"It feels like I am putting together gift baskets for friends each time a new season starts."
The journey with Women’s Collective began in March of 2020. Having experienced, firsthand, how women, their ideas, and their products flourish within communities that value their voices and empower them to succeed, Rashelle felt inspired to harness the soul-stirring energy that comes from women supporting each other’s dreams. Learn how entrepreneur Rashelle Whiteharris got started with Women's Collective Box, and how she and her business overcame the struggles of this past year.
We want to tell you just how much we LOVE the community you're building of strong, entrepreneurial women! Tell us how you came up with the idea for Women's Collective Box and how you got started.
I wanted to start a business that helped support small, women-owned businesses. I wasn’t sure exactly what that was going to look like at the beginning. My first idea was actually to start a magazine, but I really wanted to find a way I could get products directly into consumer’s hands and that’s how WCB came about.
What has it been like building Women's Collective Box in the middle of a global pandemic? Did you have to pivot, or how did the shut-down affect your business?
We launched about three days before the pandemic really hit Michigan so in a sense I haven’t really known what it’s like to run this business not in a pandemic. At the beginning it was terrifying, there was so much panic around what was happening that we saw sales drop overnight. There were definitely many discussions at the beginning about not going forward but my desire to help small, women-owned businesses was stronger than ever. We were really lucky that our business was already based online so for the most part, our main business didn’t need to pivot. Obviously, we pivoted on items that were included in the box so they made sense with staying at home and we started to do partnerships with other women-owned businesses to provide classes and at home things to do.
It can't be an easy decision to choose which female entrepreneurs to feature in your box every quarter! How do you do it?
This is one of the hardest parts for me because I just want to include everyone! The biggest things we focus on is if the entrepreneurs have products that fit with our aesthetic and if they can keep up with our quantity demands. We were actually able to launch our online marketplace in the Fall so we had another opportunity to feature more entrepreneurs!
Every entrepreneur measures success differently, what does your success meter look like? By the number of boxes sold? The number of female business owners supported?
Success for me definitely has to do with the number of female business owners we have been able to support. Like I said before, we launched the marketplace a lot earlier than planned because I couldn’t wait to support more businesses. I also view if a box is successful or not by how much growth our brands in the boxes have received and if our community continues to support those brands after the season is over.
How do you manage your work-life balance, especially being a mama of three?
I don’t. LOL I am still working on this, but it has been more challenging because we pulled our kids out of pre-school/daycare when the pandemic hit so for the entirety of my business I have had all three kids at home with me and we are just doing our best to do what we have to. Going into this business I knew the first few years were going to be demanding so it doesn’t bother me to spend late nights and weekends working on business things. I try to get a little bit of balance by planning certain nights for family things so there are times when I can give them my full attention.
From what we have seen, you are a one woman show right now. Which is insanely impressive by the way. Which parts of running your own biz do you love, and which do you not enjoy as much?
My favorite part is curating the boxes for each season, I love picking the designer and products to fit my vision and then getting to see it all come together when I assemble boxes. It feels like I am putting together gift baskets for friends each time a new season starts. I also love the social media aspect of it, we have a very active FB and Instagram community and engaging with the WC sisterhood has brought me so much joy.
The least enjoyable part of running the business for me is handling a lot of the back end processes like the billing for boxes and customer service. It’s those non-glamorous things that entrepreneurs don’t talk about that you have to do to have a business but aren’t quite as fun.
Do you plan to continue running things on your own or do you have plans to make additions to your team?
I have big goals going forward for WC and that definitely includes adding more women to our team in 2021. I actually just hired our first part time employee to help with our ambassador program so I could focus more on the parts of this business I love and it has been so helpful!
So, if you could have dinner with anyone dead or alive, who would it be?
That is such a hard question, but I think I would pick Jen Hatmaker. I love her books and podcast and I have so many things I would ask her. She also just seems like she would be such a fun person to chat with.
What kind of interview would this be if we didn't ask everyone's "favorite" question? Where do you want to see the Women's Collective Box in 5 years?
I am a dreamer so I have so many goals and ideas for our future, but I always tell
everyone my long-term plan for Women’s Collective was never to be just a box. I want it to be a place for women to come together and thrive and I hope that in the future WC can have spaces to actually do that in person.
And lastly, what is the best piece of advice you've been given thus far that has made a difference in your business?
That you can never please everyone. I struggle with this a lot still and it’s a great reminder that there is always going to be somebody that doesn’t love what I create and that is okay.
These women are strong, badass babes that appear to be living their absolute dreams. Which we are, BUT we also struggle -- more than you probably even realize. Building a business is one of the hardest things you can do on it's own, let alone through a global pandemic. I want to encourage small business owners today, and say that WE SEE YOU. We see ALL of you.
The pivots, creativity, flexibility, blood, sweat and tears that small business owners put in over the past year are undeniable and these stories must be shared and recognized.
It's time we encourage the women we all know in our lives, who are pouring their heart and souls into their businesses. It’s time we recognize the strength and resilience they put in over the past year and continue to do each and every day.
Learn more about the Small Biz Strong movement here!
Purchase a bracelet for yourself or gift one to a strong, small biz owner here!