Who doesn’t like getting fun mail? The Happy Trunk is an ecommerce, subscription based company that delivers monthly “Smiles In A Box for Kids”. Vinnie Bhushan, owner, architect, and interior designer by trade, got her first inspiration for The Happy Trunk from her children. When they were in elementary school, she decided to volunteer as an Odyssey of the Mind Coach. “As an Odyssey of the Mind Coach at Flagstaff Academy in Longmont, CO, I got a first hand view of what open ended activities, questions, and projects can produce in kids,” explains Vinnie. That is what got her thinking about a home delivered, craft/project box targeted at kids ages 3-11yr.
Vinnie launched The Happy Trunk in August 2012, with the intent of inspiring creativity and curiosity in children. She offered busy parents a packaged convenient solution. Vinnie hired a professional PR firm to help her promote the website and timed the promotion effort with the approaching Christmas season. Her subscription model gave her the ability to cash flow her inventory and the orders began building rapidly. To help her keep her ideas fresh, she assembled a team of informal consultants (teachers, a child psychologist and some moms) to help her brain storm ideas for themes and open ended gender neutral crafts and projects. Her crafts and projects are all taken for a test drive by a group of kids to ensure they are box worthy. By enabling customers to provide feedback on her website, she has received valuable customer insights that have helped her continue to refine box themes and content over time. Her revenues tripled in 2013, and she is anticipating solid growth in 2014. She now employs two part time moms to assemble her “trunks” which are shipped across the US. Recently she added on online store to sell individual craft boxes for birthday party favors or “rainy day” fun.
Vinnie sees the Boulder County SBDC in partnership with the Longmont Economic Gardening Program (LEGI) as being instrumental in her success. She met with SBDC consultants early on and after her launch, she enrolled in the Leading Edge Class. Vinnie says that, “The Leading Edge class gave me a good perspective on my business and business financing. The Leading Edge consultants helped me with financing, forecasting, pricing and accounting. I discovered the amazing breadth of consultants that the Boulder County SBDC has to offer and was able to network with other businesses.” Through the LEGI program, Vinnie received market data and analysis that helped her with forecasting and developing her market strategies. She also took advantage of almost all of the LEGI sponsored SBDC classes from “Start Up Essentials” and “Social Media Marketing” to QuickBooks classes.
“I am so grateful for all the help that I received through the SBDC and the LEGI program that I want to find ways to give back,” says Ms. Bhushan. Vinnie has a lot of business wisdom to share, so look forward to hearing more from her on a future SBDC -facilitated panel. We celebrate with Vinnie that to date, The Happy Trunk has been featured on both The Today Show and Good Morning America and we all look forward to more great things to come for The Happy Trunk!