Case Study: How Pipsticks Grew Their Sticker Empire 7.4X in 3 Years

Maureen Mo Vazquez Pipsticks

Since its inception in 2014, Pipsticks has grown from Maureen Vazquez’s brainchild into a full-blown sticker empire.

Pipsticks is a subscription club that sends its subscribers stickers in a custom-designed envelope each month (yes – it’s possible to run a subscription “box” that utilizes envelopes). There are currently three tiers:

  • “Printables” subscription in Kids, Planner, and Pro (Starting at $4.95 each)
  • “Petite” in both Kids and Pro (Starting at $9.95 each)
  • “Classic” in both Kids and Pro (Starting at $14.95 each)

Pipsticks originally launched with Shopify in Fall 2014 and joined Cratejoy in November 2015. Currently boasting a 91% retention rate, a 5-star rating with nearly 100 Cratejoy Marketplace reviews, and an average 11x increase in subscribers year-to-year, Pipsticks continues to scale.

How’d they do it? Keep reading to find out!

Pipsticks Retention Pipsticks Subscriber Growth

Cratejoy is the premier all-in-one subscription eCommerce platform that provides everything you need to start your own subscription box business. Try it free for 14 days!


The Beginning of a Sticker Empire

Self-proclaimed “Head Honcho” of Pipsticks, Maureen, who goes by Mo, always had a creative streak and a love for art. As a child, she avidly collected stickers, and her passion for stickers continued well into adulthood.

Maureen Mo Vazquez Pipsticks
Head Honcho Maureen Vazquez of Pipsticks. Photo credit:

Mo spent years working as a brand manager for an international law firm in London after graduating with a degree in art and graphic design. Later on, she moved to New York with her husband, Nathan. After doing some freelance work, she realized she missed both large-scale project management and the creative aspect of design.

Mo gave birth to her third son, and started toying around with the idea of starting her own business (but what, she didn’t know yet). Around this time, Mo tried to find a sticker subscription for her kids, but all of her searches left her empty-handed. (In 2013, the subscription market mostly comprised of beauty and lifestyle boxes, such as Birchbox and Graze).

This is when Mo got the idea to start her own sticker subscription box business, Pipsticks.

After some research, Mo decided to bite the bullet and set up a LLC for Pipsticks at the beginning of 2014. The best part? Starting Pipsticks fulfilled both the large-scale project management and creative aspect she craved for so long.

Pipsticks Sticker Subscription
Pipsticks sticker assortment. Photo credit:

Beta Test for Beta Results

In June 2014, Mo launched an initial three-month Beta test of Pipsticks using Shopify and the app Recharge. During this time period, she wanted to get as much feedback as possible to iron out any kinks by the projected launch date in September 2014.

Mo decided to create a focus group of 120 friends and her friends’ friends. She sent out free trial boxes in exchange for honest feedback about everything ranging from packaging to curation.

Even with countless hours spent researching the industry and the sticker market, Mo soon realized that the process of running a subscription box was not easy.

“There will always be unexpected costs that you’ll have to work out. Everything either takes longer or is more complicated than you think. It’s also so important to know the timelines around ordering, packing, and fulfillment. I wish I had understood how my website, marketing, and communication all comes into play,” Mo explains.

Pipstick’s Migration From Shopify to Cratejoy

Mo soon realized that the Shopify route wasn’t providing her with everything she and Pipsticks needed to succeed.

Mo recounts: “I first swapped over [from Shopify] because I preferred Cratejoy’s back-end subscription management. With Shopify, everything felt like a work-around solution, which left lots of room for error and required a ton of extra time on our side every time it came time to ship. This also made customer service extremely difficult.”

“With Cratejoy, I like knowing that EVERYTHING about the Cratejoy platform centers around subscriptions and, as such, I don’t have to try to hack a system that is set for traditional ecommerce. Plus, Cratejoy’s customer service team has been so helpful with all of my questions,” Mo says.


Cratejoy Backend Dashboard Seller 2017
Cratejoy’s Dashboard 2017


Cratejoy’s Part in Pipsticks’ Success:

Cratejoy proved to be the answer for Mo’s specific subscription needs. Within one year of joining Cratejoy from November 2015 to November 2016, Pipsticks saw over a 4.2x increase in subscribers, and a 3.2x increase in revenue. More broadly, since making the switch to Cratejoy, Pipsticks has seen a 1679% increase in revenue and a 735.68% increase in subscriber count overall.

Pipsticks Growth Numbers


Mo attributes Pipsticks’ growth to a number of factors, including joining Cratejoy’s all-in-one subscription solution. Cratejoy’s analytics and tools mean that she doesn’t have to go elsewhere for her subscription needs. She especially loves that she has the ability to categorize data and export information efficiently from the all-in-one backend. Being able to quickly track progress and see what her subscription levels are has simplified her life immensely.


Determining and Understanding Pipsticks’ Target Market:

When Mo started running Pipsticks, she thought her primary target market consisted of women like her: moms shopping for stickers as fun rewards and craft supplies for their kids.

During the first few months of Pipsticks’ prelaunch, Mo focused on targeting mommy bloggers and influencers to try to gain traction for her brand. She quickly found that didn’t result in enough conversions to make her efforts cost-effective.

A few months after getting an initial wave of subscribers, she made another profound discovery: the sticker-loving community extended far beyond moms and their kids. Many of her subscribers were adult women age 25-45 who were journaling and planners hobbyists.

Photo Credit:

“I had no idea how big the planner market was,” Mo recounts, “But it was HUGE, and one of the reasons Pipsticks blew up the way it did!”

This realization required Mo to pivot her marketing strategy 6 months into running Pipsticks. She worked quickly to add the Pro Pack, curated specifically for adults, and created more journal- and planner- focused content on her social platforms. Adding the Pro Pack quickly launched Pipsticks into a path of success.


Facebook Ads and Email Acquisition:

Mo’s husband, Nathan, joined the Pipsticks team in late 2014, and his background in numbers and analytics provided Mo with the perfect complement of skills to her creative prowess.

Nathan Vazquez Pipsticks
Nathan Vazquez hard at work and crunching some numbers. Photo credit:

Nathan spearheaded Pipsticks’ Facebook marketing strategy after two unsuccessful experiences hiring digital marketing firms. (“They were expensive, and both did a decidedly worse job than what we could have done ourselves”).

Nathan’s taking over of Pipsticks’ Facebook marketing resulted in immense growth and sales from Facebook ads. In fact, the bulk of Pipsticks’ marketing success comes from their Facebook ads.

“Facebook advertising might have been an investment, but it was definitely worth it for us. A lot of people make the mistake of shutting off their campaigns too soon. You need both time and money to let the campaign run its course and get the best possible results,” Nathan shares.

To read 12 tips from Nathan Vazquez on Facebook Marketing and ads, click here!


Lessons Learned and The Future of Pipsitcks

Though it’s only been three years since Pipsticks started, both Mo and Nathan both quit their jobs to work on Pipsticks full time (which means more time with the four kids!) However, it wasn’t an easy journey, and both learned some important lessons.

Mo and Nathan Vazquez, sticker power couple. Photo credit:

“It’s so crucial to know where your money is. People have no idea where their dollars are being spent or what’s coming in. That becomes an issue as you try to scale,” Nathan says.

Mo notes, “In hindsight, one of the smartest things I did was look at other industries for packaging. We use a plain box that I came across looking at the jewelry industry. It’s way cheaper than, and being creative with packaging saved us a lot of money in the long run.”

Pipsticks continues to actively take feedback to get better and create the best subscription experience possible.

“We’re not just here for the product, we’re here for the experience as well,” Mo explains. “People telling us that they’re the highlight of the month is the best thing. We love to spread the joy of receiving things in the mail! It’s the little things that can make you truly happy.”

Mo in Pipsticks’ Brick and Mortar Store! Photo credit:

Pipsticks recently launched a brick-and-mortar store in Summer of 2017, and Mo can’t wait to see what the future holds for the company. At the moment, Mo can’t predict where Pipsticks will go, but looks forward to continuing spreading joy through Pipsticks.

“It’s crazy to see how far we’ve come, and it still feels like a dream,” Mo says. “I couldn’t be more thankful to be able to do what I love with a team of awesome people.”


Feeling inspired by Pipsticks to start your own subscription box?

Cratejoy is the premier all-in-one subscription eCommerce platform that provides everything you need to start your own subscription box business. Try it free for 14 days!



Karen Li Cratejoy Headshot

About Karen Li

Karen Li: Marketing Specialist at Cratejoy by day, Sticker Aficionado by night.

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