It’s been almost two years since the pandemic swiftly and savagely pushed us all inside. Small business owners have had a particularly rough go of things, from having to close their storefronts to curb the spread of the virus to ongoing supply-chain issues that have lingered even after vaccines and booster shots became available.
In the spring of 2020, Akola founder Brittany Underwood and Miracle Milkookies founder Whitney Rowell reached out to friends and fellow female business owners. They learned that everyone was feeling the same panic over canceled orders and unsold inventory.
So, Underwood called her sister, PAIRR Experience cofounder Tinsley Merrill, and the three started brainstorming a solution.
“We decided, what can we do in the meantime to not only support our own small businesses, but also our friends’ small businesses?” Merrill says.
In April 2020, they launched curated box company Support HerStory to help themselves and other female business owners sell their inventory. The culled about 50 brands, like Mi Golondrina and ZENJENN, to fill the boxes, and, within a week and a half, they had sold 150 boxes, Merrill says.
While that was great, “the more exciting part was having the noise and actually being able to share about each other’s companies and our stories and the brand stories,” she says. “And so with that, we ended up continuing to grow and bring on brands and realize there was so much more of an opportunity than just doing our build-your-box subscription concept.”
In the 21 months since it launched, Support HerStory has grown into a fully-fledged online marketplace of women-founded brands, many of which, like Corazón Playero and Akola, support female artisans across the globe. “A huge part of our mission is smaller businesses that are supporting communities,” Merrill says.
The platform allows these companies to sell their wares, support the other brands, gain social media recognition, produce capsule collections, and work together.
“It’s just really cool to see the impact and what’s happening when you bring women together and are able to collaborate and recreate and re-showcase their stories in this new retail environment,” Merrill says.
And, of course, you can still buy a curated box.
Support Herstory boxes are priced from $99 to $250, but the products can retail for as much as $550 if bought separately. They’re sold as one-off gifts or recurring subscriptions. Shoppers can choose from three box sizes: “Discover,” which includes two products; “Support,” which includes three; or “Represent,” which includes four.
Each box comes with an “every box” item, which Merrill describes as “a luxury stocking stuffer.” Think small things like ZENJENN body oil. Then, you can peruse a list of 20 to 50 luxury items, from home goods and beauty products to accessories, to fill out the rest of your box.
“It’s a great way to discover new brands” Merrill says, “so if you are you know a big fan of Akola, you might purchase the Support Herstory box and discover Susan Posnick or Beauty Bio.”
In addition to its online marketplace, Support HerStory has organized events to showcase their brands and allow customers to shop in person. For example, Support HerStory partnered with LoveShackFancy to sell Corazón Playero hats when the vintage, cottage-core clothing company opened stores in Coconut Grove and Palm Beach, Florida last year.
Support HerStory is hosting a local Galentine’s Day event later this week in the West Village Rent the Runway pop-up space. From Thursday, January 27, through Sunday, January 30, folks can shop 50 different products featured in the SupportHerStory boxes.
You’ll be able meet the founders of some of the Support HerStory businesses, scan QR codes to learn about each of the companies’ stories, and build your own box on site.
“There is no better way to understand a product or story than touching, feeling, and experiencing it in person,” says Merrill, whose background is in influencer and experiential marketing.
In true Support HerStory fashion, everything about the event will support female business owners, including the vendors. Shoppers can sip Casey Barber’s Rose Gold Rosé, munch on We the Birds macarons, and snap an Instagram in front of Austin-based artist Steffi Lynn’s mural wall.
You can get your makeup done, order Valentine’s Day flowers, and have any purchase personalized for free (a hand painter and embroiderer will be onsite to fulfill orders).
“We’re taking this and really turning it into a Galentine’s Day interactive experience,” Merrill says.
3699 McKinney Ave, # 405. Thurs-Sun, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.