A Creative Minute: Lauren McHugh of in this box
What would you do if you received a box in the mail that was expertly curated to meet you exactly where you are in life - during seasons of stress, joy and everything in-between?
Enter in this box, the current passion project of Nashville-based Lauren McHugh. I first met Lauren while I was running my former blog, That Working Girl, and Lauren was incredibly supportive of my content and everything that I was trying to achieve on the site. Now, it's time to return the favor!
If you've ever felt inspired to jumpstart a business that aims to serve others and love others well, this one's for you.
Q: Share a bit of your story with us: where are you currently located, what events in your life led you to pursue your current career path in social media, and what initially ignited your idea to launch In This Box as a side project to give back?
A: I'm a recent southerner in Nashville, TN, originally from Grand Rapids, Michigan. I currently am working a day job as a receptionist (hopefully not for long!), and a part-time job as a VA. I started in social media when I was in college as a sports management major and the jobs just kept coming in after that!
In This Box started when a close friend of mine was going through a very hard time. She was miles and miles away from me, and I felt like I couldn't do anything to help. I was still in school so I couldn't just up and go to her...and I didn't have $50+ to send her flowers. I just couldn't shake the feeling that it shouldn't be this hard to show up for someone. Thus, in this box.
While in this box is currently a nomination process, the goal is for it to be a business. Boxes will be available to buy for different reasons (helping a friend with depression/anxiety, celebrating an accomplishment, etc.) and will shipped to people. We will have different price points and box size options so that anyone, anywhere can show up for someone easily.
Q: I love getting a peek into the day-to-day of other creatives. What does your workday routine look like, and how do you manage to successfully balance your full-time work along with growing awareness for In This Box?
A: I usually wake up around 6 and get out of bed around 6:30. I try to get done being ready around 7:15-7:20 and do some of my VA work in the morning and do some research for in this box. I then go to my day job. I live close enough to come home for lunch, so then I do either VA work or in this box social media posts.
Most days I don't balance it. Some days I am not able to work on in this box. Other days I stay up a little too late working on new graphics for Instagram or a Facebook ad for a VA client. Since in this box has only existed since January, I'm still figuring out my vision for the brand and how to grow authentically.
I've really been inspired by Lara Casey's concept that it is "okay to grow slow." While someday I want and believe that in this box will be a full-fledged business, I'm okay with it right now being a small, intimate project that helps people on a small scale.
Q: What is your “elevator pitch” for In This Box, and how would you quickly describe it to someone who was curious about your mission behind the project?
A: The tagline is "a gift-giving business focused on loving people and loving people well."
We currently open a quarterly form to nominate friends, family or loved ones to receive a box filled with curated goods from around the country to let them know they are never alone. We work with the nominator to customize the box and figure out what would make the recipient happy. But everyone who gets nominated and nominates gets an art print and handwritten letter. I wanted to make sure that people knew they were nominated, and the nominators got recognition for being a friend that shows up.
Q: What is your favorite part of the submissions and selection process for In This Box, and how much time and planning goes into packing up boxes for recipients?
A: I love reading how people are showing up for each other. Some of the submissions are heart wrenching, and others are full of joy. But in our two rounds of nominations we've had over 25 people write in with stories championing their people. It is harder and harder to pick someone. That's why I can't wait for it to be a business so people can send boxes to each other across the country!
It takes about two weeks to pick a recipient. It's a lot harder than I thought it would be to choose someone - there are so many deserving people! Then it takes about another two weeks to order the items and discuss with the nominator how to best customize the box for the nominee.
Q: What would your #1 tip be for other women who are seeking more intentionality and gratitude in their career and lives?
A: I think what I've learned the most is to just have a lot of grace for myself. At first, I was constantly thinking about what I could or should be doing. But that led to me always feeling guilty or comparing myself to other businesses. Now, I have a list of things I need to do for the week and tackle it as it comes. I also have learned to take time to do things that I love. Whether it is reading, hanging with my husband or watching Netflix - "me time" is so important to staying focused and relaxed.
Have someone in mind who would be a great nomination for in this box? Keep up on Instagram and Facebook for a heads up on the next round of nominations, and stay in touch with Lauren on Instagram and Twitter as well!