By Rebecca Alwine
In the lifetime of a military spouse, there is a lot of time spent shopping for and mailing care packages. We give and give, to our spouses, our friends, the single service members, and to each other. Over the past year, we’ve seen two businesses emerge who share a goal: To take care of us. The Six Box and MilSO Box both put military wives at heart, giving them a treat each month in a subscription box designed just for them.
MilSO Box – A one-woman show
When Lindsay Hinger started MilSO Box in 2016, she was working around the clock to balance her full-time logistics job, parenting, her marriage, and her new business. “Family comes first,” she said, “But I have to admit this past year, getting the company off the ground was a high priority.”
Hinger is incredibly grateful to her supportive husband who took over most of the work during those months. “I would work my ‘regular’ job until 5 and then work my business until midnight and then go home and do it all again the next day,” she remembers.
Now she is able to do business work at home, within the evening schedule of their home life. She also was able to transition her full-time job to work from home, making her more productive overall.
As MilSO Box plans ahead for the rest of 2017, Hinger some exciting news. The Chris Kyle Frog Foundation reached out in 2016 and partnered with MilSO Box to allow followers to purchase boxes to be shipped to military wives they don’t know. Hinger is working with organizations at military installations to send these donated boxes and have them delivered to wives.
The Six Box – Friends for life
Military spouses are no strangers to taking care of each other, so when Megan Casper and Alana Le met and became fast friends, this was one thing that came easily to them. The duo quickly learned how to work together, among children, deployments, and the busyness of life and formed The Six Box. The name plays on the military phrase, “I’ve got your six,” a reference to looking out for each other.
These friends have divided the work based on their experiences and preferences. Alana handles website, design, marketing, and product sourcing while Megan handles the administrative and operational tasks, including packing and writing the journal.
While spending time together may seem easy since they are, in fact, neighbors, there are times when video chat is their communication, during those magical hours after the kids have gone to bed. In 2017, the pair is working on finding the right products for each monthly box and launching some specialty boxes. They have an idea for a Comfort Box, which would not be subscription-based, to help spouses experiencing grief and loss. They also hope to repeat the collaborative effort that went into the February Love Dare Challenge by working with more military spouse bloggers and entrepreneurs.
A peak inside
Both companies spend countless hours searching for the perfect items for the box and that match their themes. MilSO Box sends out 40-100 boxes a month, based on their subscription, making predicting the quantity of items to buy a bit challenging. Hinger personally selects the 4-7 items, based on a formula, and packs them up in her living room. “Holidays often predict the theme for the winter months, but going forward into March and April, I’m looking for things that will be helpful or fun for military wives,” she said. Her formula includes something to do, something that feels good, a surprise item, something helpful or useful, and something edible.
The Six Box also selects a theme for the month and products that go along with it, while keeping the mission of “taking care of military spouses” to heart. March’s theme is Spring Break and January was Goal Digger, as a few examples. Casper and Le focus on items that the recipients can use immediately like snacks, beauty and spa items, and cards.
When looking inside both boxes, spouses can easily see the time that goes into creating them, including the time spent finding the perfect source for the item. “We scour Etsy, local markets, and beauty blogs to find products that are a good fit for our theme,” Le said. The Six Box has items that usually come from civilian-owned companies who are excited to show their support for military spouses. “We love when we get to include military spouse-created products in our boxes,” Le said, “The Tumbler from our March Box was from a military spouse.”
Hinger also feels strongly about where her products come from. “There has only been one company that I bought from whose product wasn’t made in America,” she said. “Most of the companies I use have a military affiliation, and we start a relationship.” Hinger is likely to return to these companies for future boxes, and they both work together on social media and marketing. Some of the items that she has used in boxes are available on her website as one-time purchases, just in case you get something in your box you want to gift to a friend.
A popular idea
While there are so many subscription boxes out there, these two companies have really found a nice market with military spouses. Le and Casper have been able to use their own experiences as a military spouses to work when creating their box each month. Speaking about their signature journal, included in each box each month, the pair noted, “We love it because we really pour our hearts into it each month–it’s essentially a brutally honest product of the lessons we’ve learned the hard way in our own journeys as military spouses.”
Hinger, however, is not a military spouse, nor has she ever been. “I am a US Air Force Veteran, proud mother, and wife to a wonderful male nurse, who cares for veterans at the local VA hospital,” she says on her website. One of her favorite people is an Army wife and, “Her wonderful, difficult, completely-worth-it life spurred me into action.”