1000 Attaboys

by Alicia on April 23, 2014

Bing-Wright-3-Design-Crush

It takes 1,000 ‘Atta boys’ to overcome one ‘You’re worthless and no good.’ - Dr. Phil

Why yes I did just kick this off with a Dr. Phil quote. Why not? I actually used to watch a lot of Dr. Phil when we lived in Chicago 5+ years ago. Then we moved to Houston and he wasn’t on there – crazy, right? I’m sure we get him again now (wait, is he still on?) but I don’t watch anymore. (My other favorite Dr. Phil-ism that I had an opportunity to break out and share at an event a few weeks ago is “Do you want to be right? Or do you want to be happy?”)

The reason that quote came to mind is because this morning we heard from a blogger who asked us at Whimseybox to not share and promote his/her content anymore. And when I read the email I literally had a physical reaction to the rejection. My stomach jumped up into my throat, my chest constricted and I got kind of panic-y. This isn’t the first time we’ve gotten a request like this (though I can count them on less than 1 hand) but it always SUCKS. Sunny and 80 degrees outside? WHO CARES EVERYONE HATES YOU!

Earlier this week I posted some of the positive feedback we’ve had from Influencers. And the response has been overwhelmingly positive, but not 100% of course. I know some people that aren’t phased by hearing ‘no’ and others are even energized by it. Not me, I’m easily thrown off-balance and into doubt. Here’s how my thoughts usually go:

  • Ohmygod no they hate us.
  • Everyone hates us. They think we’re horrible scammers.
  • Maybe we ARE horrible scammers!
  • No! They just don’t understand! We’re working so hard and we want to help them. We’re trying to do everything right! Why won’t they give it chance?
  • I mean seriously, what is their problem. I hate everyone.
  • No I don’t! I’m just hurt and taking it personally. BREATHE. I am not physically wounded. There is nothing to be afraid of here.

Eventually I find peace in the things I know:

  • We are building a product with value that we really believe in.
  • We are acting honestly and with integrity in our all of our business dealings.
  • We can’t know what is right for someone else’s business.
  • We’ll win ‘em over eventually :)

I just thought it was worth mentioning this part of it too. Really, it’s to be expected – we’re doing things in a way that they haven’t been done before. Not everyone is going to understand or like or even care about what we’re doing, especially not right away. We’re using commerce to power our website and content sharing by attaching relevant supply lists to most of the projects we share on our site. Traditionally blogs/websites/communities that share content (such as craftgawker, for example) use display ads. We believe that using commerce to do it creates a better experience for readers and bloggers. Readers can find the relevant supplies for a project, instead of random ads and bloggers can still drive traffic to their site while also being able to earn commission on the sales that their content creates. We think it’s win-win, and so we’re going to keep working hard to build it… even on days when we hear ‘no good’.

PS – Semi-related, I enjoyed this post from Grace at Design*Sponge this week.

Image by Bing Wright via Design Crush.

 

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Makeathon Night!

by Alicia on April 22, 2014

makeathon-insp

Tonight we’re having a Makeathon at Whimseybox. It’s our version of the popular idea of a startup hackathon, where developers get together and build a new solution for something. It’s an opportunity to pick a project that you maybe would never otherwise work on and try to make something awesome. Since we’re not all programmers, our version is a Makeathon where the making is generally less technical. Lately as things have gotten busier I’ve found myself spending less and less time getting hands on so it’s a welcome opportunity to dive in! This is my inspiration board, I look forward to sharing what I make! I’ve got a project for the office planned and plan on playing with the new Cricut Explore to make it.

*While writing this I just had a fun idea. Wouldn’t it be cool if every Whimseybox employee got a craft supply budget for the month to encourage them to make stuff? I’m not sure what it would be or exactly how we’d administer it but I think that would be an awesome perk – I’m going to figure it out! What do you think, would $100/month be cool? We have a lot of supplies here but that would make it easy for them to get the other items they need.

Image Sources: Banner, pillow, creativity, gems, start, bags, hangers.

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withlove

We’re been having a lot of fun at Whimseybox lately building our Influencer referral program for DIY+craft bloggers. I’ve talked about it quite a bit here and for me it’s kind of personal because what we’re building now is exactly the kind of tools and program that I’ve wanted to exist since I started this blog. As with any projects, creative or business or otherwise, sometimes the progress feels slow and other times the wind is at your back and things start happening quickly. Right now the wind is at our back…

Here’s what bloggers have been telling us…

“This is a GREAT idea- thank you for the invitation. I’ve had major frustrations with the affiliate link programs because they weren’t really applicable for my “sewing specific” blog. I’ve been wondering/waiting for when someone would come out with the something for us crafty people!”

“Thank you so much, I am excited to work with you! Whimseybox looks like a great program and I can’t wait to get started.”

“Wow, great idea! I just signed up and am looking forward to working with you.”

“I’ve registered and read up on the website. I’m totally impressed at the idea of it all, it’s genius! I really appreciated the user friendliness of the site. Thanks for reaching out to me, I’m excited for the next step!”

“I actually just recently heard from another blogger about this program and it sounds SO cool!!  I am absolutely interested in joining as an influencer!”

“I love the Whimseybox Influencer concept. I’m excited to start using it!”

“Um, this is AMAZING and I am completely flattered you asked! This is such a good idea, I know my readers are always asking where I get my supplies and a lot of times I honestly can’t remember. It is so nice to just direct them to you guys and I am happy to do so :)”

“I checked out the video at the link you sent and this seems like a great idea! I used to try to link materials lists with Amazon Affiliate links, but truthfully it was somewhat annoying and I just let it drop off. Whimseybox Influencer seems like it will be an easier process and possibly more rewarding (and I’m a fan of the Whimseybox site and projects, so I’d be stoked to partner with you).”

“Ok I was SO ready to be like, sorry, can’t do one more thing, but I thought, at least watch the video! HAHA SOLD!”

“Thanks so much for reaching out! I just watched the video and these seems like a fantastic program. I love that it’s geared toward DIY+craft blogs! I’m signing up right now (woohoo!)”

If you’re a DIY/craft blogger or you know someone who might be interested check out whimseybox.com/influencer. We’d love to have you join us!

 

Image above by EBLTZ on Society6.

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As the April Whimseyboxes head out the door (whew and hooray!) I thought it might be interesting to talk about craft kits. Our April box was the 29th since we started, and in the last 2+ years we’ve learned a lot about creating craft kits. We’ve seen other companies come and go and come and go.

Craft Kits – Not Exactly A New Idea

Whimseybox today is a lot more more than our monthly craft subscription (and much much more to come), but we’re still best known for our monthly kits. Of course even when we started the idea of a craft kit was nothing new, but what we set out to do differently was create kits for cool, modern projects that would appeal to a new generation of crafters and makers. We also wanted them to be attractive even to people who were scared to set foot in a big box craft store. And we wanted it to be affordable ($15/month is a steal, in my opinion!) and accessible (right to your doorstep!).

At the time I started Whimseybox I thought ‘hey, one new product a month – how hard could that be?!’ Ha! It’s actually pretty hard :) I’m often asked how we come up with the ideas for the boxes each month. The truth is that ideas are the easiest part – we have scores of ideas! – the challenge is all in the execution. There are a lot of of things to consider like the budget, sizes, weight, shipping restrictions, timing and more. One of the trickiest pieces is figuring out how to send projects that won’t require the customer to have special tools or equipment. From the beginning we’ve worked to make sure that everything you need to make a project is inside your Whimseybox. We ship boxes to college dorms and military bases and offices and nursing homes – we know that if Step 6 says ‘grab your sewing machine’ or ‘add 1 lb of sugar (not included)’ or ‘now go print the pattern off of our website’ that it would spoil the experience for lots of people. 

Despite all these challenges, putting together the project each month is really fun. Actually I just got out of a meeting finalizing an upcoming box and I’m super inspired! Kits can be totally rad, but in many ways they are also limiting.

Why Kits Are Awesome:

  • You can easily get everything you need to make a project.
  • In the case of our monthly boxes, you don’t even need to decide what to make. We choose a cool project for you.
  • You don’t have to figure out which supplies you need to buy.
  • You aren’t stuck spending extra money to buy a lot of extra supplies you don’t want/need.

Why Kits Fall Short:

  • There’s a limited selection of projects available in kits.
  • You might end up with duplicate tools/supplies.
  • Kits are limited by what you can fit inside the package.
  • Kit materials have to be purchased in advance and processed before the kit can be sold which adds to the price to the consumer and the risk to the business.

Two years ago when we were in Excelerate we thought we’d expand and start doing lots more kits and planned to partner with bloggers on many of them. (In fact, there’s a company working on that idea now.) But as we did our research we realized that to create the industry-changing business we’re dedicated to building and really empower bloggers and manufacturers we’d need to go way beyond the kit.

Putting Our Technology To Work For Us

What most people don’t realize is that all this time while we’ve been building Whimseyboxes and DIY projects we’ve also been building technology – lots of it. The other day Patrick, our CTO, and I were talking about how it can be annoying when people don’t think of us as a technology company. I think, at least in the startup world, it’s easy to assume that a company with physical products is “just” a product company, but there’s actually a growing number of businesses that combine products and technology. (Warby Parker, Birchbox, and Modcloth to name just a few…)

As a company, we’re constantly evaluating what our strengths are and how we can apply them to really add value to the parts of our industry that are broken. So while we think we’re pretty good and creating cool DIYs, we know a lot of other people are too. We’re also pretty good at building and distributing craft kits, but we’re not 10 times better than the next guy. What we are 10 times better at than anyone else is seeing where our industry is headed and building the technology it needs to get there and so that’s what we’re laser-focused on. That’s why we’re building the best content-driven ecommerce site in the industry and creating technologies like Whimseybox Influencer that are changing how DIY + craft bloggers can support themselves while they continue to produce the great content that makes craft shine.

We think our site is pretty good looking, but the truth is that’s just the candy coating…

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Happy Easter!

(By the way, if you’re a Whimseybox subscriber don’t worry – our subscription isn’t going anywhere. In fact, we’re just starting to feel like we’re really got this monthly kit thing nailed down. All of the shipping, procurement and myriad other challenges that used to pop up each month are finally pretty much worked out. We’ve got systems, our systems have systems and based on our monthly survey results things are going really well. And each month when the box comes together we all declare it our new favorite. A big kudos to our Director of Operations Michelle for getting us to this point.)

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Pouch-4

Any picnics or festivals in your future? Have a ton of those freebie flat plastic water bottles that everyone is slapping their logo on these days? Well then I’ve got a project for you! I sewed up this cutie in just a few fast minutes and even got to play with our new Circut Explore to cut out the cute iron-on bear.

You can find the full project over on Whimseybox of course!

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