Dance your way into the fascinating realm of subscription boxes with us and our special guest, Gwen Potter, the dynamic founder of Butterfly Ballet Club. Gwen shares her journey from managing brick and mortar dance studios to navigating her online subscription box venture in the midst of a global pandemic. You'll hear how she's beautifully woven an educational element into each subscription box, harmonizing costume accessories, dance props, and insightful flashcards, immersing children in the ballet universe.
Gwen imparts valuable tips on running a subscription box venture and the vital role of understanding your numbers and staying anchored to your 'why'. Diving into her personal experience, she emphasizes the significance of simplicity and repetition, and even reveals her strategy of crafting a two-year curriculum for her box. But that's not all - the challenges, the struggles, the importance of setting goals, and keeping your motivation high - Gwen opens up about all this and more.
So, put on your ballet shoes, hit play, and let's dance into this episode!
Learn more about the Butterfly Ballet Club at https://butterflyballetclub.com
So you want to launch a subscription box and don't know where to start.Speaker 2:
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. Welcome to Subscription Box Basics. This is Renee Gonzalez, your marketing coach here, and today I have a really special guest. I have Gwen Potter from the Butterfly Ballet Club, and not only is she the founder, but she is also a dance teacher. She is all the things. So I cannot wait for you to hear me in her chat. Gwen, I will let you introduce yourself in one second, but I also just wanted to say she is one of our students from Box Besties, so she was with our cohort in the spring, but me and Gwen haven't talked for a while too, so I am excited to catch up and, gwen, I am so happy you are here and happy to chat with you.Speaker 1:
Thank you so much, Renee. It's really sweet to be here.Speaker 2:
Thank you. So how about? I already mentioned, you are not only a creator of a box, but you are also a dance teacher, which I think is very cool, because you are a studio owner, multiple studio owner, and you have a little different experience, possibly, than some of our listeners, because you manage both brick, brick and mortar locations and have to manage the box. So, before I spill all the details, why don't you tell us a little bit about yourself and your background?Speaker 1:
I have been teaching ballet for over 30 years, running my own studio for over 20 years. I am from Eastern Pennsylvania and I get to do what I love. Like any job, it's not always easy or always fun, but I really do love what I'm doing, and so our subscription box came out of our studio experience, from my teaching and studio experience, and it's been such a joy to be able to spread my love for ballet out beyond the walls of our studios.Speaker 2:
Oh, that is so amazing and such a good way, like you said, to impact lives beyond just your studio doors and, if I remember correctly, I feel like your launch story happened at a time where you had to pivot. Is that. Will you tell us a little bit about when you launched and what kind of sprung the idea for the box to come into creation?Speaker 1:
That's right. I had been thinking about trying to create something virtual for about five years before COVID, but I just couldn't get to it because I was so busy with the studio. I have quite a few granddaughters and they're spread across the country and I wanted to be able to share ballet with them, but that didn't happen until COVID when, for a short time, we had to close down the studio and we were teaching virtually, which is not ideal and I was trying to figure out how could I make the experience better for our students and realize that so many of the fun but the things that make our class wonder filled and fun are we use beautiful props in class ribbons and scarves and so many things like that and so that sparked the idea for me that we needed to have a physical component as well, and that was the beginning of the box. I spent a lot of time during COVID designing the box, and then we've been sending out boxes for a little bit over two years now.Speaker 2:
That's amazing and a great example of turning lemons into lemonade. You had a problem and came up with a solution, which happened to be the subscription box. In this situation, and from what I know a little bit about your subscription box, I think any of you have already mentioned it's really cool because it's a ballet-centered box, but there's always a educational purpose to each box you send as well, correct? What sort of things do you include in your box?Speaker 1:
We have lots of different things. We have costume accessories that kids love to dress up. So we about every other month there's a tutu included that goes with the theme. And then we have dance props like wands or scarves or different items that, honestly, we make a lot of those. We custom make those because you can't purchase what we would use in class, so those are a lot of those are handmade. And then we always include flashcards where each month is focused on a different role from a famous ballet, like the Nutcracker or Sleeping Beauty. Our upcoming December box is the Sugar Plum Fairy. The kids will receive flashcards that teach them about the Sugar Plum Fairy dance. They also receive a letter from the Sugar Plum Fairy which describes what it's like to dance as a Sugar Plum Fairy, so that they can actually feel what it is, what it's like to have that role and to learn more about the ballet itself.Speaker 2:
Oh, I love that, such an immersive experience, and I have two daughters and neither one of them is in ballet, but they are both in different sports and gymnastics, and I feel like to give that. Give children and your subscribers a look ahead to what they are learning and really immerse them in different ways, makes them love ballet even more because they really feel connected to it. So it's such a good example, too for anyone listening. You're living up to what we always suggest in creating a community and creating an immersed experience, because you're giving them so much more than a box of stuff. So kudos to you, good job. Well, I know this came out of a challenge the box coming to life but now that you're two years into sending boxes, what are some of the challenges, what that had been your biggest challenges and how have you overcome or how are you overcoming them?Speaker 1:
For me personally, the biggest challenge was I had always run an in-person business, so learning to have an online business was a whole new ballgame and I didn't have an audience, I didn't have or much experience at all. So that has been the biggest challenge for me. It's a learning curve, just like everything. And the other challenge I would say is being a little bit impatient, because I have a 20-something year old business, an established business with lots of word of mouth, and I had forgotten how difficult it was to start a new business. Honestly, because now our business, yes, it's a lot of my studio, is a lot of work, but it's very established.Speaker 2:
Yes, it's just been a big learning curve for me and you already are good at being a business owner and know what to do, and it's still starting from ground zero and building up. So if anyone is listening and frustrated because you have to do the work you've been doing the work for 20 years and still have to grow that audience and it comes, but it is just baby steps and gradual and you have to put the work in, even with the audience, I know. And then how about? What is one piece of advice? And this is, I feel like, really important, because you are juggling both owning a studio, studios and Sending something via mail what is one piece of advice that you would have and it could be specific to box owners or it could be specific to people who have multiple facets of their business and are doing multiple things. What has been something that has helped you or advice you would give to someone that it's just new or starting out?Speaker 1:
I think I even have a couple of things, but I'll give them all that's your thing would be that something that I learned from the group which was super helpful was the goal setting, as far as having a good, better, best goal rather than having one goal, because I've started using that in both of my businesses because I have, I think that I have high expectations and often won't meet my goals and so I get scourge and don't want to have any goals. Yeah, this has helped me to have a reasonable goal and then have a better goal and even better, and that's been very encouraging to me. So thank you to you guys.Speaker 2:
And I am goal setting is. I follow it every day. I love it. I make everyone I know set goals, so I'm so glad that has been helpful for you. And I think, just as women, as business owners, we are high achievers and you sometimes like you said it is it does take those steps to work up to those goals. So if you and I'm the same way I'm an all or nothing person I feel like I could get discouraged and then just want to stop. So if you have tiers of goals, it's yes, I didn't hit my best goal, but I'm still moving forward. What a good one and I'm glad that's working for you. And I think everyone should always set multiple goals. So you, if, even if you fall short, you're still moving forward, yes, Thank you for the excellent advice. Any time. And then you said you had a couple. Do you have any more?Speaker 1:
I do they're both related to the struggle of starting up a business. The first one is just and I was just yesterday reminded of this that you need to keep looking at the numbers, because you go into a new business with a passion and your feelings about it and your exhaustion level goes up and down, and Yet sometimes you just need to take a step back away from all those feelings Uh huh Numbers when you're feeling overwhelmed, when you're feeling like you need to make a decision. You probably do need to make a decision, but you need to look at the numbers because they don't. They're stable and your feelings aren't.Speaker 2:
Oh my gosh. Yes, they are stable and your feelings are not. If you did not hear that.Speaker 1:
So that, and that also ties in with just remembering why you're doing what you're doing. Because in the struggle, in the just the work of it all, sometimes you feel like quitting. And I love what I do, I love sending out the boxes, I love being able to give this gift to these children and their families, but when I'm tired and overwhelmed I can lose my vision for that. But I need to keep going back to why am I doing it and why is it important to me and for them, and then that helps me to keep everything in perspective.Speaker 2:
Oh my gosh, I feel like mic drop. Those three words of wisdom are so, so good and need to be heard and repeated and remembered. So, thank you, thank you, thank you for that. And I feel like this time of year if you don't do it weekly or monthly looking at your numbers, this time of year, as you're reflecting ending a year and going forward into a new year, is the most important time and to really get centered and remember your why. I think it should be something that you daily, if not weekly, do. But yeah, I think your timing is so on, because, as we're setting goals going into the future and what the next year looks like, it's really important to remember your why. And it is hard to be a business owner, a subscription box owner, a brick and mortar business owner Every day you get thrown struggles that if you don't remember why you're doing it or your numbers aren't reflecting that effort that you're putting in, you need to know if you should pivot or double down on something that's working. So if you have a good grasp on your numbers and your why, I feel like it's so much easier, like you said, to go in it with your head and not your heart necessarily, and remove those emotions and really see what is stable. And those are your numbers. So, ah, mic drop, I love it. Is there anything else? I feel like we could just keep going and you could just spit out words of advice for everyone. But is there anything else working in the subscription box industry, something that you've really loved the past two years, or something that's been your favorite, or anything else you'd like to share with our audience?Speaker 1:
Let's see Something, I guess. One more thing that I learned in my in-person business but I've really tried to apply it from the beginning in the box that's been super helpful to me is to try to keep things simple and repeatable. It takes a while, it takes experimentation, but once you get there for instance, we have so with each box we have a class video that goes with the box so that, for instance, if you got the Sugar Plum Fairy box, the child would learn a modified, child-friendly version of the Sugar Plum Fairy dance so that they can become familiar with the music and really become a part of that. But I knew that I didn't want to those. Creating those videos was a lot of work, so I knew that I didn't want to do that for the rest of my life, so I decided on a two-year curriculum that we cycle through. I've made 24 class videos and I would just say to those subscription box owners out there that you don't always have to create something new, and you're especially for me, with children as my, as my people who are getting the box, they will. I do have people who have subscribed for over two years and now they're repeating it, but most people are not going to subscribe for that long for children.Speaker 2:
And in the eyes of a child too, if they're learning it at four and then learning it again at six, it's a different experience for them.Speaker 1:
Exactly, and we do the same thing at our studio with rotating technical skills that we're teaching, we cycle through. When they hit that two years later, it's a whole different experience, and so I'm trying this time around to work smart, and that's been a joy. Now that I've passed the two year mark, I'm not having to create those videos anymore, and it was a lot. It was a lot, but it was fun too.Speaker 2:
So, yeah, I feel like that is genius. And honestly I feel and I don't know, maybe Julia's heard this before but I've heard so many subscribers who have a one year plan and or are trying to struggle with the year thing but then they don't know what to do. But I've never heard anyone that has a two year. And I think that is genius because no matter what your audience is, even like you're two years older, it's a different perspective in it. You're ready to hear that information again. I know just like personal development books pop into mind. I reread personal development books and it hits me different a second time and I feel like that's like your curriculum in your box. So that is so brilliant, a good job. The two year curriculum, I think, is such a good takeaway. And then how you've said repeatable whether someone listening decides to do it in a two year stretch or just looking at it month to month. I know for SparkleHusselGrow we always included the same categories each month, so our brain didn't have to overthink things. We were like, okay, we need 12 books for the year, 12 stationary supplies. So I really do think one of the power of having a subscription box really is that you can repeat things but just have a little tweak so it gets delivered to your subscribers in a different way. But your brain has to think less. So the two year curriculum is I've never once heard anyone say they do two years. So good job to you and I'm happy it's working and I'm happy you're in that second year now so it's a little easier. Or pass that second year, yeah, and then before we wrap up, I know whether people are listening and just wanna follow you for your brilliance or have someone they know that is in ballet. Can you let people know where they can find you online?Speaker 1:
Sure, our website is butterflyballetclubcom. Facebook, instagram, pinterest. We are Butterfly Ballet Club, so pretty straightforward.Speaker 2:
Yeah, and very easy. And another last little piece of advice if you make it easy for people to follow you and find you, they will. So thank you so much, Gwen. I am so happy to get to chat with you and that our subscribers got to hear a little bit more about your box and your story, and thank you for being on the podcast.Speaker 1:
Thank you so much, Renee. I really had fun talking with you. Ah, me too.Speaker 2:
And if you are listening. Thank you for listening. Make sure to follow Gwen and make sure to come back next week for a new episode. Bye λη. No-transcript.