The Stories Behind 10 Women-Owned Businesses Who #ChooseToChallenge

Officially, International Women's Day takes place on March 8th, but you can celebrate every day of the year! The theme for 2021 is #ChooseToChallenge, encouraging people around the world to fight for equality by challenging the status quo, raising awareness against bias, and honoring women’s achievements.

To celebrate, we've gathered here 10 of our favorite subscription boxes that are made by women for women. These entrepreneurs took a risk to launch their businesses and choose to keep challenging themselves –– and the status quo –– each and every day! Learn about these women, their businesses, and their stories, and support women’s achievements, below.

1. Authentic Books

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What’s in the Box: A new “five senses” experience every month, featuring an engrossing novel, a hand-poured soy candle, handmade bath and body products, a small-batch cocktail mixer or relaxing tea blend, self-care items, and a custom playlist to go along with that month’s book.

The Story: Natisha found inspiration in motherhood. “As a mother of three little girls, creating memories and experiences is very important to me,” she explains. “So I took my love for reading and need for self-care and created an immersive book box subscription service to help all of us slow down and take care of ourselves.”

How She #ChoosesToChallenge: In addition to supporting other small businesses through their product curation, Authentic Books gives back by donating 5% of profits to charitable causes. “Authentic Books believes in supporting helping others succeed,” Natisha says, “whether it's through shopping small, donating to The Malala Fund, or just simply letting our customers know their voices matter. Authentic Books wouldn't be where we are today without the feedback and overwhelming support from our subscribers.”

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2. Herbal Apprentice Box by Apothecary At Home

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What’s in the Box: Simple herbalism DIYs with everything you need to learn traditional herbal medicine, from recipes to dried herbs, seeds, all-natural body care materials, herbal study guides, and more.

The Story: In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, founder Shannon –– a professional apprentice in herbal medicine –– found herself called to help others seeking alternative regimens and remedies for their health. “Traditional herbalism schools can be a huge time and financial commitment,” she explains, and there was growing interest in her community for herbal medicine. “I wanted to create an accessible way for folks to care for themselves and their loved ones from home… We're committed to making this knowledge accessible and affordable, and celebrating the medicine women and plant healers who came before us.” Since launching her business on Cratejoy in May, Apothecary at Home has sold out each month.

Her Advice for Other Female Founders: “So many people have million-dollar ideas, but they talk themselves out of it for one reason or another,” she says. “Just get started. You don't have to have your entire 5-year strategy figured out from the get-go. It's kind of like doing a Sudoku puzzle: just focus on solving one square at a time, and soon the whole thing will come together.”

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3. Genius Box

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What’s in the Box: Three or more themed, interactive, and all-inclusive STEM projects for kids aged 8-12 to explore and learn, plus a collectible comic and button to discover more. New subscribers receive a Welcome Kit that also includes a special Team Genius pencil, fun eraser, and pencil case.

The Story: Cofounders Kate and Shivangi started Genius Box to combat the “age of screens,” so kids could experience STEM topics hands-on. “Our goal was to light a spark of curiosity for STEM while connecting our kits to real-world challenges,” Kate tells us. “We want to encourage kids to problem-solve and get creative. Plus, we think it is important to increase representation in STEM, especially for women and underrepresented individuals, to show that any kid can be successful in STEM.”

Their Advice for Other Female Founders: “Reach out and find programs in your region that may be geared towards female founders or companies in the start-up phase. Also, I have joined several women's networking and entrepreneur groups that have been super helpful to be connected to others going through similar things.”

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4. Club Rapunzel

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What’s in the Box: Luxe hair treatments for all hair types, from locs to curls, waves, and more, to repair and grow gorgeous tresses.

The Story: “When I moved to Miami,” founder Monique says, “the struggle with maintaining my hair in the humidity began.” When she dyed her hair, she found that the Florida sunshine and heat combined to cause serious damage. While “looking for a solution, I developed a program for chemical damage repair and healthy growth,” Monique explains. “Sensing an opportunity to help other women improve their own hair health, Club Rapunzel was born.”

How She #ChoosesToChallenge: “In Club Rapunzel, we #ChooseToChallenge the standards that women's hair needs to be straightened, colored, or in any way manipulated to look professional, acceptable, or normal.”

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5. Mix Box by Homemade Bakers

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What’s in the Box: A delicious dessert kit with all the pre-measured ingredients and step-by-step instructions you need to bake something sweet.

The Story: “I am always asked why I started Mix Box,” says founder Katelyn. “It's simple –– I have a passion for baking 100% homemade desserts and I want everyone to have that feeling of having a fresh baked good on the counter every month!” As she grew up, Katelyn loved baking with her family. “The most inspiring person in my life, and the person who taught me how to bake, was my mom. When she would bake, I would sit on the counter and sneak small pieces of brown sugar & chocolate chips –– she usually caught me!” she laughs. “Baking can be fun and experimental, but it can also be a time to relax and unwind.”

Her Advice for Other Female Founders: “Be confident and don't doubt yourself! You can do what you want to do, but it won't be easy and it won't be handed to you. Take that small business class that your local small business association is hosting, attend that online photography class, invest in your business & yourself. Keep pushing, success doesn't happen overnight. Success is not linear; you will have highs and lows, wins and downfalls. In the end, it matters where you end up!”

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6. HER-MINE

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What’s in the Box: 5-8 curated, premium self-care products from women-owned small businesses, such as bath and body care, candles, skincare, snacks, teas, jewelry, and more.

The Story: Pam and her daughter Trudy founded HER-MINE in loving memory of Hermine, “Trudy’s favorite aunt and Pam’s baby sister.” Each month, they “strive to deliver the sisterly love Hermine shared with them to their subscribers” by supporting other women on their own journeys of self-love.

How They #ChooseToChallenge: In addition to featuring exclusively women-owned businesses in each box, the Sisterhood Team at HER-MINE provides micro-loans to female entrepreneurs around the world. “We #ChooseToChallenge by building up and encouraging women,” Trudy says. “We operate from a space of abundance, so we are not threatened by the success of other women.”

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7. Filled With Gold

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What’s in the Box: 5-7 self-care products thoughtfully curated to support widows, featuring items such as books, candles, activities, bath and spa products, and more.

The Story: “When my husband Dave died in his sleep,” founder Melissa tells us, “it was as if death stole my life as I knew it. I felt like I’d never feel love, joy, or purpose again.” Suddenly a single mom to two boys, Melissa knew she needed to carve out space to take care of herself in order to be the best parent she could. “That moment was a game-changer, as I began the work of processing my deep grief and practicing tons of self-care to move forward… It took time, but I did find that I wasn’t alone and I could experience joy, confidence, and even love again.” To help other women going through similar struggles, Melissa wrote a memoir, Filled with Gold, in 2017. “This led me to create Filled With Gold subscription boxes,” she says. The carefully curated self-care box is “specifically designed to support widows in practicing self-care regularly. Each box is filled with self-care items to encourage taking the time to process the death of their partner and to treat themselves with a little compassion and kindness during this difficult time.”

How She #ChoosesToChallenge: “Nearly 2,800 women are widowed in the US every day,” Melissa explains. “That period of time, processing the grief of my husband's 'out of order' death, was the most challenging of my life, and [I] managed to move my family's lives forward by putting myself first and practicing regular self-care. I come from a place of service and am dedicated to supporting widows in rebuilding their lives.”

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8. Lit Kit Art Box

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What’s in the Box: All the materials you need to paint a masterpiece each month, plus access to an exclusive virtual class led by artist and founder Angelica to help you paint that month’s project.

The Story: Founder Angelica, an artist herself, works as an elementary school art teacher. In early 2020, “when COVID hit,” she says, “I knew that people needed a therapeutic outlet and needed to feel a sense of community during this time.” Thus, Lit Kit Art Box –– an art class in a box –– was born.

How She #ChoosesToChallenge: “A portion of the proceeds for Lit Kit Art Box go towards a scholarship for a minority art school student at Columbia College Chicago,” Angelica explains. “We aim to raise awareness against bias.”

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9. Craftee DIY

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What’s in the Box: All the materials you need to DIY a different craft project every month, from making candles to concrete planters, resin agate coasters, watercolor greeting cards, felt floral wreaths, and more.

The Story: The events of 2020 led Greta, then a marketer, to rethink some things. “Spending so much time at home, I had a lot of time to think about what makes me happy and what I wanted to do with my life,” she explains. Doing “all the crafts I hadn't had time for in years sparked something really special for me and got me thinking about how I could turn the thing I really love –– creativity –– into a business. The idea for Craftee hit me all of a sudden one day, and I knew it was THE thing for me.” With little else to do in lockdown, Greta got down to business and launched Craftee DIY two weeks later! “Now, eight months in, I call myself Craftee's Chief Crafter,” Greta says. “It is the most fun, challenging, and motivating thing I have ever done. Starting a business has helped me grow in so many ways I never knew I could, and it has inspired me to dream even bigger.”

How She #ChoosesToChallenge: “At Craftee, we #ChooseToChallenge that only a certain type of woman is creative,” Greta says. “You can be an engineer, an accountant, a CEO, a doctor or an athlete, and there is still endless creativity in you! We as a society need to stop putting women in boxes and telling them what they can or can't be. When women tap into the creativity that they may not even know is there, the whole world is better for it. Every person is creative, but I especially love seeing how women express this quality in all the amazing roles they play and spaces they occupy.”

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10. Find49

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What’s in the Box: A mindfully curated selection of products from Alaskan small businesses, chosen by Alaskans for Alaskans, such as notebooks, candles, stickers, warm beverage mixes (cocoa, anyone?), jewelry, and more.

The Story: “Our heart is set in Alaska,” explain cofounders, friends, and Alaska residents Erin and Kelsie. “Our mission is to impact our community and local Alaskan small businesses through thoughtful collaboration with a monthly subscription box. We aim to help fuel Alaska's economy through small business growth by giving Alaskan entrepreneurs another platform to share their work. There are so many incredible brands in our state,” they say, “and we want to help our customers in Alaska and beyond discover the amazing products they have to offer.”

Their Advice for Other Female Founders: “You are capable of anything you put your mind to. Find something you're passionate about, and stick with it. There are so many resources available online –– use them!” Erin and Kelsie say. “You don't have to reinvent the wheel –– by applying what you're able to learn from others and giving it your own twist and personality, you can be successful! Entrepreneurship is hard work, but if you love your field, it'll be mostly fun hard work!”

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