Before Rockets of Awesome Founder and CEO Rachel Blumenthal had a thriving business — her subscription service for children’s clothes — she was a mom with a problem: There is no such thing as being done with clothes shopping for kids. No matter what anyone does, no matter how hard anyone tries, children are in the annoying habit of constantly growing.
“Every season, my kids had outgrown the previous season’s clothes, and I was replacing complete wardrobes,” she says. “It was time-consuming and expensive and, frankly, not much fun.”
Blumenthal needed a solution, so she looked where all modern people look when they need a solution — the internet. It was not foreign ground for her. She had some prior experience in parent-focused eCommerce as she had previously created online baby registry Cricket’s Circle. She also helped Warby Parker get off the ground, which was co-founded by her husband Neil Blumenthal in 2010.
With all that experience, Rachel Blumenthal didn’t just want to find a solution — she wanted to build one herself. The early spark for Rockets of Awesome was born.
Working Out The Logistics
The problem was, though she fancied the subscription-box model for distribution, finding consistently cool stuff to stick in the boxes. She realized that feat would only be harder in a business sending one wardrobe box per season for a kid to wear, since children (and their moms) can be quite choosy about clothes. There is literally no easy one-size-fits-all.
Blumenthal had an interesting way to square that circle by simply removing the middleman. Rockets of Awesome does not contract with existing brands to place their products in the boxes — to essentially offer a curation service to users — as is normally the case in subscription-box commerce setups. Instead, Rockets of Awesome designs its own collections based on the data.
And there is a lot of it. The firm picks what it will offer as sartorial choices based on sales data, customer feedback and a detailed style quiz that every subscriber must take. That information is then fed back through the firm’s proprietary algorithms with a net goal of designing what the people want, then delivering it.
Once the system has an idea of what the customer likes fashion-wise, users get a delivery of 12 pieces of clothing four times a year. Those items tend to range in price from $12-$38 a pop — slightly more than Old Navy, slightly less than Gap Kids — and parents can keep all or none of the items they receive. (There is a $20 charge per box, though that money is put toward whatever purchased items are selected.) Customers who keep all 12 items receive a 25 percent discount.
“Parents onboard onto the site, and we create a style profile for them, learning about what their kids love and what they hate,” Blumenthal noted in an interview. “With that information, we sort a full box every season with our own vertical brand of clothing. We send it to their home and they have the ability to do a home try-on, decide what they love and what they are going to send back. They only pay for what they keep and we pay for shipping both ways, so it’s a really risk-free way of doing a shop each season.”
And for parents who want to buy more than their box contains, no problem — the Rockets of Awesome shop is also an option. Only members can use the à la carte shop. According to the Rockets of Awesome website, “The Shop” only opens once a customer has received their quarterly box and decides what to keep and what to cast back.
The Cycle Of Success
The goal, according to Blumenthal, is simple: “Putting the right apparel into homes at the right time,” and making sure to watch closely enough to know what those right choices are.
Blumenthal told Entrepreneur magazine that the firm’s “magically soft” Comfy Crew sweatshirt is a good example of being properly guided by the data. When the company first rolled it out, the Comfy Crew was just a sweatshirt. Then it became something quite a bit more — it was a sensation.
“Everyone was keeping this product, going to our eCommerce store to buy more, asking for it in more colors and styles,” Blumenthal said. “We went directly to our mill to get more of the fabric, in more colors and more weights, and to make sure we could print graphics on it.”
Today, anything Rockets of Awesome makes out of that fabric — and yes, it makes a lot with the fabric, including pants, shirts, dresses and (of course) sweatshirts — remains a massive hit.
According to Blumenthal, it’s the ability to ride the data in the way it does that keeps Rockets of Awesome always climbing skyward. The better the company does on the boxes, the more orders are placed. And the more orders are placed, the more members it attracts and the more data there is to work with, which means it can target better and build better boxes. And better boxes mean more orders…
A virtuous cycle is not an easy thing to kick off, particularly in a vertical play that is still so new as Rockets of Awesome. But when it works — as it has for Rockets of Awesome — the sky seems to be the limit.