We get asked a lot about how we find vendors, why we choose the products we choose, and more, so I thought it would be the perfect introductory post to start this blog series!
When it comes to finding vendors, we start with the theme of the month. For example, June 2023's theme is "Summer Lovin'". I thought about taking this down a Grease, 1970's vibe, but struggled to find cohesive, useful items that met that theme - should I consider doing a 70's themed box next year?
Eventually, I found that a "what I love about summer" fit this theme well and gave me plenty of options for products. My story board for this box included cold brew iced coffee, watermelon, cucumbers, heart-shaped sunglasses, sand castles, ice cold drinks, and picnic blankets. Not really what I would stick in the box, haha, but it makes sense to create a space for my thoughts on the theme!
Without giving away exactly what is coming in the June box, I then went to the Google, Instagram, and even Faire (a wholesale online platform) to get ideas on what could be in this box. I saved products I loved that could work with our budget and the theme and when I was done I had a list of over 100 items that could go in the box. We typically send 5-8 items, depending on the cost of each item, so I had to narrow it down.
Then, I see what I already saved that is made by a military-connected business. What is already Veteran-owned or Military spouse-owned? What is on my list that I already know a military-connected vendor for? Which of these items can be found on Spouse-ly that would be military or EMS connected? Once I have that list narrowed down, I start the conversation with each vendor to find the best connection.
When it comes to vendors, I look for the following:
1. How quickly do they respond? I don't need them to respond the same day, but if it takes weeks to get back to me, I don't want you to have any issues with their customer service if you choose to purchase further from them, and will probably skip working together. If they never respond, I surely don't include them in a box, because if you have an issue I want their customer service to take good care of you.
2. How is the quality of their product? I really like getting photos, if not getting actual samples of their work, before putting them in a box. This way I can see their packaging, their process, the actual quality of their work, and how durable their product is. If it falls apart right away and their customer service doesn't fix it, I pass. If they are great at fixing small problems, I am all on board to work with them again!
3. How friendly are they? This may seem silly, but I have had poor experiences with businesses who just aren't nice. Their quality is great, they fix issues right away, but they just aren't friendly in messages or in conversations on the phone. I don't want them to treat you any less than I treat you - like the gold you are! - so if they aren't nice, I don't persue their business for a box.
Once I have all the items figured out, it meets our theme requirements and our budget, and the vendors have been vetted for responsiveness, quality, and friendliness, it's time to order and start packing boxes!
I would love to know what matters to you in a small business- is it their responsiveness, quality, friendliness, or something else? Let me know!
Also; should we do a 70's themed box?! It seems so fun but it's a tough order to fill!