1083
8 min 36 sec

Boxing Up the Best of Handmade Nashville

Three friends put the work of Nashville makers and bakers in front of an eager online audience, making some serious cash from the effort.
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What It's About

Three friends batch together to highlight the best of Nashville.

Business Model
Product
Skills Required
Organization & Marketing
Complexity
Medium
Profit Potential
Medium

Words of Wisdom

The subscription models works for both physical and digital products, as well as for services. Could it work for you?

Fun Fact

These days you can get subscription services for products from lingerie to decorative pins to succulents to single-malt scotches (and the list goes on), but the model isn’t something that was built on the back of a laptop attached by a bootstrap. Subscription publication of books dates all the way back to the 17th century. Later, a variant: Mark Twain had his canvassers travel the country with a prospectus (also called a “sales dummy”) with excerpts and illustrations from his unpublished books to tally orders and see if publishing would be profitable. Much later came along the Book of the Month club. And now, designer clothing by subscription. What’s next?

Notes from Chris

Episode 1083
How can you take a hyper-local business and make it go national? You focus on the right market (that would be the local part), the right partners and vendors, and the right offer. This perfect match exists in a curated network of 300 small Nashville businesses, all of which were recruited to take part in a massively successful subscription box service … bringing in more than $2 million a year starting with just a domain and simple website, since the first orders came in before they purchased any inventory.

It’s called Batch, and it came to be through the efforts of three friends, Sam Davidson, Stephen Moseley and Rob Williams. The three friends appreciated the quality of handcrafted Nashville products, from kitchen to bath to cabin, but saw there was no one-stop-shop to gobble up these goods.

They decided to create a subscription-based e-commerce hustle that was booted up without needing much of a boot: again, they had almost no startup costs because they pre-sold subscriptions, so the cash was already there before needing any initial outlay. And since they came from marketing and branding backgrounds, pitching the products and designing packaging and site descriptions didn’t require any outsourced help.

The “Batch” name came from their first subscription packages, which offered four Nashville-made items a month. The partners were surprised when they hit 200 subscriptions right away—and then 600 the next and 1,000 after that. One key that unlocked a bigger cash box was a subscription recipient asking about how his company could send Nashville-centric gifts—voila! The birth of the corporate gift option, which soon went from an afterthought to their primary business model.

But hold that thought; let’s look more at these actual subscription boxes. Lucky recipients might get packages that include chocolates, popcorn, shortbread, toffee, coffee, pancake mix, honey, bath and body goods, a Nashville-labeled hand towel—all high-quality, all with handsome packaging, all locally produced. There are some Southern nods in the names, like the “Thanks Y’all” gift box. Looking at the range of their pleasure-producing products, it’s no wonder their website logo reads “Handcrafted Handpicked Happiness.” There’s also a Build Your Own Batch option if you simply have to have pickled asparagus with your bourbon cherries and some homemade marshmallows thrown in. The corporate options include the specific company’s branding on boxes and cards and gift wrap.

Pairing that corporate component with offering the à la carte items (also a result of customer inquiries), opening a retail store stocked with the full range of Nashville’s finest handmade goods vaulted the three friends higher into the realms of multi-channel sales. That’s correct, the three partners went from subscription service to actual retail store.

At some point in the process, the partners learned a key fact: 90% of purchases are gifts: recipients often end up buying something for a friend or client. “The gift that keeps on giving” really is true.

Their social media efforts now focus mostly on Instagram and Facebook, mixing Nashville photos and facts and product and store photos. They have plans to improve their systems to scale, looking at replicating the Nashville model in other cities.

So, if you’ve got a hankering for Hot Chicken Crackers, or maybe some artisanal Soberdough Beer Bread mix, you may want to request a box from Batch.

 
  MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE:

  • Batch: Learn more about Batch and their gift offerings on their website.
  SEE ALSO:

Yours in the revolution,

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Resources

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Quote of the Day
"It's been great to work with, help, and support so many other entrepreneurs (and side hustlers). We've worked with 200+ other small businesses to market and resale their items as part of our gift line."
—Sam Davidson #SideHustleSchool

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To infinity and beyond,

Chris Guillebeau