MARILYN MONROE famously sung about diamonds being a girl’s best friend — and she was right, but not all of us can or need to sport expensive baubles on a daily basis. So what’s a girl to do who loves jewelry but doesn’t need that kind of blinding bling ordering a latte at Starbucks? Meaghan Rose has solved that very problem with Rocksbox, a curated jewelry subscription box that values both style and substance. They carry over 30 of your favorite jewelry brands and stylists pick pieces for each customer based on their answers to an extensive online style quiz. Clients pay a monthly fee for the box which they can keep as long as they like and can either return pieces for new ones or purchase the piece at a discount. Rose, the company’s CEO & co-founder, built the first version of the Rocksbox site on WordPress, and it’s been garnering attention ever since. The Wharton Business School graduate spoke with Lady Clever about running a successful accessories e-commerce brand in a competitive market and what’s next for Rocksbox.
What inspired you to start Rocksbox?
I started Rocksbox because I loved jewelry and I loved shopping online — but I felt like buying jewelry online was uninspiring and frustrating. The thing about jewelry is that it’s something you buy on an impulse. You rarely set out to buy jewelry — you buy it because you happen to notice it while looking for something else. In the online world, you don’t have that “impulse moment” anymore. Even though I was a jewelry lover, I found that the more I shopped online, the less jewelry I bought. That was the “a-ha!” moment for me.
I started Rocksbox with the mission of becoming the online destination for fabulous jewelry. I created the Rocksbox experience from my perspective as a shopper, and designed the experience specifically for the way we shop for jewelry. Ultimately, the Rocksbox model is based on the idea of bringing the impulse moment into your home.
Can you shine some light on how jewelry is picked for your customers after they take the style quiz?
We have a team of stylists who handpick pieces for each of our members. Every box we send out to each of our members is unique and customized for that person. We have our own brands and over 30 top brands that we curate for our customers. Our stylists are not without help, though. We have a tremendous amount of data about every one of our members, letting us know how they wear jewelry, what they love, like or could live without. All of that factors into a stylist cockpit that we built in-house to help a stylist pick out the best possible box for each member.
How do you balance your creative duties with the business side of your company? Does one side tend to overtake the other?
The cool thing about building a fashion tech company is that it really requires you to leverage both the business and creative sides at the same time. I really believe that the only way we are going to build something meaningful is if we approach business and technical problems with a truly creative approach. Every element of our business — marketing, merchandising, social media, technology, and so on — requires this. My personal background in on the business side — and I have a very data-driven approach to running the business — but I am also still very involved in the branding, graphic design, web design and product-sourcing aspects of the business.
Have you found it difficult to balance your personal and professional lives?
Yes, it’s a challenge for any entrepreneur and even more so as you look to build a large-scale venture-backed company. This is without a doubt a 24/7 job, but nobody can be effective in her professional lives without a healthy personal life. I make time for my family, friends, and myself, but I know that there are sacrifices that come with being a founder. That isn’t to say my personal and professional lives don’t blend, but it works for me as many of my friends are founders as well or love talking to me about RocksBox. It’s actually rejuvenating at times to hear how folks not involved in the business every day are thinking about different things that come up at work.
What has been Rocksbox’s biggest success to date?
Building RocksBox has been a series of many successes and failure over time. There isn’t just one success to point to, and it will always be like that for any entrepreneur. One of our most recent successes has been launching our own jewelry brands. With everything we know about our customers and fashion, we’ve been able to use data, style, and our team’s expertise to create new brands tailored for and exclusive to our customers. We launched “Slate” and “Perry Street” this fall and both have quickly become customer favorites.
What is one piece of advice you’d offer female entrepreneurs just starting?
As an entrepreneur you need to really find your own personal style. It’s easy to believe you have to be like a certain female entrepreneur. There are so many examples of great female leaders, but they are personalities that worked for who they were individually. Don’t try and be the “alpha female” because you think investors or others are looking for that. You’re most effective when you’re true to yourself and know who you are. It allows you to play to your strengths and also cover our blind spots. If you try to be someone else, you’ll lack self-awareness which is critically important as a leader.
You rock, Rocksbox. Sign us up.