It’s Veterans Day! Cratejoy is forever grateful to these heroes and the families that love and care for them. Show your own support via our veteran-owned businesses that make amazing subscription boxes, and get great care package ideas to honor the veterans or military families in your life.
We sat down to talk with the founders behind a few of our newest veteran-owned businesses to the Cratejoy Marketplace: Saltwater & Sand, Bake Eat Love, and Belladonna Box. These three businesses, each founded by a veteran or military spouse, go beyond mere products; each subscription box provides an experience to enhance and bring joy to your life, inspired by its founder’s personal experience.
You can read their stories below, then learn more about these businesses at their listings.
Saltwater & Sand
If anyone needs a chance to relax by the beach, it’s the husband and wife team behind seasonal subscription box Saltwater & Sand. Founder Adrianna’s family lived by the beach for years and years, and “when life took us inland,” she says, she missed that environment enough that she began collecting “anything that reminded me of the ocean.”
Later, the busy executive stepped down from her position when her husband Richard, a service member on active duty, was injured in combat. It was then, in helping her husband heal, that the idea for Saltwater & Sand came to Adrianna. The beach was such a comfort to their family -- and is for so many others -- that she founded this quarterly box to “package a little beach and happiness and deliver it wherever you may live.”
Every product included in Saltwater & Sand’s luxury curations is carefully and intentionally sourced to provide a wholly unique experience for the customer. These high-end products are “found in luxury beach boutiques around the world” and can encompass everything from home and living items like artisan-crafted candles, bath and beauty products, gourmet food, jewelry and accessories, beachy lifestyle accessories like hand-woven basket totes, and more.
It’s no wonder that Saltwater & Sand was one of 2019’s most anticipated subscription boxes. Judging by the thoughtfulness of their curations so far, Adrianna is dedicated to helping others take care of themselves and their families -- just like she cares for her own -- with a generous dose of joy and beachy goodness. We can smell the sea already.
Bake Eat Love
Like the best recipes, Bake Eat Love is a family affair. “For a while,” Kristen, BEL’s founder, confesses, “I dreamed of opening a bakery.” However, her prior experience working in a cupcake shop and knowledge from her time in business school told her this would be a significant risk. Still, baking was what she loved to do, and as a result, she found herself turning to the hobby while her husband Nick was deployed on a submarine. “It passed the time,” Kristen says, “and everyone loved my treats!”
After Nick returned, the question became how to pursue such a business without going the brick-and-mortar bakery route. Then Kristen found Cratejoy. “I was shopping for a Christmas present (for me),” she laughs. Looking through the Cratejoy Marketplace, she found a fair number of baking boxes, but none that quite matched her individual needs. “That sparked the idea for BEL Box,” she says. “After a little digging, I was impressed by how much Cratejoy offered.”
Nick, now a project manager, was all too happy to support Kristen in achieving her dream. In fact, the two of them run the business together! The couple spent six months diving into business logistics and recipe experimentation, even going so far as to throw dinner parties for taste tests. “We spend months vetting and perfecting recipes,” Kristen admits. It’s not until they perfect several recipes for potential inclusion that they invite friends over for a tasting party. “Each recipe is graded on appearance, taste, and uniqueness.” After tweaking each recipe, “we move on to test boxes. Test boxes help us ensure the difficulty level is right, bakers can create a consistent look, feel, and flavor, and the instructions are clear.”
It’s important to the team behind Bake Eat Love that customers have an opportunity to explore new adventures in baking -- and, generally, have fun. “Recipes feature specialty ingredients, like lavender extract, and highlight creative flavor combinations,” Kristen says. In addition, every box includes a specialty tool for the kitchen, as well as links to video tutorials and more. Bake Eat Love, Kristen says, seeks “to leave you feeling more adventurous, accomplished, and excited for the next box!”
We’re already excited to see November’s delicious chai tea latte cupcakes, and we can’t wait to see more about December’s candy cane whoopie pies!
Vanessa Perry, the founder of entrepreneurship subscription Belladonna Box, knows how hard it is to launch a business. “I’m very passionate about helping others and I love every aspect of business,” she tells us. In addition to serving in the U.S. Army, this veteran-turned-military spouse also ran her own “successful handmade business” for several years. “During that time, I was helping more and more people with their businesses and realized I thoroughly enjoyed it!” she says. Hence: Belladonna.
“I want my customers to know that real, action-based learning material and guidance is available to them,” Vanessa says. In her time as a brick-and-mortar entrepreneur, she learned that taking advantage of all the spare moments she had -- whether to devote to personal development or to self-care -- was key to growing her business. It’s not easy starting your own business, especially if you work a full-time job during the day or have a growing family. “The busy boss babe shouldn’t have to miss interactive webinars because she’s busy,” Vanessa says. “The bootstrapping female entrepreneur shouldn’t have to figure it out on her own because she can’t afford the paid offers and coaching calls.”
To accommodate the usual barriers of time and cost that can dissuade some bootstrappers from going after their entrepreneurial dreams, Vanessa takes a back-to-basics approach to Belladonna’s product curation. Instead of password-protected, time-sensitive webinars or pay-gated materials, Belladonna’s personal development experience is (mostly) analog; every month comes with a thoughtful, action-based workbook (including at least 2 motivational modules), a book on self-help or personal development, and 3-5 unique, fun products to cheer up their workspace, keep them feeling inspired, and help them find much-needed balance with a self-care routine. Naturally, Belladonna’s “products are sourced primarily from small female-owned businesses,” Vanessa says.
However, spa treats and aromatherapy candles are not always enough to make self-care stick -- without a community, even the bossest of boss babes could become discouraged. “[H]aving experienced the loneliness of entrepreneurship, I think it’s important they will have a tribe that can turn to for support and encouragement,” Vanessa tells us. So every subscriber to Belladonna Box receives an invitation to a members-only Facebook community, where they can talk with other entrepreneurs on business advice, solidarity, and more. “Learning should be affordable and fun,” Vanessa says. “They shouldn’t have to struggle or miss out on learning opportunities because they’re not affordable. We all start somewhere and I am here to help them.”
Vanessa, we couldn’t agree more. We can’t wait to see the businesses that grow from Belladonna Box in the future!