In the Spotlight: Chioma Amegashie, Founder & CEO of MOSAIC Box
Retail and product expert Chioma Amegashie won Doyenne’s 5x5x5 pitch competition this year, and now — just in time for the holidays — she has a plan to turn that $5K grant into hundreds of subscribers for her jewelry and gift business.
After a 20-year career as a buyer in corporate retail, Chioma Amegashie noticed a void in the marketplace. She was seeing too much of the same thing. Every retailer had a cookie-cutter look. As a product expert, Chioma believed there was an unmet demand for unique, high-quality products that were ethically sourced from global artisans.
So in 2018, she launched MOSAIC Box, a subscription box company that delivers a box filled with up to $200 worth of globally sourced jewelry and gifts every other month, right to your front door.
In August, Chioma won a $5,000 grant from Doyenne in the 5x5x5 pitch competition. I got the chance to chat with Chioma this month, and I learned how she plans to use that grant to put some dynamite into her holiday sales and where she wants to take the brand once she gains a little more traction.
How did you begin testing your theory that these customers were out there and were underserved?
I tested different categories, materials, and interests when I initially launched, but the sweet spot is jewelry, accessories, and gifts. Jewelry and gifts are margin-rich. That’s where I want to be. I got a really great reaction overall from my customers about how special the finds are.
And how do you find your products?
Everything is handpicked by me. I wouldn’t ship anything I wouldn’t buy myself. I try to bring the best of a particular destination’s artisans to my customer. But through my career and personally, I’ve traveled all over the world to scout products. Since launching MOSAIC Box, I’ve been focused on going to trade shows in New York, but I want to get back into international trade shows next year.
Why did you choose the subscription box model?
The first iteration was an e-commerce site, but you have to differentiate yourself. Subscription boxes have been growing 100% year over year, for the past five years. What I found was that the larger opportunity was not in selling a single item, it was curating a story. It’s all about the customer experience. And the subscription box model gives you a longer lifetime with the customer and brings in recurring revenue.
How did you arrive at your pricing structure?
I think my pricing makes sense when I look at the competition and where I’m positioned. I’m in that premium space. What really differentiates me is that we tell a fashion story in each box. It’s thoughtfully curated, intentional.
What do you mean by telling a fashion story?
It could be the color story, where the items are from, or it could be themed. I work with vendors who work with women artisans, and they pull together information that I can share in the box with my customer. Right now I’m working on the holiday box. And I think about her in terms of her lifestyle. She has a bunch of events to go to over the holidays, so I pull together items she can wear together.
What’s the most exciting milestone you’ve passed so far?
The biggest milestone right now has been winning the $5,000 grant from Doyenne through the 5x5x5. The timing is just perfect. So far, everything has been word of mouth for the first year. Winning this grant is allowing me to market my business for the first time this holiday season. I’m working with someone who is well-versed in digital marketing. We’re putting together a strong digital marketing strategy through the six-week holiday season, with Facebook and Instagram marketing.
We’re hoping to get anywhere from 250 to 500 new subscribers from this campaign.
What’s the most interesting thing you’ve learned about your ideal customer so far?
It’s interesting to see which boxes she responds to. Last holiday my thought was, ‘It’s entertaining season.’ There was some jewelry, but the theme was a color story with some home decor items. I thought it was a phenomenal box, but the feedback was people wanted more items for going out. So this year the holiday luxe box is themed around accessories for events (and it’s available now at www.yourmosaicbox.com). But I love solving the problems for my customer.
How do you plan to scale up the business? Will you add more products?
Currently, my model is a standardized curation, so everyone gets the same items at this point. But as I grow I hope to offer more customization. I would also like to give more options for occasions. For example, if a friend of yours bought a house, and you wanted to send something nice. How do we offer more options around her lifestyle so she can think of me as a gift destination? I’m trying to build a global-inspired lifestyle brand.
The other thing that’s really important for my brand is content. Right now we’re a startup and every dollar is focused. I’m hoping with this grant we’ll start building our subscriber list and be able to start giving her more content. We want to be feeding her with ongoing content so she’ll continue to pay $49.99/month to get great products and great behind-the-scenes and lifestyle content.
What’s the biggest challenge you have faced so far?
The challenge of every startup is just cash flow. The holiday time is when the bulk of everything happens. And there’s a lot of competition in the space. I feel like my voice is strong and my intent is clear, but how do you stand out from some of the larger retailers who have tons of advertising dollars? And being a solopreneur, I think I have like 16 jobs.
How has Doyenne helped you along the entrepreneurial journey?
It’s been valuable to be able to get some buzz around my business and to market it this holiday season. And being in the accelerator and getting the coaching and guidance — the first session with Amy was so incredible.
The entrepreneur’s journey is an emotional one. It is not for the faint of heart. But when a woman picks me of all the retail outlets out there, there’s no bigger thrill in the world.