Out of the Box: CampusCube changes the subscription box game

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After searching for a subscription box that satisfies the needs and wants of college students, Laura Irvin decided to think outside of the box.

Subscription boxes allow customers to pay a monthly flat rate to receive a box with an assortment of products. Boxes on the market contain everything from health food and pet supplies to beauty products. Irvin noticed that a significantly large demographic was missing: college students.

Her daughter, a student at Hobart and William Smith College in New York, pitched the idea that led to CampusCube, which launched in mid-August.

Irvin says CampusCube differs from other subscription boxes on the market because the customer knows exactly what goes in each box, while similar companies have an element of surprise. CampusCube handpicks and tests each product that goes into its boxes.

The company also offers separate boxes for girls and guys. The September box contains nine items including personal care products like razors and hair ties, healthy snacks and a reusable water bottle. They strive for organic, natural products made in the United States. The September girls box features a 300-thread count pillowcase emblazoned with the popular catchphrase “I Woke Up Like This” that the CampusCube team designed themselves.

“We didn’t want to do stuff that was over the top girly or macho, if you will, because that’s not really a relevant identification for most young people,” Irvin says. “We kind of played around with the idea for a box that’s totally unisex and we can do it, but it takes a little bit of the fun stuff out.”

She adds that the company rotates the item, such as Modern Oats, a company that purveys gluten-free and non-GMO oatmeal with innovative ingredients like goji berries and chia seeds.

The oats appear in the male counterpart of the September box and Irvin says it will probably show up in the girls box in October.

“It’s a great product and we didn’t see any need to limit that,” she says.

Irvin says the feedback so far has been great and that the team is constantly coming up with new ideas and partnerships. Though she takes great pride in their selections, she believes they will keep getting better.

Each box costs $29.99 and customers can sign up for three or six months at a time.

The September box is set in stone and they are still tweaking the content for the following months. Irvin says she wants to make them seasonal, aligning the content and shipping time with holidays and finals. They also offer a birthday box that includes themed snacks and trinkets.

“That was a challenge that I found as a parent…it was hard to find a fun little thing that I could send if a kid had a birthday during the school year,” she says.

Each box is also designed to be used as storage, something Irvin says students need when living in cramped dorms and apartments. The lid of each cube is perforated and has pop-up handles to provide stackable storage reminiscent of milk crates. Each cube includes a binder clip that can be used to clip the boxes together to create a makeshift shelf.

Irvin wants each box to evoke versatility, creativity and sustainability; the cubes are recycled and recyclable.

“At the end of the year, if you don’t take your flip flops and last-minute junk home in them, you can just put them into the recycling bin,” says Irvin. “You can use that binder clip to turn your homework in too.”

The subscription startup wants to give more than gourmet snacks, gadgets and personal care products. Irvin says the company partners with colleges to donate to Scholarship America, a national organization with more than 400 local affiliates, including Tempe and Phoenix.

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