Subscription Box Basics

Behind the Scenes with Erica of the Empowering LEOW box

October 02, 2023 Episode 182
Subscription Box Basics
Behind the Scenes with Erica of the Empowering LEOW box
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Highlighting Erica, the ingenious founder of Empowering Leo Coaching, we delve into the riveting narrative of her entrepreneurial journey. This episode takes you on a cathartic journey as Erica, a police officer's wife, beautifully intertwines her personal experiences with her mission to ease solo parenting challenges often faced by police wives through her future monthly subscription box. 

Get ready to be captivated as Erica candidly unearths her process, revealing how she had to revise her original box idea which was not gaining the momentum she envisioned. Venturing further, we tap into the profound discussions between Erica and me, exploring ways she could harness existing events and local enterprises to promote her subscription box. 

Here's a promise - you'll be amazed as we brainstorm the possibilities of collaborating with event organizers to materialize her ideas and discuss how she could serve the police wives community through speaking engagements and local support ventures. Erica’s unwavering dedication to her community is inspiring, highlighting her commitment to devise solutions and foster connections.

As we near the end, the conversation takes a tactical turn, emphasizing the significance of meticulous planning and setting realistic expectations when launching a subscription box venture. Erica’s invaluable insights on pacing the process, the importance of a pre-launch runway and harnessing giveaways to drive enthusiasm will surely ignite the entrepreneur in you. Be all ears as we discuss the vitality of building an email list, employing lead magnets, and how Erica’s affinity for gift giving aids her business. Get ready to join us on this enlightening journey with Erica as she navigates the exhilarating world of subscription boxes.

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Speaker 1:

So you want to launch a subscription box and don't know where to start? Girl, you are in the right place. I'm Julie Ball and I'm Renee Gonzalez, your host here at Subscription Box Basics, a podcast for new and aspiring subscription box entrepreneurs wanting to avoid overwhelm. So grab a coffee, some pen and paper and let's have some fun. Hey everybody, welcome back to Subscription Box Basics. I'm a very special guest today. She is one of our subscription box bootcamp students and she's actually in pre-launch. So this is such an exciting time for her and we wanted to talk to her, pull back the curtain a little bit and see what it's really like during pre-launch, and so she's going to tell you her story today. Welcome, erica, to the podcast.

Speaker 2:

Thank you so much for having me. I feel like this is a full circle moment, because I just remember listening to one of the episodes that you did on Amy Porterfield's podcast, and so I didn't think I'd ever be here talking to somebody else who was also on another podcast.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, you're here. She is the founder of Empowering Leo Coaching and she is adding a box to this business. She's adding a monthly subscription box, so let's start talking about, like, let's just hear your story first, erica. Tell everyone a little bit about yourself and your background.

Speaker 2:

So I am a full-time mom of two, a wife of a police officer, which is where the Leo comes in, so it stands for law enforcement officer and then the W is kind of silent, but it's wife. I'm a full-time teacher. I teach foreign language and in the summer and the fall I coach girls cross-country for the school that I teach in. I also run, in the name of my company, wellness communities for both men and women who have specific health goals, fitness goals, nutrition, just wellness all together. Like I said, my husband is a police officer and we've been married for about 10 and a half years.

Speaker 1:

Nice, ok. So one of the things that I love about what you're doing is we talk a lot about in subscription box, boot camp and on this podcast about niching down, and so you have this you teach wellness, you, you nurture wellness communities, but you've niched down to kind of your sweet spot to serve police wives, police girlfriends, and so how is your tell us about this upcoming box and how it's going to do that?

Speaker 2:

So originally, when I started coming up with the idea for the box, I was driving to our cross-country state meet and I was like I said binging Amy Porterfield, and your episode came on and I just like had this like moment and I was like I should really add, this would be really good.

Speaker 2:

It was all about like I think the title of it was how to Sweeten the Deal with the subscription box. And so I got to my hotel room that night and I started like researching and writing down ideas and hopping into those Facebook groups and thinking of questions that I could ask and trying to find out like, what is that problem? So, as I nudge down and I was like, well, who am I? What have I been through? What are the problems I have? How did I solve my own problem? And then that's just where I was like wait a second, I'm a police wife, I do all these things and this is my problem. And wait, I've already solved that problem. And so I was able to incorporate it both as a box idea but also to nudge down in my wellness community.

Speaker 1:

Nice, ok, so let's talk a little bit about that problem because in my mind I'm thinking it's probably that you put yourself last If you have a law enforcement as a person, as a spouse. My brother is a volunteer firefighter and I know and growing up we he was a volunteer firefighter as well in high school and college, and I remember us as a family would be on pins and needles as he would go out for different shifts or calls or whatever, and I know it really impacted my parents and myself as well, but for me I was younger so I didn't understand it completely. So am I kind of getting down to the problem where there's a lot of unmet needs? Probably, as the spouse, there's probably a lot of fear involved. So tell us about what that pain point is specifically and then how you solve it, not only with your coaching, but with your intentions of this future subscription box.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, so, the sort of problem would be that you are solo parenting. You are a phone by yourself a lot. You kids have multiple places to be, you are always last. Your house might be a disaster Just because you're not there. There's like when you are there, you're trying to mom and you're trying to cook and you're also trying to.

Speaker 2:

You're just doing all of these things, yeah, and like there may be times where my husband's working 12 hour shifts three days in a row and he's on an overnight shift we may be lucky to see him two hours if that in a day, and so you're just solo parenting a lot. So you're overwhelmed, yeah, and you really don't, almost don't even have time to think about how to fix the problem because you're so far deep in the problem. And so originally, when I was thinking of the box, I was like, well, it's nice to have a guilty pleasure, so I'll put something in there that's like sweet treat, whatever, and also it's like hard to keep your house clean, so I'll like throw in something like toilet tabs, like where can just toss them in and go Hacks Like making things easier.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, yeah, I'll just hold hacks, love it.

Speaker 2:

Yes, exactly, I was really organized, so I purchased like a couple of different ideas so that I could use them on myself to see, like how they were. So then when I put it all together and I was pitching it out for market research, it was not picking up any steam at all. And I also have, separately, I have courses that I teach as well. So I have some free courses, some paid courses and things that are not really tangible but that you could mix together and like, okay, well, I learned this and I can use this from my box.

Speaker 2:

But, like I said, the idea that I had pitched out there and there were a couple of months where I was like this is April and this is May and it was crickets, and I was like what am I doing wrong? And so I just like paused and that's kind of where I'm at now. I paused because if it's not serving them or solving their problem, then I had to start over and figure out what is going to solve the problem. And so that's where I'm at right now and that's why I paused. And, under construction, I'm building the community a little more so I can have more of an audience and a bigger email list so that I can really try and not necessarily niche down anymore, but just like how can I solve, how can I really solve your problem?

Speaker 1:

That's so smart to just take a pause and get some feedback from people. Building that community is going to be really big, because I imagine that will be a component of this future box. Is that accurate?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, that's right. So there's a couple of different options. So if you just want the box, you could just have the box. If you want to be part of the wellness community, where I really serve to a police wife, and even if you're not a police wife, you still can benefit from the group, sure, but because it's from my expertise says then I'm going to coach you in that way, I'm going to teach you those hacks we're going to go through together. We're going to look at your to do list, we're going to look at what your struggles with your house or your laundry or whatever it is, and I'm going to coach you through how to organize those things. And if you want the box, cool, you can have the box too.

Speaker 1:

That's great because I remember when I first started Sparkle Hustle Grow, I thought that it was people were going to buy and stick around because they loved all the good stuff that I put in the box. Well, as I was continuing to grow the community and the customer base, I started doing surveys. I started asking them questions to get that very valuable feedback Okay, what's working, what's not and people always told me they joined for the stuff, but they stuck around for the community because it was so needed. They didn't feel alone anymore in their life circumstances, as being an entrepreneur can be lonely.

Speaker 1:

You kind of feel like you're on an island sometimes, and I imagine that you could probably say the same thing about being a Leo and finding that community can literally be a life raft for some people in their life circumstances.

Speaker 1:

So I think that's going to be really key for you is finding that and building a community that they feel safe in, they feel supported in, but also reaching out to communities. So, as I'm thinking through, this is almost kind of shifting into like a coaching session, right? So if you are listening and you are a law enforcement spouse or have someone in your family, you need to DM us and we'll make sure Erica gets in touch with you and let us know where do they spend their time, what type of communities are out there that Erica could connect with and serve with her coaching and with her future subscription box? So I think that's going to be one of those key things Erica is finding, where they hang out and naturally being around them, and I would think that there's probably some in real life events that you could build some serious relationships with not only the people, but the organizers with as well.

Speaker 2:

Yes, definitely, and I would also like to be an organizer of one of those groups and have an event.

Speaker 1:

What if there was, like a police conference, that you reached out to the organizers and talk to them about creating like a lounge for the wives to connect at the conference? So, for example, I went to a business event in Nashville in May and Kenny, my husband, and McKenna, our daughter, came with me during the event because they just wanted to check out Nashville. They're like hey, you're going already, you're driving, let's all, let's make this a family trip. While I was at the event, they went to the Nashville Zoo and they went and did all kinds of things together, which was really fun. I wonder if many police wives go on these business trips to these police conferences with their husbands and just go because it's an opportunity to travel and you might be able to reach out to those conference organizers and say I would love to connect with other police wives. Would you be able to provide an area that we could all hang out together, where I could create a meetup and maybe that's just going there and connecting with each other and socializing. You could take a box and get their feedback on it Say hey, as we're talking, I'm in the process of starting the subscription box to serve people just like you. Would you guys give me some feedback on this. What would you like to see in there? What types of products would you love to receive in the mail as kind of a guilty pleasure or like gift to yourself to help you with that police wife life? Like, maybe piggybacking off of something that already exists. Like, if they're at the conference, tell them bring your wives and we'll hang out. Yeah, that's really smart. It could work. This is a funny story.

Speaker 1:

So back in 2019, we hosted a retreat in Cancun for Sparkle Hustle Grows subscribers. We had about I think we had about 35 people go. It was an international retreat and we encouraged them to bring their spouses, and so I think we had about seven spouses come with and it was an all-inclusive resort so the guys could go to wherever they wanted to whenever we ladies were at the conference, at the retreat, doing presentations and working on our business. So my husband was in charge and we called their little group Sparkle Hustle Grow oh, that's so funny Instead of Sparkle Hustle Grow, and he just basically looked at what's already happening at their resort. Let's go do this as a group. And so they went and did tequila tasting. They went and did. I think that they did some sort of archery class and then they went and hung out at the pool. So their little subset, their Sparkle Hustle Grow group, went along and did their own thing while us ladies were at our retreat.

Speaker 1:

So I can envision something like that at some sort of police conference. So you'd have to do the research, see what already exists out there and then do some outreach to the organizers and let them know. I have an idea that I think can bring value to the people who will be attending your event. Yeah, that's really smart. Maybe even the event organizers could send an email out to their list to promote it, to encourage those women, those police wives, to come to the event. So I feel like that's the really low hanging fruit when it comes to organizing events is just piggybacking off of something else. Now, if they can't provide you with a room at the event, wherever it is, it's probably close to a hotel and you could say meet in the hotel lobby, or maybe there's a little restaurant nearby that you could get a reservation for and have something to give them. Maybe it's a Leo sticker to walk away with and then use that as feedback when you have your box ready. That could be an opportunity where you're actually promoting your box.

Speaker 1:

But I wouldn't go heavy. I would go first step forward, would be serving them and networking with them, creating community with them and then, as you're building that relationship, most definitely share that you're creating this subscription box and that you have your coaching. So I think it's a natural fit and would bring a lot of value to an already existing event. Yes, that would be fun too. You'd get to meet a lot of people and, at the event, take the time to walk around and meet any vendors that are set up there, hand out your business card or some sort of insert that you would maybe put in the box. There's so many ways to connect with people in person like that. I love that's. One of my favorite ways is to do that in person. Yeah, that's a good stuff.

Speaker 2:

I've been connecting and networking with a lot of people, but they're not local and so we've been able to. So I run a free Facebook group for law enforcement wives and in July, august and September I have some people slated to be speakers in my groups just to reach out and just some added community and support for them, people who aren't necessarily police wives but who maybe they're police daughters and they offer a really interesting perspective. Or I have someone who I'm working with now to schedule who is not a police wife but she is a retired police officer and she works with mental health training with officers and so she can help wives understand from a woman's point of view kind of what their husband is dealing with, so that when they come home they can understand them better and receive them better.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, oh, I can see how important that would be. So you'll have to tell me what it's like being a police wife. Do you have a local I don't want to say club, but a local group of ladies that get together that support each other? Are you able to reach out to police stations and be a part of their future events? And the reason I ask this is because, with my brother being a firefighter, they do a lot of fundraising because he works for a volunteer fire station and so they have to do fundraising so they get involved in a lot of community events. So whether they're hosting them or whether they're being a part of them, and a lot of times they'll do meals, boxed meals or takeout meals, where you buy a ticket, you get a meal. So there's all these things that they're doing as part of the community. So, locally, do you have those opportunities? And then, what is the largest big city near you that you might be able to kind of plug into those communities?

Speaker 2:

So I don't have a lot of that. In the communities that I'm in or near we don't. I think that I went to a trivia night a few years ago for a very small town just like a few miles away. They needed a new police cruiser, so the trivia was to get them a new police cruiser or the funds for that. And there is every year there's, I think, a police officer day in September, and so in the past I have tried to put together some things. The fall time is really tricky for me just because that's been. Cross country is, but there's not. There isn't a lot. Honestly, I live just outside of St Louis, missouri, and so there just isn't an opportunity for that. I could create an opportunity for it.

Speaker 1:

I was just going to say that, yeah, maybe there's a local restaurant that you could partner with, so it's not all on your shoulders to put the whole thing together. Restaurants are so used to serving large groups or hosting things, so that might be an opportunity. And, honestly, if you're not far from a big city and it sounds like you're pretty close, maybe there's an opportunity there to partner up with some of the larger organizations versus just in your small town or your suburb or wherever you're living. But yeah, I think if you can find ways to serve them, it's such a win-win because you're showing up for them in the same almost in the same manner as what you would be in your virtual community right, but you're in real life and you're building those relationships with the people in charge. So I think that's definitely something that I would take a look at. I understand the fall is tough because you have other obligations. Yeah, I love the idea of a specific day built around Is it? Did you say it was for police officers or for? Yeah?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, so it's called Bank of Police Officer Day and I want to say it's like September, maybe 16th or something, but in the past, like I've, and it gets a little expensive if you're doing it on your own. I would just do it, for my husband's department is relatively small, so I would, we would make.

Speaker 2:

I got cookie cutters that were like police cars and badges and so we made cookies and decorated them through and like made creaded snack bags with like granola bars and waters, and they always need pens and pads of paper. So we threw those in and I was actually thinking that I would do like an Amazon wish list and just blast it out on social media and then that way the financial stuff wouldn't necessarily be on me and people could be a part of it and it would be like community wide?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, definitely, and it can get expensive to do that stuff on your own. So I think that's why partnering up with some local businesses would definitely be valuable, because they might be able to donate some of that stuff as well. Yeah, so let's talk about your launch. Do you have a launch date yet, or is it still in kind of limbo? It's?

Speaker 2:

in limbo. I've been working with somebody who's helping me with and I can I name dropped and I just named her Absolutely. Her name is Nicole Leclerc and she's been helping me with my website and she actually is a former box owner as well, and so she's like helping me on the back end with things as I'm on basically a zero dollar budget, and so she's she's working with me to like find this is free and this is free and let's help. She's kind of helping me build my list and working with me with my lead magnet. But we've discussed maybe making it quarterly, just a little more, I think, sustainable for me, especially because fall can be so busy, and we're hoping maybe in October, because that's usually right around the time that cross country is over, I think, so I can like shift my energy to that by then. Yeah, I'm hoping. Yeah, I'm hoping by October.

Speaker 1:

Well, I would recommend and I would encourage you to pick a date as soon as you can in October, because then you and Nicole can back into specific milestones and create that pre launch runway so that police think a police officer day is right before you know the month before your anticipating launch, and I think that could be a really big way to drum up some excitement. Maybe you do create that giveaway and you find some people to donate to the giveaway and maybe you create some really great basket that you can that someone can win as a police officer wife, so I love that idea. I really think I'm just going to encourage you to go ahead and pick a date.

Speaker 1:

So often as humans and as entrepreneurs, we work better with the deadline. When it's just kind of floating out there. Then we have no real reason, no motivation to actually start moving towards that goal. So that's one thing I want to encourage you to do is go ahead and pick that date and when you do, share it with us, share it with boot camp. We'll be happy to update the show notes and cheer you on.

Speaker 2:

So yeah, that's a good idea.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, and what can we do to help you with launch right now, like, is there something that you feel stuck? I know you talked about growing your list. That's so important and I think you're doing that with you. You sound like you have a lead magnet, and then you have your Facebook community as well, which is considered leads in my eyes.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, so so in terms of like list building and lead magnets, I do have. So I have in the link in my bio. I have lots of different freebies To get on my email list. You get my freebies. I run a challenge each month which is about it's called confidence and connections. So you become confident in the tests that I have. You do every day and I go live and I talk about nutrition and your wellness, and then you connect with other people because they're in that group, and so that's a lead magnet for me.

Speaker 1:

And we have those links too that we can put in the show notes. So if you're listening, guys, and you're like this sounds interesting to me, I wanna check out those lead magnets. They'll be in the show notes so that you can click through and check them out and to share them with any police wives in your life.

Speaker 2:

Yes, yeah, like I said, I'm on Instagram at EmpoweringLEOW, so you can check out my stuff there. My website is EmpoweringLEOWCoachingcom, so you can find me there. I blog every once in a while, yeah, so that's where you can find me and learn more about me and see if we're a good fit.

Speaker 1:

Nice, and so usually I ask people what's your favorite thing about working in the subscription box industry? But you're pretty new to this. Let me switch the question to what drew you to that subscription box idea? I know you said you heard about it on a podcast, but do you already subscribe to some boxes or do you just like the idea of shopping for your fellow Leo's, or what kind of drew you to the subscription box model?

Speaker 2:

So I really think that there's something to getting a gift when you like sign up for something right. So when I signed up for subscription box bootcamp, I got a nice sweet little gift that came with it and I really loved it, and so I liked the idea of sign up with me coaching and you get this gift. I also really loved like shopping for other people and finding fun gifts and getting the samples and trying the samples out and boxes and gift wrap and like crinkle cunt all those things are really fun, yeah, and so that's been fun too. Like I said, I haven't sent any out, but just like putting together the prototype even was fun.

Speaker 1:

It is a lot of fun. I loved that when I was running my box as well, and I realized that gift giving is one of my love languages, so it really made sense that I love to curate these boxes for all these women and pack them up and ship them out to them. So let me ask you, before we close out here, what's one piece of advice you can share through your experience if someone's thinking about starting a box, because I know you're still in the trenches right now in that pre-launch. So what's one piece of advice, something that maybe you've learned so I was in a hurry, Hmm.

Speaker 2:

And so I would say don't be in such a hurry, because that's when you get tripped up and then you have to go back anyway. So there was a lot of paperwork that I had to do. I had to get my EIN number, I had to get. There were just so many steps that I had to take and I was like I just want to get this stuff out of the way so I can actually work on what I want to work on. And in doing that I had, like I stumbled a lot, Like the government sent me my paperwork back a few times and I was just like God, this is so annoying, but it's because I was in a hurry. And my husband always tells me he's like why don't you just slow down? You're always in such a hurry and I just get so excited about things that I get and I'm just in a rush. And so I would say, just slow down, because in your training videos you talk about how long it takes to build an email list and it really does take a long time.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, it depends on your audience. You're so right. It takes effort and time to build that email list and some people will come in and they already have an email list or a base of people because maybe they're adding it to an existing large business. Some people will throw some ad money towards those giveaways or those lead magnets and that's one way to grow your email list faster. But, as you had mentioned, you were working on a $0 budget, so it is time and blood, sweat and tears that you put into growing that email list. So it really depends on what your list or what your existing network looks like.

Speaker 1:

Some people are starting from scratch, some people are already part of some communities, and then it also you take into account ad money, actual tech time, so some people can quickly get that kind of thing up and running, but some people are starting with zero tech knowledge, so you're never running a race. I would agree with your husband that you should slow down, and I will also add that you shouldn't compare your journey to someone else's journey, because maybe they have some advantages that you don't, and so, like I said, maybe they already have a list started or maybe they have $1,000 in their back pocket allocated for ad budget. So I would echo what he said about slowing down but also to not compare yourself to someone else's journey. So you really have to think about what your goals are. We always keep working on that email list and double down on that lead magnet, double down on any giveaways and doing some outreach to the city, to the local community of who can I partner up with to reach the police, wife community and serve them well.

Speaker 2:

Yep, those are great ideas. I didn't even really think about reaching out to community.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, one of our other boot campers. She had actually written a letter like went old school, grassroots and typed up a letter and signed each one and sent it to all the local organizations that were serving that same audience that she would be complimentary to, but not competing with them, and I thought that was such a good way to do it, because we are so used to just shooting an email here or sending a DM here, where she actually took the time to type up and print out some letters, where she hand signed them and told a little bit about her story and it was just an invitation to network and collaborate on a future project. So maybe that might even be an opportunity to go old school and write a letter. So, because we get so many emails, and when you get a handwritten note or a letter in the mail that actually has value in it, then it kind of makes you stop in your tracks and think, oh OK, this is a real person. This is not just AI writing a letter, this is not. But you could use AI to start the letter but then put your personal touch on it, definitely.

Speaker 1:

Yes, great idea. There's so many different things that you can do to grow your network and to grow your email list. It's all a matter of what you have time for. But don't beat yourself up on that either, because you've got kids, you're a wife, you're a coach, Like you've got all these things. So it's sometimes hard to make that balance. You'll never find equal equilibrium exactly, but it's kind of a moving target, I feel like.

Speaker 2:

Definitely yeah, and just having like realistic expectations for sure.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, that's a good point. Well, I want to thank you, erica. Thank you for sharing your story. I know it can be scary and vulnerable to be in that pre-launch and share with people about what you're doing, and so I want to applaud you, I want to cheer you on. Continue on with your journey, pick that launch date and then follow back up with us so we can share that with everyone and tell everyone again where they can find you, remind us of the website and your social media handles.

Speaker 2:

So my Instagram is at EmpoweringLEOW and then my website is EmpoweringLEOWCoachingcom and you can find me. You can find all my Facebook links on my Instagram bio.

Speaker 1:

Perfect, we will link all those in the show notes as well. Again, erica, thank you for sharing your story with us today. We really appreciate you. Yeah, all right, thanks everybody for listening today and we'll see you in the next episode. Bye, ok.

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