To the women of America: If you add up all the time you’ve spent shopping for tampons, razors, shaving cream, pantyhose or those slightly awkward stops for condoms (prophylactics), you could’ve flown to Puerto Rico and enjoyed a week-long vacation on the beach instead.
To save time, you could hire a personal assistant to hit up CVS, or you could shop at Hoseanna.com, a new auto-refill service for busy women. Hoseanna.com, a New York City based startup that was founded by 2 women, which publicly launched with a new site and expanded product categories in early September supported by $250,000 in angel funding from InitioGroup out of Vancouver, BC.
Hoseanna offers very basic staples like pantyhose you’d buy on your way to a party from brands like Calvin Klein and DKNY, tampons, shaving cream, lip balm, toothpaste, deodorant, condoms and lube to customers in the U.S. and Canada. With Hoseanna, women can set up a flexible ‘auto-refill’ service no you longer need to “remember” to purchase a product after you’ve run out. Additionally, Hoseanna offers an incentive program that rewards shopping, sharing and discovery and has a mobile app- Hoseanna-on-The-Go that’s coming this fall.
Hoseanna is the brainchild of two time-starved, former corporate execs (and long-time friends) Katrina Carroll-Foster, who lives in Vancouver via Washington, D.C. and New Yorker Tracey Solomon. We caught up with the two entrepreneurs on their new startup. Catch our interview after the jump.
CBM: How did you two meet and what was the apple on the head moment for Hoseanna?
Katrina Carroll-Foster (KCF): Tracey and I have been best friends since our high school days in kilts and knee socks. Despite having lives and careers on opposite coasts, we’ve talked for years about starting a business together. It started out innocently enough. Just under a year ago, we were having one of our usual download sessions about our crazy work schedules and Tracey was like ‘Thank God for my online grocer – if it wasn’t for them I would be eating microwave popcorn and red wine for dinner again!’.
I said to her ‘don’t you wish there was a fairy godmother that shopped for all that annoying stuff and just dropped it at your door every month so you didn’t have to think about it?’. We started rattling off all the things that would be on that shopping list. And then the penny dropped. A month later we had both left our jobs and were sitting in a coffee shop in Brooklyn working on our business plan.
CBM: What’s your monetization strategy?
Tracey Solomon (TS): As an eCommerce business, we make money on every transaction. As an automatic refill service, there is a renewable and predictable revenue stream that comes from having a steady base of customers. In the near future we expect to partner more closely with the manufacturers to help them get more insight on the patterns and preferences of the people who buy their products through Hoseanna.
CBM: What products are you seeing people order the most?
KCF: Our highest traffic items are in legwear and feminine hygiene. These are essentially the staples in every woman’s basket – they have a fixed number of uses and inevitably run out an inopportune moment, so it’s no surprise that women bundle this stuff together. What’s been interesting is to see how women are also starting to add condoms to their order – no matter what a woman’s age or life stage, discretion is important. Our female shoppers understand our product mix – Hoseanna is a place for women to shop for their ‘nuisance’ products, i.e. things that they have to, but sometimes hate to, buy.
Q: Do you plan on expanding your offerings?
KCF: Our customers and fans are always coming to us with new ideas for products to add to the site. We love their input! At the same time, we curate our offering to make sure that we only add items that solve a particular problem and are part of our nuisance philosophy. Otherwise it’s easy to get away from the original intent of the business. It’s hard to say no, but sometimes you have to pass on an item because it doesn’t fit the strategy, even if it’s something that people love. The good news is that as we deepen our relationships with our manufacturing partners, our customers can expect to see new products available for them to try and discover. We are excited to start rolling out that benefit.
Q: My only hesitation with a site like Hoseanna is that when I’m shopping for these types of products, I can’t help but be reminded of other types of products I need to pick up like vitamins, toilet paper, nail clippers, etc. and that forces me to leave Hoseanna and hit up Drugstore.com.
Aside from autoship, why is ordering from Hoseanna better than placing an order with Amazon.com or Drugstore.com?
TS: Amazon and Drugstore.com represent different challenges for our shopper. Amazon is like Walmart online – there are tons of options available. However, when it comes to consumer goods, you still have to cyber-sift through all the results before you can settle on an item. For example, if you want to buy a box of Playtex Tampons on Amazon, there are over 150 sellers (including Amazon themselves). Who do you buy from? Who has the best price? This is worse than going to CVS and scanning the shelves.
KCF: Drugstore.com has a closer overlap to our product offering (although they don’t offer pantyhose, which is a real nuisance item for women). In the early days of eCommerce, it was good enough to provide convenience and big selection. Today’s woman is more sophisticated and wants a relevant experience that speaks to her, even when she’s buying commodities. Even though woman are shopping for their basics on Hoseanna, the experience doesn’t have to be boring. It’s a pain in the ass to buy these products and we are adamant that women don’t have a ‘brown box’ experience when they shop with Hoseanna. We put a lot of time and energy into the content and little surprises that go in every box.
Image credit: Shutterstock/wrangler