Katie Rosen went from writer to business marketing guru, but you might be surprised to hear that prior to co-founding FabFitFun the mogul-in-making knew “next to nothing,” about starting a business. “This was a huge transition for me,” Katie shares. “I had over 10 years of experience as a writer. The editorial space felt very comfortable for me. But comfort hardly ever leads to true success.”
FabFitFun, a subscription box that delivers premium, full-size lifestyle products four times a year, is Katie’s most successful venture to date. Plus she says, “there’s been something truly exciting and satisfying about learning an entirely new skill set in my early thirties.” And the mom of two loves being an example for her daughters.
This past year FabFitFun nearly tripled its 2015 revenue, experiencing crazy growth margins. “I think investing in our team has been one of the leading sources of growth,” shares Katie, who also serves as the company’s Editor in Chief. She explains that in the past few years they’ve brought on “game-changing talent,” those that are “far smarter and more talented,” than Katie. That game-changing talent is predominantly female. 71% of the staff is female, their leadership (positions of director or higher) is 75% female, their senior executives (VP or higher) is 43% female, and their internal engineering team is 67% women. Katie notes, “Unfortunately, this is no the norm, especially in tech and startups, but we put real effort in finding and supporting talented women in our field.”
"Investing in our team has been one of the leading sources of growth."
From their fantastic marketing and editorial teams to their team of data scientists who work to “uncover the products that really make people happy,” Katie has made investing in top talent a priority. “Research reveals a strong link between trying new things and happiness,” she adds, addressing the company’s desire to inspire happiness and personal growth through discovery. “We strive to nurture that link. I think that is what is ultimately driving new growth.”
But those growth margins have not been without growing pains. There are plenty of other subscription services on the market. “One of the challenges we face is helping brands understand why we are different and honestly better,” she says. “Once they participate,” Katie says, “they get it.” Almost every brand that has participated has asked to come back and be a part of another box. There are also days when the mom spends more hours at the office than with her family. But again, the upside comes back to people and the culture FabFitFun has built. “I’m happy we have built a team of such talented, dedicated and nice people who continue to inspire me and light with me every day.”
No matter how many hours she clocks, family remains at the top of her to-do list. With a teething nine-month-old who wakes her up multiple times a night, Katie looks to an example set by her parents, both children of blue collar families who were the first in their families to go college. Both still work. “My mom was the true definition of an amazing, successful working mom,” shares Katie. “She got her PhD while I was in school but still found the time to be a great mom and encourage me every step of the way.”
“I have to believe that women can have a career while still balancing a wonderful family life,” Katie hopes. Though it means that her barre card is covered in cobwebs, dinner consists of stir fry and quesadillas, she’s fine giving up certain things if it means she’s home to cook her kids dinner and put them to bed. “That means I’m back on the computer at nine,” she admits, “but it’s worth it.”
In 2017 FabFitFun will focus efforts on more personalization and customization. Katie believes it is a core factor in satisfaction and growth. She’s also focusing on building on content to bring the program to life, which includes treated members to exclusive perks from partners throughout the year. She also believes that the subscription box model will continue to grow, even though a day subscription service pops up every day. “I believe less traditional forms of subscription services will continue to emerge. And the need for better and more personalized customer service will lead to innovations in the market.”
It’s hard to believe there was a time in Katie’s life when she thought her only real possible career was as a writer or editor. “It was my big dream,” she shares. “And it was very scary to think about doing anything else.” But embracing the change is part of life. Besides, shares Katie, “you can’t please everyone and you will be boring if you try.”