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What do you get when you cross three new moms – one with a passion for graphic design, another with a degree in public relations, the third with buyer’s experience at Canada’s iconic department store, and none with the wherewithal t
Jeanie Borremans packages FrockBox orders. The online service ships a personalized set of fashionable clothing to its customers monthly
Jeanie Borremans packages FrockBox orders. The online service ships a personalized set of fashionable clothing to its customers monthly

What do you get when you cross three new moms – one with a passion for graphic design, another with a degree in public relations, the third with buyer’s experience at Canada’s iconic department store, and none with the wherewithal to pack up the toddlers for a few hours of retail therapy?

A very successful subscription box service called FrockBox.

Jenna Hill, Shanlyn Cunningham and Jeanie Borremans met through the St. Albert branch of the new moms network about two years ago.

All three have two children – their eldest aged two and a half.

It was out of their shared experience of becoming moms that the idea for a monthly clothing subscription grew.

“As a mom you buy clothes for your kids all the time. Sometimes you buy things for your husband, but we don’t really do much for ourselves,” said Hill, who pointed out that this is often an awkward time for a woman’s body.

Although a new mom may be in need of new clothes or just of a few minutes to herself, a stop at the mall with two kids in tow is no walk in the park.

“You get your grocery shopping done, OK that’s one stop. But to go to a mall and have to go in to different stores and God forbid you want to try anything on,” said Borremans. “You’re rushed, somebody wants a snack, somebody wants to go play on horses on the merry-go-round. It doesn’t become about you.”

FrockBox is meant to take the stress out of that process of getting new clothes.

Every month clients receive hand picked items to help build, or rebuild, their wardrobes. Not only do the clothes fit their personal style, but they are on trend for the season.

But the service does not only cater to moms. Busy professionals might find the service useful, as well as those who have a hard time piecing together outfits or following trends. Some subscribers may simply love surprises.

Since launching in August, the service has grown from a circle of 30 friends, family members and colleagues to almost 500 subscribers nationwide, solely on word-of-mouth and social media hype.

FrockBox builds on existing online shopping trends and the subscription box craze that has been taking over the nation.

When Sarah Zimmerman started her blog A Year of Boxes three years ago, there were very few Canadian subscriptions on the market. Now there are over 90 different kinds available.

“I stumbled across (subscription boxes) on the Internet. As soon as I found them I was super interested. But the few that I went on to try and learn about were all U.S.-based. I tried to Google and research Canadian subscription boxes, but there was no information on them,” said the Kelowna-based blogger.

The trend started in the U.S. with beauty boxes like Ipsy and Birchbox, before catering to the foodie market with meats and cheeses, beer and wine. It has since grown to include everything from comic books to pet supplies to grooming kits for men.

Despite the fact that you can get almost everything in between, there are very few fashion boxes out there.

Zimmerman, who recently started her own women’s fashion box called Magnolia Post Co., said this is partly due to higher cost, but also to hesitation on the part of the subscriber.

“It can be so particular,” she said. “It’s easy to send someone a lip gloss or an eye shadow or something like that, but to send them a shirt that they’re going to like and that’s going to fit them is a little bit more difficult.”

That’s why the FrockBox team makes sure to order articles that are forgiving and tend to fit all body types. They also try each item on to get a better idea of how it might fit a client’s body shape and size.

They also get clients to fill out an online style profile upon registering, which asks the basics like size, weight, height and hair colour, but also more tailored questions about clothing preference (Do you like to wear dresses? What about skirts?), activities (Are you looking for clothes you can chase a two-year-old in or something you can wear for drinks with the girls?) and whether you would like to play it safe or receive some funkier pieces you may not have ever chosen for yourself.

On her blog, See the World in Pink, Clementine expressed her excitement upon learning about FrockBox.

Clementine said the subscription trend only really started to pick up in Canada within the last year.

“In the States is where it’s been for the last few years. Canada is a little slow to catch up,” she said.

The most popular box type remain what she calls lifestyle boxes, which combine teas with beauty and bath products, among other things. This is most likely due to the versatile nature of that particular subscription.

“The best part of subscription boxes for me is always the surprise every month. You don’t really know what you’re getting. It’s fun to open up a little present for yourself and see what you get for the month,” she said.

Although she tends to stick more towards the beauty and bath products, Clementine said she was very impressed by the value she got from FrockBox.

“I really like to know if I’m getting a good deal,” she said.

While some fashion boxes have disappointed her in the past by including discounted clothing or last year’s stock, the clothes Clementine received from FrockBox were new, in style, and in line with her personal tastes.

Unlike other subscription services, FrockBox also pieces together outfits for the customer.

“It’s not just one piece that we’re throwing in,” said Hill. “It’s like having a personal stylist behind the scenes working for you.”

Although this sets them apart, it also creates quite the challenge month-to-month. Borremans said the selection process is constantly being revamped as they continue to accept new clients.

But the feedback they have been receiving has been worth it.

“The mail is so full of bills and not necessarily good news anymore. People always tell us how excited they are to see the little purple peeking out of their mailbox. It’s like Christmas every month for them,” said Borremans.

Speaking of Christmas, the company recently released a gift option, where spouses or significant others can purchase the service and print out a card reminding clients to fill out their details at a later date.

FrockBox provides free shipping and only delivers in Canada. The company uses Canada Post to deliver its goodies and can therefore reach a larger rural market, given that some carriers, like UPS and FedEx, don’t deliver to P.O. boxes.




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