Panic turned into a pivot for one group of female business owners during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"If you shop small and you support a small business. You’re keeping them alive right now," says Brittany Underwood.
Now, shopping small can be done from home with HerStory boxes, a highly curated box filled with female-founded brands.
The team launched in Dallas at the height of the pandemic and their risk supported hundreds of female employees.
Underwood remembers the moment she feared her business might fail.
"Our orders with Neiman Marcus, Saks 5th Ave. and Nordstrom were canceled. We had boxes that were going out the door at our warehouse. I mean, huge boxes full of inventory that we had just produced that they couldn’t take anymore," says Underwood.
Underwood founded Akola 15 years ago, a handmade jewelry brand employing hundreds of impoverished women in Uganda.
"There’s no option to give up, people’s lives are tied to this. This is how our women feed their families," says Underwood.
A mother herself, Underwood figured the pandemic had other female founders scrambling.
"Especially women business owners who have kids and then suddenly thrown all these curve balls and juggling your family for God knows how long," says Underwood.
But her window to act was short.
A brainstorming session with her sister, Tinsley Merrill, and deep dive into their list of contacts and 'HerStory' box was born.
"You get to curate full-size products that you’re most excited about. Knowing that those products are not only impacting the women who created the business but also impacting people so much farther outside of that," says Merrill.
"One of our biggest struggles was the first week, we sold 100 boxes which we did not anticipate," says Underwood.
Merrill and Underwood could sell Akola inventory and start a movement to help other female founders stay afloat.
"We also had to design the entire box. I was in my car, delivering with gloves on Sunday to make sure everyone got it in time because we wanted to make sure if we were launching, we weren’t just launching quickly but with quality," says Merrill.
Quality includes working with businesses that offer a give-back component to their product.
"You’re not only learning about the brand but the woman who founded it and her story," Underwood.
A connection between customer and founder growing into a supportive sisterhood that drives success despite a global pandemic.
"Time management, you can build more hours into your day if you’re passionate and you love what you’re doing," says Merrill.
"Stay in the game, persevere, and don’t give up. We have faced huge struggles and challenges in our business and the reason we’re around is we just refuse to give up," says Underwood.
With 'HerStory' box you pick three full-size products you love from female-founded businesses and you’ll get information on the women you’re supporting.
You can order your fall box at supportherstory.com