I recently had the honor of interviewing founder and CEO of CosBox: a cosplay subscription company that sends cosplay themed boxes out to its subscribers on a monthly basis. Intrigued by this idea, I reached out to its founder and discovered a few very interesting aspects of her business. Here is what she had to say…
Good Morning CosBox! Please introduce yourself and tell us how were you inspired to create CosBox.
[Hello] my name is Samantha and I go by Mewchi in the Cosplay Community.
Cosbox was inspired by a love for both subscription boxes and cosplay. I personally have around 5-8 active subscriptions every month intermittently (usually related to cosmetics). One day I was searching through subscription listings and it sort of hit me that there was nothing related to cosplay or even sewing. While there are a few ‘nerdy’ or ‘geek’ themed boxes like Lootcrate or NerdBlock, there was a distinct lack of representation in that area for cosplayers. So back in February I started researching business models, branding, and subscription platforms.
It’s nice to hear how CosBox was born, thank you for sharing! Now I understand that a lot of new companies are using crowd funding campaigns to establish their businesses. Was this your method as well? If so, what crowd funding company did you use and how did you edge out your competition?
We did [use crowd funding]! We used the GoFundMe platform, but sort of wish we had gone an alternate route such as IndieGogo, or Kickstarter (Though they initially denied our campaign.) GoFundMe was difficult, as they don’t allow for very good donor interaction, exporting donor names in a coherent form, and charge some pretty high fees.
Honestly we didn’t have much in the way of competition, as we’re the first company of this nature. Our crowdfunding was actually far more successful than we expected it to be. I guess people just really liked the idea!
Tell us a little bit about your team. How did you meet?
We have 3 parts of our team:
- One part is more the administrative side of things, and includes myself, Katelyn Christensen (Seifer-sama), and Sarah Rich (Alasse Venear). We’ve been cosplay/con buddies for about 3 years now, and met primarily through mutual friends.
- The second part of my team is my AMAZING volunteers: Lumos Cosplay, Barracudda, Luluko, and Devon. I met most of them through Cospix.net! We worked together on a few community projects before I brought them on board. They handle a lot of the social media, and do odd and end projects when we need help. They also help with product choosing!
- The rest [of the team] are my Cosplay Representatives! [They are] single-handedly responsible for getting our name out there, creating tutorials, unboxing videos, and helping to encourage new cosplayers to the scene.
Every single one of the people has been an immense help, and I am forever indebted to them!
It sounds like you have an incredible team! As you well know, running a business can be tough. What professional methodologies have you found integrate more effectively with your creative perspective?
Organization can be huge! Having a set schedule and list of deadlines can help keep the scatterbrained creative on track!
I’ve also learned to utilize when people offer to help! I gotta let go of the reins sometimes and accept help when I need it. I only have 2 hands haha. A big thing I’ve been trying lately is to focus on the positive. Unfortunately we cannot please everyone and for a good few weeks after our first box went out I was so upset over a few negative reviews. [Then] I realized that for every negative one there were 2 positive reviews and thought: “Why Am I doing this to myself?”
I had to learn to take the criticism and if it’s a good critique [I learned] to implement it. I couldn’t let the people wanting us to fail to win! Social media and anonymous forums are really hard to learn from because they feel so personal. Advice to any new entrepreneurs, ESPECIALLY relating to cosplay: DON’T read the things people post about you on anonymous forums. DO take feedback and constructive criticism. I’ve been trying really hard to listen to what my customers have to say [about] what they do and don’t like!
It sounds like customer input is important to you. So how do you select what you will include in your subscription boxes?
Lots and LOTS of research. We look at cosplay trends via social media and see what products people are talking about. A big indicator is curiosity. How many people ‘wonder’ what it’s like? How easy is this product to test out? Do you have to order a full size to do so?
Our goal is to introduce people to products they aren’t sure how to use or get them samples of products without having to buy full size. A perfect example is the new Black Worbla or CosplayFlex. There’s been a lot of talk about them lately but they’re a bit difficult to get a hold of. We decided those are a priority for the next few months.
What was your favorite Cosbox?
Our favorite box so far is our latest one: the Halloween Cosbox! It featured Customer 3D printed Horns exclusively for Subscribers from TrishDobson Designs. For the basic box there was a DIY kit, along with our new line of false Eyelashes that people could add to their box: (10) for $5.00!
You seem to have a lot insight: How long have you been a part of the cosplay community? Where did you get your start?
I, myself, have been cosplaying since 2005. My first convention was Anime Los Angeles in 2005! I hand sewed (poorly I might add) an Usagi costume and had no wig….but had such an amazing time I was sort of hooked after that! I’ve made around 150 cosplays, some bad…some good, but all worth it!
If you had to chose your favorite cosplay genre, what would it be? (e.g. anime, manga, video game, cross-play, etc.)
That’s hard! I love anime, but more often find the complex designs of video games pretty appealing! I recently did my first crossplay too, so I’ve taken an interest in it.
In conlcusion: What is your vision for the future of CosBox?
To create a part of the community that is supportive and encouraging of newer cosplayers and cosplayers that want to learn new things! We would eventually like to have a streamlined channel for tutorials and product reviews along with a localized studio for cosplayers to shoot in! We’ve already vastly improved from our first month and hope to keep putting out bigger and better boxes full of stuff cosplayers love!
Are you a cosplayer or aspiring costumer interested in exploring the world of cosplay? If so, check out CosBox and subscribe to one of their many cosplay DIY options. November’s theme is “Big Armor”! A BIG Thank you to the CosBox team for sharing their advice. Cosplay on Fan Girls!