“Diwali is the best time to feel special. And a curated box is obviously going to stand out from the rest of the things," says Nitika Sonkhiya, 27, founder of Reverie Box—a subscription box that sends out organic, cruelty-free skincare products.

Subscription boxes, by definition, are boxes you subscribe to for a period of three, six or 12 months. Much like a magazine subscription, in these boxes you get a collection of goodies which can be anything from makeup, skincare products to books, edible items, stationery, etc. A group of youngsters are confident that subscription boxes can be just as great as a gift as a box of sweets this festive season.

The origin

Subscription boxes have been there for some time with more than a dozen cropping up every year. But in a competitive market, each of these boxes has to be a little different, a little special, to deliver the perfect festive cheer.

“I have been a fan of subscription boxes for a long time. However, I realized that I had a lot of unused products piling up. Because no one actually wanted to know what kind of products I would want. I recognized a gap there and launched Reverie Box in October 2016," says Sonkhiya. Reverie Box ties up with skin care experts, natural or organic product creators; does quality checks on the products and only then sends them out. The boxes are made after asking subscribers what they need and want, making sure no two of these personalized-curated boxes are the same.

For Unnika Manhas and Yukti Gupta, the need gap came in the form of hair accessories for young girls. Having seen these abroad, they were sure that in India too there would a client base for the same. “We are both from NIFT and knew about the textures, patterns and colours that can work. So we trained underprivileged women to sew the hairbands and bows specifically for this, did away with middle men or suppliers and started selling our subscription boxes," explains Manhas, 26, co-founder of the year-old, Rattle & Co—a subscription box that sends hair ties, clips, bows and bands for young girls.

The challenge

But every new start-up faces its own unique challenges. For Manhas, it was to convince people that subscription boxes were not just about make up, jewellery and skin care. Rattle & Co has everything from soft headbands for infants to pigtail bands and hair clips from slightly older children. “We spent time in creating awareness to both vendors and customers. At first, we would also face hurdles in terms of the number of products—because what was huge for us, would be too small to our textile vendor. Now, it has been a year and things are easier," she adds.

The founder’s age also can become an obstacle at times, as Gitanshi Sharma and Abhinav Kansal, both 24, found out while launching Grab-a-Grabox—a monthly box of makeup, lifestyle and jewellery items. “We tied up with the manufacturers directly to get out products. That, especially for our low priced boxes, means very low margins. The manufacturers were also not used to dealing with people straight out of college," says Sharma. She adds that because few people know about subscription boxes, the manufacturers had to be convinced to deliver their orders on time. They would often keep delaying it, asking them to take it in lots. “We had to explain that we need to send these out together," she adds.

Festive talk

For the festive season – from including Navratri and Diwali, each of these companies have special offers: Reverie Box has tied up with organic and natural care products to bring a Diwali budget box. Priced at Rs990, this will include (upon the choice of the subscriber) a mix of natural body oils, beauty oils, face scrubs, masks, etc. “Diwali being start of the winter season, this range of oils is well-timed and a great gifting option," explains Sonkhiya.

“For the festive season, our idea is to bring back the sparkle and light," says Manhas. Rattle & Co has lined up its festive boxes, starting at 1,399, with an option of putting unique bows or hair ties such as metallic, glitter and ethnic—to go with any kind of attire for the season. Grab-a-Grabox on the other hand, has clubbed the Diwali offer with its anniversary and is organizing giveaways along with heavy discounts. There is also a new segment which will be launched for this season, which Sharma remains tight-lipped about.

The Gift Basket looks at unique gifting options for the festive season and the people behind them.

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