“When you’re single, you don’t always receive gifts,” said Jonathan as he reflected on his life as a single father. Fresh out of business school and dissatisfied with the corporate world, he decided to start SinglesSwag – a subscription box that empowers women (single or not) and sends them a collection of carefully curated goods, from organic beauty products and artisan foods down to bestselling books and positive messages.
Within a year of starting SinglesSwag, Jonathan has had over 12,000 paid customers, has generated over $1.5 million in revenue, and was featured in big-name media channels like Cosmopolitan and USA Today. SinglesSwag’s subscriber base has grown almost sixfold in just the past six months and has experienced an average month-to-month growth rate of 63% over the past year.
The Humble Beginnings
SinglesSwag started with a feeling: the feeling of receiving a gift. Jonathan sought to capture that joy and allow people to give a gift to themselves. With the idea in mind, he started doing research. “Initially, I had the idea to release SinglesSwag for men AND women. But after some research, I realized subscription commerce was almost entirely women and men would be a bit more complicated.”
Like with any business, starting SinglesSwag wasn’t easy. “In the beginning, I was literally up until four in the morning manually following influencers on Instagram and liking Facebook pages,” Jonathan explains. “It was a lot of hard work, but thanks to that we were able to scale, and now we’re getting hundreds of followers every day.”
Growth via Influencer Marketing
Through it all, Jonathan reflected fondly on his growth. “One of the things I’m most proud of is that I was able to build this thing while I had another job. While I had a son. I wasn’t in the financial position not to have another income. It was really hard, but it was so worth it.”
Jonathan did a particularly good job with influencer marketing. Growth efforts initially started with long nights sitting in front of a glowing screen and individually liking pages, but eventually led to partnerships with powerful influencers, like women who had been on The Bachelor.
“We started partnerships with relatively small influencers. Those that had about 25 thousand followers. After that went well, we began working our way up, reaching out to influencers with 50 to 100 thousand followers. Today, we work with accounts with at least 500 thousand followers, often in the millions.”
Despite never hiring a PR firm, Jonathan has spent a fair amount of time in the public eye. “SinglesSwag was featured on the Today Show all because I sent them a free box. We got a lot of our magazine and news media presence that way as well. When you work your way up to big-name influencers, PR and customers tend to flow in organically.” Today, SinglesSwag’s social media channels boast a hefty following, with over 313,000 followers on Instagram and over 359,000 on Facebook.
When SinglesSwag started, it was like any other side hustle. Jonathan was packing boxes at his house with friends and family. Once his influencer efforts took off, he was able to move to a fulfillment center around the time he hit the 400-subscriber mark.
What advice do you have for budding subscription box entrepreneurs?
Despite all the success Jonathan has experienced, he says could have done better with data.
“If there’s one thing I didn’t do a good job of, it’s focusing on data. Most of my decisions were based on intuition. I don’t think that’s a sustainable approach. If we are going to scale, we have to start using data to make important decisions.”
Today, Jonathan relies heavily on data from Instagram to identify his target markets and influencers in the space.
The other thing Jonathan did was take the time to learn. He spent a lot of time learning about subscription commerce, researching the big players and finding out what works and what doesn’t. “There is no substitute for hard work. I watched webinars from Subscription School. I read the resources on Cratejoy’s blog. I tried learning everything I could, and new sellers should too. Use and take advantage of the resources available.”
Jonathan also touched on collaboration. “Discuss your ideas with other people and let them pick it apart, but stick to your gut. If I had executed [SinglesSwag] differently, I don’t think I would have had the same success.”
With that being said, he says he learns a lot from his employees. “I rely on my employees. Many of them come from my target demographic (women 25 – 34). I learn from them constantly and that’s really humbling.”
What’s next for SinglesSwag?
Jonathan has said that he has received a lot of inquiries from men. While he hopes to roll out a subscription box for men in the near future, he needs to scale first. But overall, he says running SinglesSwag has been one of the best things to happen to him. “I enjoy being a business owner. It’s the most rewarding thing I’ve done in my life. It has opened up a lot of opportunities and I have the confidence to pursue anything I want to do,” Jonathan said with enthusiasm.
“A lot of the time when people hear that there’s a guy behind SinglesSwag, they think it’s disingenuous. But I didn’t grow up with the nicest things. I grew up with a single mom, and now I’m a single dad. I know what it’s like. Starting SinglesSwag has allowed me to be in a different position and share that with others.”
And Jonathan is doing a lot in that new position. This year, Jonathan expects to break $5 million in revenue. “In some ways, we haven’t even scratched the surface. I hope we can continue to grow. When I first started, I was extremely excited and impressed by 100 followers. Then we got a thousand and then ten thousand. There’s so much exciting potential.”
Every day, Jonathan and his team send a message of encouragement: a message of happiness and empowerment with every box that they send out to subscribers and influencers alike. Letting everyone know that they can love themselves. And what’s a better gift than that?