Quirk It, Girl!
Kalkaska entrepreneur proves big things come from little (monthly) packages
By Ross Boissoneau | Dec. 1, 2018
For self-described “quirky girl” Rochelle Nevedal, it was a case of need meeting opportunity. She needed a job, and she didn’t see any subscription boxes that were designed with someone like her in mind: fun-loving, colorful, eclectic. So she created one, and Quirky Crate was born.
“I was working a corporate job and was not happy with the lifestyle. It didn’t fit my personality and didn’t fulfill my desire to be creative,” said Nevedal. So she did what any enterprising entrepreneur did: Reality TV. “I did The Amazing Race,” she said, the CBS reality competition in which teams of two race across the world.
When she returned to her home in Kalkaska, she decided to switch gears completely. With an engineering background, she’d worked for AT&T and done e-marketing for Fox Motors. “One day, I was looking for a subscription box to try out and realized there wasn’t much out there for color-loving, quirky girls like myself,” she said.
For those not in the know, a subscription box is a regular delivery of some sort of goods. They run the gamut from clothing to cosmetics, education to foodstuffs. HelloFresh, Birchbox, Stitchfix, and Dollar Shave Club are among the best-known. Now Nevedal is hoping Quirky Crate can join them.
And it appears she’s on her way. “Since May 2017, I have shipped nearly 10,000 crates world-wide out of my home office in Kalkaska. I run every aspect of my business including the website, design, product curation, marketing, photography, customer service and more.”
The boxes themselves include artwork and some sort of special product inspired by the artist of the month. “Each month I collaborate with an artist. I include at least one item from them and a postcard that has their biography, photos and where to find them,” said Nevedal.
She and the artist often collaborate in the creation of an exclusive product, and then Nevedal gets it manufactured. “For example, in October, I did a pillow sham with the artwork from the artist printed on it. I also have my own line of products that I design and create. Each month I design and manufacture an enamel pin that is included in the crate, and I also design and produce products like bags or hats.”
The base cost of the goods each month runs around $15, not including Nevedal’s time in creating items and curating the collection. They sell for $35 each. “I decide on a theme (so) they all fit together,” she said of the items in any one box, which typically includes eight different pieces. “Last month I featured an artist from the UK. There are lots of exclusive things.”
She’s received accolades from numerous sources, from Buzzfeed to Forbes. The website PureWow.com listed Quirky Crate among its “50 Best Subscriptions Boxes,” saying “If unicorn lattes pique your interest, then this box filled with colorful items is exactly what you need each month.”
Her subscription model is very flexible, offering one-, three-, and six-month subscriptions as well as a full year of Quirky Crates. She also allows her subscribers to skip a month. “It’s tricky. People cancel every month,” Nevedal said. She gives her subscribers until the 23rd of the month, then buys her products, but said she always has some late buyers. So she tries to guess how many of each item she’ll really need. “Ones that don’t sell out I include on the website.”
The 33-year-old thought when she started the business that the bulk of her customers would be in her age range. “My target market when I started was women in their 20-30s. However I have found out that my subscribers are of all ages, from eight to 55. A lot of moms and daughters subscribe and share their crates.”
Speaking of moms and daughters, Nevedal has seen the business grow to the point where it’s no longer a one-woman operation. She employs both her parents, and her husband occasionally helps out.
As might be expected, social media is her best friend. “I only have spent maybe a few hundred dollars in marketing since I started. I mainly use Instagram to portray the vibe of my brand and it’s worked out really well. Ninety percent of my customers come from Instagram, and it’s been a really great free platform for me to grow on,” Nevedal said.
“People like to buy from people, so I have made sure to incorporate myself through the brand. I spend a lot of time getting to know my subscribers and networking with other creative,” she said. She also taps into others who are well-known on social media. “Every month I send a couple boxes to social media influencers who have 100,000 followers. They share my crate to their followers and it’s really helped get my name out there.
All told, she’s ecstatic at how successful Quirky Crate has become, though she said with only two employees she’s careful about trying to get too big, too fast. “It’s been around 600 boxes per month. I’m going slow with growing.”