Meet Francesca and Namrata, two graduate students in the Feliciano School of Business who are the girl bosses that created The Box Shoppe. United by their mission to promote wellness to on-the-go women, Francesca and Namrata created the T.O.M. (Time of Month) subscription box by curating all-natural and organic products to empower women to make self-care a priority. Order your own T.O.M. box and be sure to check out The Box Shoppe blog for tips to help you thrive while you’re on your period.
HC: How did you meet and what inspired you to start a business together?
We met through our online MBA program at Montclair State University! We were assigned a group project together in our very first semester and clicked. We started hanging out outside of school and talked a lot about how we both always wanted to pursue something outside of our 9 to 5 jobs and call something our own. We both appreciated each other’s work ethic and knew that if we worked together to create something, the final product could be really great. In essence, we also wanted to take what we were learning in class and apply it to something that we started from scratch. Overall, we knew we’d make a good team!
HC: What inspired you to create a product for women’s health?
We came up with the idea of The Box Shoppe, and the T.O.M. Box because we wanted to make organic feminine hygiene products more affordable, enjoyable and easily accessible. Getting your period can often be a struggle, involving a lot of last-minute shopping trips for products. To add, many of these over-the-counter or drug store products contain harsh chemicals and the products themselves are not even approved by the FDA! This is why we sought out the best of the best all-natural and organic products on the market. This is how the T.O.M. Box came to be. Plus, menstruation and feminine hygiene is considered such a taboo, and we really wanted to shed light on such an important and natural topic.
HC: How do you curate the items in your boxes?
Each T.O.M. Box is completely customizable in terms of pads and tampons. We give our customers the option to choose from regular or super tampons, regular and super pads or a combination of each. All boxes come standard with Good Wipes for Down There, a Busy Beauty Body Wipe, a Rael Herbal Heating Patch, a Zit Sticka and cleaning kit and complimentary Rael Panty Liners. We wanted to give our customers the ability to customize the number of pads and tampons they receive (as well as what type), because each and every period is different.
For customers interested more in purchasing only a handful of our products, we are now offering many of our products on an individual basis! This includes purchasing wipes and heat patches in larger quantities or extra pads and tampons. This is a great option for the girls who may need a few extras up their sleeve!
HC: What has been your biggest challenge with starting your own business?
Like any new endeavor, there are several challenges when starting your own business. Some of the small issues included things like figuring out how many products to order, choosing vendors, ensuring that we love the products and making sure our customers’ expectations are met. Reaching your target market could also be a challenge when first starting out. Personally, we wanted to reach college aged females and thanks to organizations like Her Campus, we were able to do that! Finances are also a challenge, especially as students – starting your own business means large out-of-pocket costs. Our only advice for this is…budget budget budget! Other challenges include being on the same page when it comes to tackling issues and balancing other responsibilities. While starting a business with two founders could be difficult in terms of agreeing on smaller details, it’s also great because two perspectives are better than one! It is common to disagree, but it is less common to come to a mutual conclusion that works. Lucky for us, we are always able to find a way to overcome our challenges together.
HC: As two successful female entrepreneurs, what is your best advice for balancing work, school and running a business?
We think that finding a good balance between work, school, personal responsibilities and running a business is key to being successful. We often hear stories about people who put all their energy into their work and miss out on so much. Some apply to people who only focus on going out and avoid all responsibility. Our best advice for this is do not put all your eggs in one basket! Sure, when first starting a business, you definitely need to spend a little more time focusing on what your business needs are. Being in an online education program worked to our benefit, as it saved us from travel time and endless hours in a classroom. We like to schedule the days we focus on school and business outside of our regular working hours. We are lucky that our families and friends are so accommodating of our hectic schedules and give us that support we need to push through. If you’re starting a new endeavor on your own, make sure you always have some time for yourself to reflect on your day, what you got done (and what you didn’t) and prioritize tomorrow. If you are like us and are starting your adventure with a friend, lean on one another! Be open and honest because at the end of the day you’re doing it together and are there for each other.
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