By Stephanie Wills
Every Friday, we invite creative professionals and entrepreneurs into our studio to Show and Tell what they’ve been up to. Last Friday, we met Ashley, Rubi, and Nate. They’re three entrepreneurs with busy day jobs who’ve started a subscription service for the ultimate monthly subscription – the period. They call it The Period Store. We learned a few puns and a lot about launching a startup. Here’s what:
1. Give your passions wings in the real world.
Back in 2010, Ashley and Rubi imagined a museum-store dedicated to periods. It would be a magical palace of chocolate and puppies dressed as kittens – a safe place for women to ditch the euphemisms and creepy Aunt Flo references for real talk. It was the menstruation museum-store we deserve… but not the one we need right now.
Still, it was something that excited them enough to reimagine how it might live based on current behaviors and trends. Their thinking was: online subscription services like Birchbox and Quarterly have recently garnered popularity, so why not make a subscription service for your lady subscription?
2. Have a mission with an anti-leak core.
From the start, the team had a strong mission: make periods less uncomfortable to have and less uncomfortable to talk about. They wanted their product to facilitate an honest discussion between women and de-stigmatize a natural process.
Every part of their business operates from this foundational mission — from their blog to the choice of high-end treats and teas in their packages. It not only differentiates them from their competitors but also guides them through what can be a stressful, uncertain process.
3. Let the conversation flow.
To turn an idea into real life, the team stressed the importance of talking about it to anyone and everyone. It’s a source of self-consciousness for many idea-makers to expose their brainchildren, but feedback can be valuable.
The more the team shared their idea, the more it grew into something real. They even got some crucial marketing elements (like pun-driven taglines) from unexpected sources (a guy).
4. Start light. Then get heavy.
The Period Store is run out of Ashley’s and Nate’s spare room. It may be difficult to understand the concept of a “spare room” in NYC, but take a second to wrap your head around it. It’s a good visualization of their current scope.
The team has big ideas that fuel their business, but they’ve had to funnel those ideas into a size they can handle with limited space and time. In order to maintain a realistic workload, they’ve had to start small, prioritize future projects, and plan strategic, incremental growth.
5. Pad a product with partnerships.
The Period Store team has cultivated partnerships with local businesses and artists. This adds to their monthly package choices with products like artisanal chocolates and colorful art about womanhood. It also fosters mutual promotion, shared interest, and a warm, fuzzy feeling.
Building strong partnerships also applies to PR. They’ve taken a personal route to outreach initiatives in order to generate interest. So far, it’s worked. Hello Giggles, Huffington Post and Fast Company have picked up on the story.
6. Don’t cramp your relationships.
The period store is based in personal relationships. Ashley and Nate are married, and all three are close friends. Partnerships with most loved partners don’t have to implode when a business explodes – as long as time goes into protecting those relationships.
Same goes for customer relations. The team is building their customer service on creating relationships with those who support them. They let their supporters help shape Period Store offerings and share stories on their blog The Periodical (of course).
7. Don’t let PMS get you down.
Haters gonna hate. The team gets some flack for being all about periods, but also a lot of constructive feedback and a lot of support. They ride the crimson tide of annoying internet criticism on confidence in themselves and their mission. And, hey, they got a shout out on Conan, so it seems to be working.