Ep. 40: Building a Successful Subscription Box Business with Julie Ball of Subscription Box Basics

June 28, 2023
Julie Ball Headshot

Meet Julie:

Julie Ball is your Subscription Box Business Coach! She is the Founder of Sparkle Hustle Grow, an award winning multi-six figure subscription box and online community for female entrepreneurs. After six years and sending over 65,000 boxes, she sold the business in August 2022. Through her coaching programs, podcast and book, she has helped hundreds of aspiring subscription box business owners get their box idea off the ground.

If you love your work and NOT your website and are ready to grow and scale your business go to laurakamark.com to find out how I can help bring your vision to life.
Full Episode Transcript

Laura Kåmark [00:00:01]:

Hey everyone. Welcome to the Be Bold, Make Waves podcast, a show bringing you inspiring stories of women who are growing and scaling their business. I’m your host, Laura Kåmark, a website and tech integration specialist who works with online business owners who love their work and not their website. Join me as we have incredible conversations about business mindset, product divide, and of course, the website and tech behind the business. Let’s go ahead and dive in to this week’s episode. Hello and welcome to today’s show. For those of you who don’t already know me, I’m Laura Kåmark, website and tech automation specialist for women who love their work but not their website. I am so incredibly excited for my guest today, Julie Ball. Julie is your subscription box business coach. She is the founder of Sparkle Hustle Grow, an award winning, multiple six figure subscription box and online community for female entrepreneurs that I was a member of for years. It was so good. After six years and sending over 65,000 boxes, she sold the business in August of 2022. Through her coaching programs, podcast, and book, she has helped hundreds of aspiring subscription box business owners get their box idea off the ground. Julie, thank you so much for being on the show today. Can you tell our listeners just a little bit about how you got here today? Like, what was your journey like?

Julie Ball [00:01:32]:

I’m here. Finally. Yay. Thank you for having me on the podcast. This is a long time coming. A little bit about my background. Originally from Pittsburgh, but now live in the Blue Ridge mountains of western North Carolina. And I’m a corporate dropout. And so I did ten years in corporate before I left to be a stay at home mom. And during that time, when I was a stay at home mom, I had my daughter in 2011. I felt like I needed to do things in the naps and the nights and the weekends to still fuel that fire of business, of empowerment for women. And so at that time, I launched a small agency, all female agency, to build websites and do tech and social media for other small businesses. Fast forward to 2016 is when I launched my subscription box business. And I started that as a side hustle. I did not think it was going to be anything, but once I got 100 subscribers, I realized this thing has legs. And then nine months in, I was able to replace my full time income. So I was sold on the model, the recurring revenue model. It literally changed the trajectory of my family’s life. And so here we are. Last year I sold my business. Now I do coaching and I’ve been doing coaching for a while. So my coaching program is called Subscription Box Basics. If you like podcasts, you’ll love that one.

Laura Kåmark [00:02:58]:

I love that so much. I remember watching your journey. We were both in a group together, a bigger group, the boss Bomb Group with Dana Mall staff. And I remember watching your journey as you got it started and got it off the ground. And it was so fun to just watch it as it evolved. And it was actually, I believe, November of 2018 where I was like, I want this. I want to get my subscription box. I have like one of my favorite things that’s right here. That is the bloom. It’s like a daily calendar with inspirational and it’s evergreen, which I love. And it’s like my favorite thing ever. It was just this great box, and I love being a part of that. And it’s been such an amazing community, and I just love that. And then it was so inspiring seeing that you when you sold the business and also really watching the coaching side of things, I was just so inspired. Subscription box was not something I was interested in getting into, so I only followed it from a distance. But I’ve heard from some of the other people who’ve been through it and the journey and the transformation they’ve had, what would you say kind of triggered the coaching piece of it? I love hearing about where that sort of AHA moment came.

Julie Ball [00:04:07]:

So there’s kind of two parts of it. One is I just kept getting asked, can I pick your brain? I feel like that’s how a lot of coaches start out. So that’s the one side of it. That’s the easy side to talk about. The other side to talk about, if I can get a little bit vulnerable here is my husband was in a toxic teaching career, and it was physically, mentally toxic. I mean, black mold in the break room. So you can imagine how bad this was. He would come home with nothing left for us, and you could just tell he wasn’t happy. And so, you know, how your why can change from time to time at that moment, my why was very clear on we needed to bring him home somehow from this teaching. We needed him to have a break, to just decompress and figure out his next steps. And so if you’re in the online world, you know, online courses are a big thing, and for good reason, because they’re transformational. And so I found that I kept repeating myself with answers to people when they would ask me, well, how do I get started? Or what do you think about this? And so I just started mapping out a course, found myself a course coach and launched that. And that first launch, we were able to replace half of his income for the whole year. And so we took that leap, and he did not go back to school the next school year. And he took some downtime. While I continued to run kind of the businesses side by side, I was running the subscription box business, Sparkle Hustle Grow. At the same time as I was running the coaching business. And so it was a lot, but it was so worth it. When your why is strong, you figure out where there’s a will, there’s a way.

Laura Kåmark [00:05:52]:

Yeah, I love that so much. And so when you have people coming into your coaching program, is it like, are you doing group coaching? Are they going through the course and it’s self led, or how does that container look?

Julie Ball [00:06:04]:

Yeah, it’s a very linear step by step course. So it’s self paced. There’s no live components to it, so you can jump in. And I believe that one of the reasons we do that is when an idea hits you, you got to run with it. You don’t need to wait till I launch again, till I launch the course again. You don’t need to wait till all your ducks in a row because spoiler, that’s never going to happen. You’re going to do things imperfectly. And that’s how entrepreneurship works. So we have the course. It takes you through the five stages of your subscription box journey, starting in the idea stage where you’re like, I have an idea now what? Then we take you through the pre launch stage, but we’re not going to leave you high and dry after you’ve launched. We have the post launch stage systems stage and then scaling stage. And then ultimately they outgrow our training if they want to scale that box bigger and bigger. But of course, we have friends and colleagues in the industry that we recommend once they outgrow us. We do have a community because how could I build anything without a community? It’s such an important part of things. I feel like it can feel like working on an island when you work from home in a small business. So we have the community component and then we give them live chat support. We have all kinds of other ways to support them through it. So you’re not going to miss anything if you’re at work and you can’t join something live. Because a lot of people start this as a side hustle because it’s their exit strategy.

Laura Kåmark [00:07:35]:

Oh, I love that. What are some of the fun? I love subscription boxes. I have subscribed to so many different ones over the years. Currently, I subscribe to like it used to be a monthly cheese box.

Julie Ball [00:07:48]:

Oh, nice.

Laura Kåmark [00:07:49]:

Yeah, and then they switched it to quarterly it’s through cowgirl creamery. I love it. It’s one of my favorite splurgy luxury things. That just makes me so happy and it felt so good. I started subscribing during the pandemic and I’m like, I’m supporting local business. Yes. And then I also do a monthly candle subscription. That, again, I love. So what are some of the subscription box ideas that have maybe are a little outside of the box?

Julie Ball [00:08:16]:

Yeah, there’s so many boxes that are out there to treat yourself, but I think the ones that are the most successful are the ones that really solve a pain point. And so we have some great boxes that are game changers. So for example, we have a box called when I say we, I’m talking about my Students Resilient Nurse Box. It’s for nurses to help get them be resilient and get them through the hard times. We have one that’s called Passion and Grow, and that is to work on not just self care, but it’s working on your self worth. And there’s affirmations in there. And what if it’s the owner of it low, she told me what if that affirmation is the only positive encouragement they got this month. We’re making a difference in that way. And then there’s other boxes like Black Girl, Math Chick, which helps young girls in middle school with math and the confidence basically helping them to see that they can take math and go to a Stem career and they’re not always getting that in their daily life. And so there’s these boxes that are filling gaps. There’s fun ones, too. Like the Bunny Fun Box. It’s for bun, Mums. So if you have a pet rabbit, it’s a box for you and your pet rabbit to enjoy together. So there’s a little bit of everything. I mean, I could go on and on and on. There’s teacher boxes, there’s all kinds of things, but the ones that solve a pain point for a very specific audience, in my opinion, are the ones that are going to sell the best.

Laura Kåmark [00:09:55]:

I love that so much. That is amazing. I kind of wish I had a bunny. I love when things get so niche and so specific. That does. And again, the Idea Generation, I love all of that piece of it.

Julie Ball [00:10:12]:

They also have the Guinea Pig Fun box.

Laura Kåmark [00:10:15]:

Oh, fun. There’s a bunch of ladies in my I’m in a Mastermind right now and there’s only eleven of us in the Mastermind. And we were just chatting in our little Facebook group and I was like, oh, I want to hear everyone’s fur animals. Like, what does everyone have at home? And we’re like, everyone’s like, cats, dogs. The amount of people that have chickens in that group, it was hilarious. Our coach was just like, I didn’t realize so many people were chicken owners here. I think it was like four or five of them were like, I have chickens. Which out of eleven is pretty much that’s funny.

Julie Ball [00:10:45]:

So is there a Chicken Mom subscription box?

Laura Kåmark [00:10:48]:

That would be the question because that could I might know some people who.

Julie Ball [00:10:52]:

Would next big thing.

Laura Kåmark [00:10:54]:

Interested in that. Like, chickens are huge.

Julie Ball [00:10:56]:

Yes, that’s funny.

Laura Kåmark [00:10:58]:

That’s fun. So I want to talk a little bit about some of the mindset hurdles that being a business owner, being in the online community, kind of taking these jumps and pivots in your business. Can you talk to us a little bit about tell our audience some of the mindset hurdles you’ve come up against and how you’ve sort of pushed through them.

Julie Ball [00:11:18]:

I think one of the biggest one is just taking the leap. That is when you’re at the top of a ski mountain and maybe you’re thinking about going down the hill. It’s all fun once you get started. But getting over the top of the hill is so scary, I feel like. And so when it comes to taking a risk, for whatever reason, maybe it’s the way I’m built, I’m kind of type A. I like taking the risk because I know that I’m going to figure it out on the way down. I don’t have to have it all figured out at the top of the mountain. And so one of the things specifically with subscription boxes is you’re buying inventory way before you can sell it. So with the model, usually a customer is preordering the next box. There are some subscription models where you buy the box, they ship it the next day, but some of them ship monthly and so maybe they ship on the first of the month so you’re preordering. And so as a business owner, as a subscription box business owner, you’re buying products 30, 60, 90 days out, depending on the quantity you need to buy and where it’s coming from, like how long is it going to take to ship. And so that is a huge money mindset hurdle. Once you start getting into your rhythm, there’s this natural rhythm that comes with a membership or a subscription, any sort of recurring model. Once you kind of get into that rhythm. My brain caught onto it and I think that’s something that a lot of new membership or subscription box owners specifically, because we have to buy products, have to really work on, that’s a big challenge in my industry.

Laura Kåmark [00:12:57]:

That makes sense. I mean, I hadn’t really thought about that, but you’re right. I mean, you need to have all that inventory to ship out. So especially that’s an interesting piece of the puzzle in the subscription box business. I’ve also like, as we’ve been talking, I keep remembering all these other boxes that over the years I’ve subscribed to between having two young kids at home and getting activity boxes for them or a different game every three months that would just show up. And I was like, this is great. I know you have one gal in your community.

Julie Ball [00:13:31]:

I think it’s Christina oh with busy minds box.

Laura Kåmark [00:13:34]:

With busy minds. And I’m going to be reaching out to her to come be on the podcast. I was so interested in what she is doing because she has a subscription box, if I understand correctly, that is for people with Alzheimer’s and helping keep their mind busy. And this is incredible and life changing.

Julie Ball [00:13:54]:

Yeah. So she has lots of crafts in there and what’s great is she does demos and she’ll show that too on social media. So maybe the end user might see that. If not, maybe a caregiver will see it and so that they can do it with them. So there’s so many beautiful boxes out there, and I don’t mean beautiful that the box is pretty, but beautiful in what they’re aiming to fix or help or solve. And she is a great example of it.

Laura Kåmark [00:14:22]:

I love that so much, and I love that ripple effect of how this can help make the world better and make things better and make people’s lives better. It’s not just about like, the fun little frilly boxes that I know. I get a lot of time. Like there are things out there that are helping change everything.

Julie Ball [00:14:39]:

I love that we talk about that a lot, that it’s no longer a good model to just send a box of stuff. You’re really sending an experience. So how do we get them to use the products? How can we bring value through maybe community or other experiential factors? And I see that as a trend in the industry, that we’re creating more experiences versus just sending a box of tools or a box of good, fun stuff.

Laura Kåmark [00:15:08]:

Yeah. What would you say when people come to you? We were talking about this a little bit before we started recording. When your students first come to you, are they usually like, I want to create this huge empire or are they more, I want to help contribute to the household? What kind of people are your students? What are they looking to create in the world?

Julie Ball [00:15:26]:

That’s a good question. We do serve a wide variety, but I’d say the most of them that are attracted to our model, they’re going to be sort of this anti hustle, but they know how to work hard. And I believe that you get to define what the hustle means to you, and it’s going to change from season to season. We like to work hard, but we also like to play hard. If we’re not having fun, then I don’t want to be a part of it. That’s just part of our core values. So we work with a lot of moms specifically, who maybe their kids are in elementary school now and they have a little time on their hands during the day, but they don’t want to go back to the corporate world. They still want to have flexibility. We do have some that, again, want to build an empire, and I love that too. We get to define what success means to each of us, and that’s a moving target too. What success looked like to me two, three, four years ago is very different than it looks like now because I have a middle schooler, we’re homeschooling. Five years ago, I didn’t have either of those. So things change along the way. That was one of the reasons that I sold the business too. Last year, we were ready for our next season. And interesting enough, the buyers that our dream buyers that bought Sparkle Hustle grow and are now just nailing it. They’re doing such a good job knocking it out of the park. They also were a family that wanted to run a home based business, but they were ready for their new season. And so I think as long as you keep that in mind, your success may look different in different seasons, but you don’t have to base it off of someone else’s numbers, off of the pace at which they reach those numbers or even what they’re aiming for, because we don’t need to measure up to anybody else. You need to define what it means to you to succeed. Now, that can be practical with your numbers, but that can also be personal about what you want your day to look like and how you want to be able to show up for your family and for your subscribers. So there’s so many moving parts to it, but we like to call it the sweet spot. And again, it starts with practically working backwards into the numbers that you need to hit to pay your bills and then maybe a little bit more if that’s what you’re aiming for. But also that fine balance. It’s never a true equilibrium that work life balance, but again, it’s a moving target. So we help you find that sweet spot and figure out what that looks like for you so that you don’t try to reach for someone else’s goals. Not everybody wants a six figure box. Not everybody wants an empire. And that’s cool because for me that sounds stressful, but for some women, that just fuels their fire and I’m here for it either way.

Laura Kåmark [00:18:18]:

I love that so much. I think that’s such a hard thing in the online space that we all struggle with at some point or another. And I mean, I know I still do it too, sometimes, and I have to rein myself back in when I start doing that comparisonitis. And it’s hard because we see such a little piece of what people are willing to share.

Julie Ball [00:18:36]:


Laura Kåmark [00:18:36]:

And again, like you said, we define what success means to us. What success means for me might not be this. It will not be the same as what it means for you.

Julie Ball [00:18:47]:

Right. And I have a great quote her success is not your failure. Just because someone else is doing really well, that’s not reflecting on you doing poorly. Maybe you’re doing really well for where you’re at in your life right now and where you’re at in your business. It’s no reflection back and forth. So just keep your eye on your own prize.

Laura Kåmark [00:19:09]:

It’s proof that you can do it too. That’s another good mindset reframe on that as well. Yeah, the comparison I was saying, I find that coming up again and again and again when I’m talking to my business friends. That’s the thing that it’s so hard. Do you have any how do you get past that? It sounds like you have such a great focus on. I am in my lane. I know what I’m doing. I know where I want to go. How do you stop yourself when you start feeling that comparisonitis?

Julie Ball [00:19:40]:

Well, I talk to my friends. It’s definitely not something I’m immune to. It’s been in my life as well. I think it also helps that I ran a subscription box for personal development for six years. So I went through a lot of books, a lot of training, but I honestly have had when I’m having a moment of where I’m feeling less than because I’m not measuring up in my eyes or whatever, I put that quote on my phone. I have it as a screen saver, believe it or not. And so I think we need to remind ourselves oftentimes, her success does not equal your failure, and get your eyes refocused back on your own prize and have conversations. So right before we sold the business, I had a conversation with my husband and my daughter. Because we’re a unit, we decide what our life looks like together. It’s not all on me. And so having that conversation with them helps having a small group of business besties that you can be 100% vulnerable with and say, hey, this is how I’m feeling today. I need either a pep talk or Hype Squad. I need something like somebody even the cheerleader needs a cheerleader, so I need people to pour back into me, too. So I’ve been very intentional about creating a support system, and I think every small business owner needs that. I think everybody in life needs that. And so I definitely lean into them, and I have learned to open up more when I’m struggling.

Laura Kåmark [00:21:11]:

Oh, I love that. I know for me in the online space especially, it took me a long time to kind of find my tribe, find my people, find my support system. I started my business kind of unexpectedly because I was laid off when I was pregnant for my super secure, quote unquote right corporate job. And so I was kind of thrown into new motherhood, and let’s figure out how to make a business online at the same time. And so that was in 2015, and it wasn’t until more like 2020 there was a program I joined, and that was where I finally found my people. And some of those ladies that I’ve met in there, there’s a group of four of us in a Voxer Chat, and we talk every day. I do a check in with them, and we were in a Mastermind back in 2021 together, and then we’re in a Mastermind again right now. Some of them are the chicken people, and it’s so important to have that support system. Do you have any advice for someone who is in the online space and they’re listening to us talk about this right now, and they’re like, I don’t have that support system. How can someone go find that? Where have you found your support system.

Julie Ball [00:22:25]:

I think it’s about finding mentors that are in alignment with your values. That’s why Renee and I on our podcast, she’s my podcast co host. We really open up about who we are. It’s funny because once I started sharing what I’m truly like and letting people in on who’s Julie Ball, they started connecting with me more. And I randomly okay, so I really love boy bands, and I have since I was ten. And I will have people randomly reach out to me and be like, oh, I heard step by step in the grocery store today and it made me think of you. And that’s such a silly example. But when I became more vulnerable about what my core values are and what it’s like to hang out with me, it really started attracting my tribe. And so from the flip side, if you’re looking for that, start asking colleagues, start asking people in your industry about who are the best mentors in the space that you’re at. And a lot of times you will find those close relationships once you’re in some sort of container. And by that I mean a Mastermind or a course that has a Facebook community. But you’re not going to do it by lurking, just sitting back and watching it all happen. You have to give as much as you take, if not more. Give more than what you take. And so it’s again, I think finding the mentors that align with your core values and what you believe in as a whole, and that’s going to attract the right people to them. And so you can find a lot of that there, but never get in a space where you’ve got your blinders on. You want to be in a space where there’s diversity of thought, diversity of the actual people in there. So that would be my advice, is to look for mentors, but don’t get in an echo chamber.

Laura Kåmark [00:24:18]:

Yes. Oh, I love that so much. And I think that’s such fantastic advice. I know, like, I value so much the gals who and I have, I have my Mastermind gals and I have other friends and colleagues who I connect with and I try to check in with. I see how they’re doing and just really keep in touch and build those relationships. Because again, for me, the thing that changed the most was when I started really being more intentional about the relationships I was building in the online space and really just deeply connecting with people. And that is where I saw the biggest change in my business, for sure. I would love to kind of switch gears a little bit and talk about tech. As a website and tech person, I love hearing about other people’s tech stack. I love hearing about some of the tech hurdles, too, because I feel like, again, in this little online space, we see these super successful launches and people don’t always talk about like, yeah, I launched when I launched my DIY website launch kit. And I’d been building up on my email list and was like, it’s coming soon, it’s coming soon. And I was like, here it is. And I forgot to include the link to the sales.

Julie Ball [00:25:21]:

Oh no.

Laura Kåmark [00:25:24]:

I immediately got a reply from, luckily, like, one of those people that are like, I hope you don’t have a heart attack when you read this. But there was no link. I’m like, It’s fine, it’s okay, it happens.

Julie Ball [00:25:35]:

Nobody’s perfect.

Laura Kåmark [00:25:36]:

Nobody’s perfect. So I would love to hear it. Can we talk a little bit about the tech behind your business? What do you use for a website?

Julie Ball [00:25:44]:

So do you want to talk about subscription businesses or my coaching business?

Laura Kåmark [00:25:47]:

I want to talk about your coaching business because that’s what you’re actively doing now.

Julie Ball [00:25:51]:

Okay, I use Kajabi. I love Kajabi. It’s pretty all in one for us. We don’t use it to host our podcast. We use Buzz Sprout for that. But we switched to Kajabi in January of this year and we really like it. I have used a couple of other softwares in the past, but I was just tired of connecting to other softwares or the risk of I love Zapier, but the more connections you have and the more different softwares you have, the higher risk of something breaking. And so I was really tired of that and I just wanted something all in one, and so I went with Kajabi. I really like it. I was able to build the website on my own. I’m not a graphic designer, but over the years I’ve learned enough in using Canva. I’ve learned enough from a I perspective of seeing like, what fits well, what is what’s helpful for end users from top to bottom, working on the website or reading through the website. And I’ve had so many assets throughout the years that I was able to piece it together myself, which was very satisfying, but it took a long time because I was learning a new platform. But I embraced that. So we use that. I’m trying to think of what other tech we use for the coaching business. We recommend a lot of different softwares for running subscription boxes, but for the coaching side of it, yeah, we use oh, I know one. I love this. Have you heard of tidycal?

Laura Kåmark [00:27:22]:


Julie Ball [00:27:23]:

It’s on AppSumo, which, if your listeners don’t know, is a marketplace for software. And Tidy Cow is like a calendar management tool. So, for example, if you are going to book on my podcast, I have a scheduling link for that. If we’re going to do a coffee chat, I have a scheduling link for that. So the good thing about Tidy Cow is it is a lifetime deal. Like, you buy it once. I think I spent like 30 or $40 on it and it is amazing. I don’t pay for it month after. Month after month, and it is never knock on wood. It has never caused a problem at all. It connects with my Gmail and my calendar and zoom. So it’s this beautiful little marriage of making it very easy to connect with people online and scheduling. I hate that back and forth. So tidy cow.

Laura Kåmark [00:28:20]:

Tidy Cow. That’s good. I’ll look into that. I use Acuity and I use it for years, and I also use it so that I can book like when I do VIP days, they book through and pay through, pay the deposit through Acuity. I’ve used that for years before I had can you do that with Tidy Cow?

Julie Ball [00:28:37]:

You can do that on tidy cow.

Laura Kåmark [00:28:38]:

I’m going to go look. I wonder if it’s still how long ago did you get it on appsuma?

Julie Ball [00:28:42]:

I got it last year, but it’s still on there. I know it is because I just recommended it two days ago to somebody else.

Laura Kåmark [00:28:49]:

Awesome. I will go check that out because yeah, anytime, like the lifetime deals, man, they get me.

Julie Ball [00:28:54]:

I know.

Laura Kåmark [00:28:55]:

I love it because it can be a lot when you have these reoccurring. And I do a lot of things. Once I test out my tech and make sure this is something I want to commit to, I usually give it a couple of months and make sure I’m happy with it. And then I’ll commit to the annual subscription. And I had like four of them just hit this. I try to spread it out over the year, and I don’t know what I did, but for some reason in June, I had a bunch hit.

Julie Ball [00:29:20]:

That happens to me in November because Black Friday, all the software companies have like, a great deal. And so one year I signed up for everything. And so every November I’m like, oh, this is going to hurt.

Laura Kåmark [00:29:32]:

Are you using Kajabi for your email marketing?

Julie Ball [00:29:35]:

Yes, we are awesome. For the whole funnel.

Laura Kåmark [00:29:39]:

Oh, I love it. Yeah. Courtney Ibinger was on the podcast previously, and she is my Kajabi gal who whenever I have anyone who needs any Kajabi help, I send them to Courtney.

Julie Ball [00:29:52]:

She’s nice. Yeah. I feel like I should have done that at the very beginning just to have someone help build a few of the core elements in there. But I figured if I got under the hood and really figured it out, I would be a better business owner for that. And if I ever wanted to outsource that, I would know exactly what was required to get it done. I just didn’t want to do it myself. So I feel like that’s a really great way to do business is to figure some of that stuff out for yourself. Unless it’s really high level, like no chance of figuring it out, then just hire that part. Right. That’s fine to do that. But if I find something that is going to be a long term component of my business. I want to learn a little bit about it before I do outsource it if I plan to.

Laura Kåmark [00:30:41]:

I agree with that so much. I find that all the time just in websites where and I have plenty of clients that they don’t want to touch the tech with the ten foot pole. And I’m like, that’s not fair. I’m still going to create so many training videos to empower you to go in and help the tech because I don’t believe in creating something for a client and then locking it down. Because I’ve had some clients have come to me and they’re like, oh, my past developer, I couldn’t even change a link or an image without their hands were tied. Yeah. I think it’s important for us to understand the back end of our business so much for those reasons, right, that stated. So I love that. What would you say are some of the challenges that you’ve overcome since for starting your business?

Julie Ball [00:31:25]:

A lot of fear. I come from the mindset that it’s okay to be afraid and brave at the same time though. So again, taking that leap, there was this moment I very specifically remember when I first launched my subscription box and my husband Kenny just didn’t quite get it yet. And he knows if I put my steak in the ground and I’m like, I’m going to do XYZ, he knows XYZ is going to happen because I’m going to figure it out. But he just didn’t get it. All he saw were boxes everywhere, crinkle cut on the floor, and me running this little side hustle. And so I sat him down, you’ll probably appreciate this. I sat him down and I said, look at this Excel spreadsheet with me. Here’s what it looks like if I sell 25 boxes. Here’s what it looks like if I sell 250, and here’s what it looks like if I sell 1000 of them. And as he saw that recurring revenue potential each month, and then as he saw as I grew the business, my profit margin would probably improve and what the actual possibilities of my take home pay would be from this, he was all in. He just had to see those numbers. He still might not fully understand how it all works, but by showing him those numbers, that kind of flipped the switch in his head. It’s like, this is a legit business. It’s not passive income. It’s not a quick get rich quick scheme by any means. This is a product based business that takes work each month. But when he saw how the numbers would compound, he was like, oh yes. So that was definitely a challenge was getting his buy in. And a lot of times our spouses may or may not get that whole entrepreneurial mind. A lot of my students either work full time or their husbands work full time and this is their first venture. And so there’s risk involved in that. And so, yeah, that was definitely something that I had to work through. And for that reason, in our course, in our subscription Box Boot camp, we strategically have pep talks right in the right place because we’ve been there. I know when you’re going to need a pep talk. You’re going to need it right before you make a purchase, right before you send your first boxes, right before you announce it to the world. There’s very specific places where you need a pep talk. And so I try to mitigate that with that fear, and we oftentimes get in our own way because we overthink it. So I put those peptops in there for a reason.

Laura Kåmark [00:34:03]:

Oh, I love that. That’s so smart because, yeah, we do. We get in our own way before and recognizing those hurdles, it’s like right before you send those launch emails.

Julie Ball [00:34:12]:

So scary.

Laura Kåmark [00:34:13]:

So scary. Like, ConvertKit used to or not ConvertKit MailChimp, but they would have, like, the monkey and a red button.

Julie Ball [00:34:22]:

Let’s just bring it down a notch, right? Can I make this very easy? Like, how about pink or turquoise with a little saying on it that says, you got this? I’ll click that button.

Laura Kåmark [00:34:32]:

It was just like, red. Danger. Danger button.

Julie Ball [00:34:37]:

Oh, my gosh. They probably didn’t realize the mindset that they were creating around that.

Laura Kåmark [00:34:42]:

I had a client that she was on MailChimp for a long time, and every time before I’d send out her, she would do, like, a newsletter once a quarter, and I would go in and schedule, and it always just made me so nervous. I’m like, why is there this red button?

Julie Ball [00:34:55]:

That’s so funny. Oh, my gosh.

Laura Kåmark [00:34:58]:

Oh, my goodness. I would love to hear a little bit about what are you doing that’s being bold in the industry, how are you doing things different from others?

Julie Ball [00:35:09]:

I think that that conversation we had earlier about your own definition of success, that’s been a core message of what we’re telling our audience. I don’t think that it’s fair to assume that everyone wants to hit six figures or seven figures or whatever. I don’t think that’s a fair assessment. And so I want people to know that they can come in and they can be who they want to be. They can set goals big or small. The other thing that I think is bold right now, too, is I don’t know about other industries. In the software industries, I feel like they talk about selling and mergers and acquisitions and stuff like that. But in the subscription box industry, I swear, the only conversation is launch a box or like, let’s scale it to an empire. And I love having the conversation that you might not know why you’re starting this box or what you’re going to do with this box in the end. It’s probably not you probably haven’t figured out your exit strategy yet, but let’s talk about that now because I’m lucky enough to have gone through that, and I can talk from experience about what that feels like. And I was afraid to tell people that I was selling Sparkle Hustle Grow because it was a very personal brand at the time. I was very much the face of it, and we started kind of phasing my face out of a lot of the marketing. But I think it’s bold to be having these conversations about, it’s okay if you want to sell your subscription box, or it’s okay if you’re in a new season and you need to shut it down, that’s okay too. I would encourage you to pursue selling it because what you’ve built is something of value. But it’s not just about launching. It’s not just about scaling. It can be about one or the other or both. But what about selling? It’s okay to be having those conversations. Once I sold my box and I started telling people, I was filled with just people being excited for me and cheering me on. But I created this narrative in my head that people were going to make me feel bad about selling something that was so very much me, that was my baby. In hindsight, I can see it clear, but when I was going through it, I was we was carrying a lot on that on my shoulders. And so I love having the conversations about, what are you going to do with this box one day? You don’t have to know that right now, but is this going to be a legacy brand that you’re going to pass along to your children or maybe, have you thought about selling? So Renee and I, again my podcast co host, we just spoke on stage at Subsummit last month, and it was all about what it was like to sell your subscription box business. And so I really encourage people to have conversations about the whole view of what it looks like to be a business owner, and it doesn’t stop at launch. There’s so much excitement beyond that. And we were able to use the profits of selling that business to launch a new project. And so it doesn’t mean that I can’t be in subscription boxes anymore, but it’s just our next season. So I love the space that I’m in now. It’s super fun to empower other women to start their own boxes, but I love having the conversation and being bold enough to talk about what it looks like to sell, too.

Laura Kåmark [00:38:26]:

I love that. What was kind of the timeline on that from when you guys decided you wanted to sell and then to it coming to fruition?

Julie Ball [00:38:35]:

It was about a year. I started getting that gut feeling, the summer of 2021 of, okay, what’s next for me? What’s next for this business? And so naturally, I started investigating, what does it look like to sell a business? I started under the radar, asking questions, reaching out to some people, and then it was early. I think it was March of 2022. I had released a twelve episode podcast called A Better Way to Hustle. And this was just attacking the whole, like, 24 7365, toxic hustle culture and trying to get women to think about what does hustle mean to you? Like, you can still use the word, say the word, be the word, but it’s in your own version. So it was about finding your business besties. Work hard, play hard, all these different components. And I swear, after I released that podcast series to the world, it was like therapy for me. As soon as it was over, I was like, I know, I’m ready to sell now. I have emotionally gone through what I needed to go through between the research, like the practical research, the therapeutic recording of this podcast, and then speaking with my family, candidly about it, and we all decided that selling was the best bet for us, like, the best next step. We didn’t have it all planned out. We didn’t know what our next season looked like. But again, that was one of those risks. So I did find a broker because I didn’t know what I didn’t know. There was too much to lose for me to get this wrong. I’m scrappy, so I’m used to figuring things out. But this was one of those things where I was like, okay, this is a legal transaction. This is over in my head, I don’t know how this works. So I did get a broker. And once it listed, and we didn’t list it with the brand name, we listed it with details about the box, everything but the brand name. 91 days from listing to closing. It was wild. The craziest summer of due diligence. Diligence that I’ve ever been through. It was no joke, but it was so worth it. And we were lucky enough to find our dream buyers, so it felt really good to kind of pass that along, to train them, to wish them well. And we’re still friends. In fact, when we were at Subsummit last month, the new owner, Carol Her, and her husband bought the business. She was on stage with us, and so it felt very full circle.

Laura Kåmark [00:41:06]:

I love that. And I love that you were able to find a buyer that, again, made it feel full circle, and it felt really good. Like, that, I think, is just kind of the icing on the cake.

Julie Ball [00:41:15]:

Yeah. And when you’re selling a business, you have a choice. You don’t have to sell to someone that you don’t think is the right buyer. You know what I mean? So I think that’s one of the things I learned was it was okay to say no to a buyer as well as say yes to a buyer. And what was really cool was I got to meet all the potential buyers on a zoom call and kind of they would get to know me I would get to know a little bit about them, why they’re looking to buy the business, and I would tell my why I’m selling. And it was such a great vetting process, but when you work with a broker, you don’t have any tire kickers on those calls. She had already vetted them to make sure that it was financial like, that the finances were available to buy the business and that they were legit. Like, she had already had these calls with them, and so she brings them to me, a very good place where it’s like, okay, we’re serious about this potential business. Let’s have a conversation. And so it was a really interesting process to it.

Laura Kåmark [00:42:17]:

Oh, thank you for sharing all that. That’s fascinating information. I personally haven’t heard a lot of stories in the online space. There’s a few others that I’ve listened to on podcasts when people have sold their blog or something like that.

Julie Ball [00:42:30]:


Laura Kåmark [00:42:31]:

It’s fascinating because, yeah, we have these online businesses. You actually have a product based business, and so it was very different from just the online space. But, yeah, you can sell that. That’s an asset that you’ve created, and I love that so much. Julie, I could talk to you all day. This is so much fun where the time went. I do have one final question that I ask everyone who comes on the show, and that is, what is one piece of advice you would give to one of our listeners that would help them be bolder, be louder, and make waves in their business?

Julie Ball [00:43:07]:

Definitely. I would say what I said a little bit earlier about it’s okay to be scared and brave at the same time. I can’t tell you I’ll be, again, vulnerable. I get so nervous before I take a stage, but I know once I get up there, I’m fine. And what’s the worst that could happen if I mess up, it’s okay. I’m still here to talk about it. And so I guarantee you that 99% of the mentors that you follow also are being brave and scared out of their pants at the same time. That is just very normal. And so if you’re in this place where you’re afraid to take action I heard this great exercise from one of my mentors, Christy Wright, and she said, do the what if exercise. Just take a piece of paper, put a line down in the middle of it. What if I fail? What if I succeed? And it’s very likely that once you fill out both sides, it’s not as big a deal or as scary as you think it would be. And if you’re still alive and kicking at the end, come on. You will not know unless you try. So it’s okay to be brave and scared at the same time.

Laura Kåmark [00:44:28]:

I love that. I think that’s fabulous advice. Julie, thank you so much for coming on the show today. Can you tell our listeners where they can come find you, hang out with you, where you’re at.

Julie Ball [00:44:36]:

You are most definitely. I’m on Facebook and instagram at subscription box basics. That’s also the name of the podcast. And if this is something that you’re seriously thinking about and you’re like, okay, how do I know if I want to start a subscription box or what’s involved? We do have a free on demand video training that we offer too, and that’s subscriptionboxbasics.com launch.

Laura Kåmark [00:45:00]:

Wonderful. I will link all that up in the Show Notes. Thank you so much for coming on the show today. This was such a fun conversation.

Julie Ball [00:45:07]:

Yeah, thanks for having me. Your energy is contagious. I appreciate that. And yeah, I cannot wait to connect with some of your listeners.

Laura Kåmark [00:45:16]:

Thanks so much for listening to this week’s episode. Be sure to check out the Show Notes at laurakamark.com/podcast. And if you’re ready to turn your website into a marketing machine, get more sales, save time, and simplify the back end of your business. Grab my free resource Power integrations for your website. Head on over to Laurakamark.com/power. If you enjoyed today’s episode, make sure to subscribe. And also, I’ll just love you forever if you leave me a review, it helps get this podcast in front of other people that can help inspire. Thanks so much for listening. I’ll see you next week. Bye now.

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hey, i’m laura

I’m a web designer and tech integrator for female business owners who love their work but NOT their website. When you have big visions for your business I help bring them to life. 

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