prior to getting engaged was behind all other industries (which it was) but then i realized bridal was even further behind, so i figured innovation had to happen at some point and i saw some real problems around value and transparency and sustainability – so i decided why not and went for it.

talk to us about storefront! what was your thought process behind creating this and how can other founders apply that thinking to their own brands? 

 

i saw that the wedding market was ready for more commerce and discovery online. the customers had been for awhile, i was one of them, but the industry took a longer time to evolve, so i was really waiting for the moment in which i thought there was enough need and appetite on the b2b side to coincide with the already existing demand of the customers (brides). 

there is a lot of chatter about disruption in spaces, and i don’t necessarily see nearly newlywed and our role in weddings as that. it is, in a way, disruptive, but ultimately there are incredible designers and stores in the wedding space and outside of it that want to sell and market to wedding customers. some are very anti-change and sustainability but many, many are open and want to innovate and adapt. i don’t want to disrupt the industry, i want to support and offer the customer what she wants – choice, value, amazing products and i want to help those in the industry that are open to market to the changing landscape and customer, to help fit the pieces together, offer them a digital voice and expertise and hopefully, create prosperity and value for everyone in the process. 

 

you see one million brides a year – i repeat, one million. what is your strategy to make sure you stay engaged with an audience of this size? 

 

i think scale is a tough thing. not scaling fast enough makes you feel like a snail and scaling fast is hard to keep up with. we did a good job of taking it slow, a million is big but seven years is also longoooo. but that is still a challenge. it is very hard for me that i can’t help every customer, talk to every designer, write every message to someone that messages us on social. i try, because that is part of our dna, but it’s a challenge. the biggest thing we do is keep things in house. we don’t outsource customer service, social, any of it. so everyone is part of the nearly newlywed team and brand full-time, [they] believe in it and are just as much a part of building it as i am. so even though, they aren’t me or maybe weren’t here from day 1, they are a part of the nearly newlywed team now and i think you can feel that when you interact with our brand and experience. 

 

best advice to brides or funny bridezilla story? 

 

if you find a dress you love, especially if you buy it, stop looking at dresses. amazingly and also frustratingly the world is full of incredible, amazing, gorgeous things and gowns. the architect of the idea that there is one dress and one look for every bride was a marketer, trying to close a sale. you will see something else that piques your interest and it will only upset your satisfaction with your current dress. that really goes for most things. look, be selective, and by all means, wear two dresses! three! five! but once you decide move away from inspiration boards and browsing to something else so you don’t unnecessarily wage war on yourself with fomo which you just don’t need. 

 

you’re a business owner and a mom…how f*ck do you do it? 

 

ask me tomorrow? haha. honestly, women are incredible. all of them. every single one. we make time and space for things and fight battles that inspire me all the time. motherhood is just another facet to that and it has made me much more measured about my time and forced me to get better at saying no. and i suppose also more bold. not sure if it is because i am constantly tired? or because i want to set an example to my son and think, well shit, if i am not going to be the person i want and set out to be now, then when will i? that definitely helps curb the moments when i want to throw myself out a window. 

i am also very thankful for some of the female founders and networks i have been a part of and many of which are for mothers or are mothers. heymamaco in particular is a great resource and connector for women that are mothers and in business. 

 

now for our signature question… inspiration behind the name? 

 

ah. well, we wanted a play on the idea of new vs used. newlywed was a term i always loved and thought it transcended just the wedding day idea because it speaks to the idea of fresh, fun, happy love. that honeymooning period (which we need to extend and keep reigniting rather than demarcate to the first year, but i digress) but the idea of a newlywed or someone on that path felt fun and light and lovely. and someone that was nearly there was on that journey to lifetime commitment and love. and then the play on nearly new was there, as we started with only used dresses that were ‘nearly new’ and we marketed to ‘nearlyweds’ and ‘newlyweds’ – also so many urls were taken, so we were like, ok it’s a mouthful but we like it.

in other words, jackie is just your average new yorker who turned down the most famous investors in the world, has disrupted the bridal industry to grow to over 1 million brides per year, and simultaneously raised another baby….all while maintaining killer style, confidence + the sparkliest personality you will ever meet. jackie, thank you for being you!

*all product images, press images, and headshot images are property of nearly newlywed
**this is not a sponsored post. all obsessions are 100% real

something oops: bridal mistakes to avoid from the experts

blanksbox bridesmaid proposal

beauty

"most brides think going last will make their look stay the most fresh, but the bride should really be one of the first clients. if things run behind, then the last people getting serviced are rushed. the bride should have her hair set in the morning and have services when it's calm before vendors arrive and then touch ups at the end." - brittany lo, founder of beautini

blankbox bridesmaid proposal

planning

"plan the wedding you can afford now, not the one you hope to be able to afford in 2 years. make hard decisions early on and it will pay off in the long run; few things are worse than investing time, money, resources + relationships into planning the big day, only to be left with years of much needed repair to your bank account + relationship." - jennifer brisman, founder of vow

blankbox bridesmaid proposal

being the bride

"don't number your guest tables; label them instead with things like countries you've visited, types of dogs, or sports teams. that way people won't feel like they're at the last table." another pro tip: "don't let your dog anywhere near your wedding cake or he will eat the top tier. true story!" -kayla binford, blankbox bride m. 2018

april gift guide: the 'pop of color' gift box

whether you’re celebrating easter or a far more devout holiday like national pretzel day (or if you’re catherine, winston churchill day), gift baskets are out + gift boxes are in! speaking of in, the arrival of spring means color is making a comeback for everything but gabi’s wardrobe, so we’re giving you the pop of color life essentials to #fillintheblankbox that you didn’t know you needed…until now.

modern picnic luncher - blankbox gift guide the fill

'the luncher' by modern picnic

if bringing lunch to work more often isn't a 2019 goal of yours...did you even new years resolution, bro? if you're like us, you've been wanting to do this since your first day in the real world, but this vegan leather, insulated lunchbox that doubles as a chic bag actually makes us want to.

larq bottle - blankbox gift guide the fill

'the self-cleaning water bottle' by larq

are you a 27 year old young professional who nicknames her water bottle? okay good, us too! "larquie" cleans itself with a built in uv-c light system that kills bacteria with the push of a button. best part? add someone's name (or your own) with their personalization option!

byrobinblair - blankbox gift guide the fill

'the candy dish' by robyn blair

guilt free candy? we are here for that. pick your favorite treat, and robyn will turn it into the sweetest candy dish [pun 100% intended]. this art-meets-function piece is the perfect coffee table centerpiece or just something to stare at longingly as you forcibly swallow your kale.

fatty sundays - blankbox gift guide the fill

'the pretzel library' by fatty sundays

cracking open a new book is great, but have you ever cracked open a box of your favorite flavor + colorful sprinkles? if not, april 26th is national pretzel day...and we all know someone who celebrates every single made up national food holiday.

all images are property of respective companies

the pop of color life essentials for blankbox ss19 #fillintheblankbox