How one woman launched a subscription box business during lockdown

Natalie James created a successful subscription box start-up despite the crippling restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hair & Beauty

Natalie James, 30, from Wanstead in east London launched her £10 self-care subscription box service, Tingle, during the national lockdown. Working full-time in fashion PR, the budding entrepreneur took the brave step to enter the world of business at a time when so many Brits faced redundancies and career changes. The first box had international success - selling-out within two weeks - and was also featured on BBC News.

Here, Natalie tells us about her start-up success story...

Natalie James, Founder of Tingle

The subscription box industry is still new, but growing quickly! How did you set Tingle apart from other boxes?

With the market growing so quickly, I wanted to ensure that we made our make our mark, so one of our keys USPs is that all of the products featured are full size. We didn’t want our subscribers to receive samples sizes or things that they could only use once, we want to ensure that their product experience continues.

What can subscribers expect in their Tingle boxes?

Each month they can expect a curated mix of at least 5-6 full size self-care products that can include anything from skincare to makeup, cosmetic tools and sometimes we throw in a sweet treat too. Our previous brand partners include Umberto Giannini, Sleek MakeUp, LA Girl, Anatomicals, Beauty Launderette and more. All the boxes come with a product card with instructions on how to use each item.

Tingle box

Your products are vegan where possible - why is this important for you?

I’m keen to be as ethical as possible when it comes to Tingle, for example our boxes are completely recyclable and I’m against testing on animals so if we are able to feature vegan products that are completely absent of animal products it helps me to know that the brand is staying true to itself.

Additionally, being able to ensure that we use vegan products as much as possible helps us to be able to reach those customers who are conscious about leading an eco-friendly lifestyle.

How can we make more time for self-care every day?

We all know that they day can completely run away from us, in a blink of an eye, but putting aside at least 30 mins or an hour a day, whether its first thing in the morning or just before you go to bed to take some time out and focus on yourself, and how you’re feeling.

Our phones play a big part in distracting us from our me-time - what’s your advice for switching off?

I’m really terrible at this as I find myself looking at my phone more than I care to throughout the day, but I have started turning it off completely before I go to bed so that I’m not sitting up on it all night or being distracted when I should be getting some rest. I would definitely suggest switching off in the evening or when you get to bed.

Tingle Box

Tingle’s tagline is ‘For Girls. By Girls’. Why is it important for people to know that Tingle is woman-owned?

There are many female focused brands out there that are run or owned by men, so I really wanted to share the message that we know where you’re coming from and what you’re up against. I ensure that we also take a really personal approach when it comes to social media, so for example our Instagram feed is super feminine and relatable where possible.

People are shopping on the high street less - especially due to the pandemic - are subscription boxes going to be the way we try new products in future?

I would like to hope so. The market is growing extremely quickly so I can see people turning to subscription boxes even more in future. I think the convenience along with the low cost of most subscription services will continue to draw people in.


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