Welcome to The Wellness Edit, a Podcast & Blog series by 360 Botanics. In conversation with Donna Hay, founder of the UK’s first non-fiction book Subscription Box, WILDWOMAN. The ultimate self-care package, brought monthly to your doorstep.
Donna, please tell the readers a bit about about your background and how you ended up launching WILDWOMAN?
"I launched WILDWOMAN nearly two years ago because I felt it was the kind of product and service that I really needed at that time. Following a few life changing moments, losing my nan, various family members and a very good friend committing suicide, I had to take a long hard look at my life and work out what direction I should be heading in. So one night I googled ‘alternative therapy’ and up popped an 8 week Mindfulness and Meditation course. For the first 4 weeks I was like, this is not for me…! I can’t switch off my mind, but then I learnt that Meditation is not about that, it’s about focus and breath and clearing away any intrusive thoughts. I had some crazy experiences during the course, but I really got to see the benefits of Meditation and about being present.
I was given a book by my teacher, called ‘The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari’ by Robin Sharma, this book really changed my life! It was the first book of this type that I had read, and it led me on the path that I am now on. It made me remember my love and joy for reading and all things to do with books; the smell of them, the magic of visiting bookshops etc. and the feeling of being ‘present’ you know, when you are just sitting in your special place reading."
"I had forgotten along the way just how important books were to me. So off I went to Waterstones where I was always drawn to the Self Help section, and I would choose whatever I felt called out to me. My friends suggested I started a book club and I thought this could be a really nice way to talk to people about all the amazing books that I’d been reading, so I started up the WildWoman book club & from doing this I decided that I was going to launch a subscription box! Putting all of my own experience and the non-fiction books that I loved into a Self Care based box, to be delivered to people on a monthly basis, as a gift to remind them to take that time-out and to prioritise their own self care."
Talk to us about your Subscription Boxes, the Subscription Gift box industry and why you think they are so popular?
"The UK subscription-box market is still really in it's infancy, subscription boxes are huge in the USA where it all started and there are some really amazing ones like Crafting Club and Birchbox, but I'm not sure if WILDWOMAN will ever be as big as those, which is totally fine by me because I'd much rather we had 500 ‘super engaged’, happy subscribers, then a million unengaged subscribers with boxes piled up in their homes! I think it’s a waste and that doesn't really add up to the whole self-care, Well-being side of WILDWOMAN that I’m so passionate about.
The whole experience of a Subscription Box, whether it be for Men’s Razor’s or a Craft Box means that you are getting something that has been tailored specifically for your needs. We also all really love good post! I'm pretty sure that one of the joys of lockdown life has been when there's a little knock on your door from the post/delivery man!"
What’s typical in your monthly self-care subscription boxes?
"It’s really important that every book that goes into WILDWOMAN, is non-fiction, and that it covers a subject that affects your mental health. So every box is essentially themed, for example ‘Anxiety’ or ‘Sleep’. I'll then curate and source gifts that I feel will go with the theme, it could be an Aromatherapy Rollerball or a really beautiful candle or a bag of delicious Bath Salts! It’s not just about receiving a book and some extra bits, it’s meant to be a whole experience so that you can read the book and enjoy a nice relaxing bath, or drink a mug of calming tea. It's all very much connected. I always say the most important thing when you read a nonfiction book, is to do the work that’s included. There are always journaling prompts, Q&A’s, exercises & worksheets. If you do the work and you do the self-reflection, this will really benefit you."
I know that 'Journaling' is a big thing for you, can you touch on this for the readers?
"Absolutely, I think Journaling is something we should all be doing! There is nothing more powerful than your own written word to yourself, be it future-scripting where you see yourself in 5 years time, or even recording a mini podcast to yourself to listen back to. Journaling is non-prescriptive, just by sitting and putting your thoughts to paper in any way you want - it's magic! In a couple of days, a few weeks or even months time, you can go back to it and understand how you were feeling at that time. The reflection is just as potent and important as the journaling itself I think."
Tell me a bit about your own self-care practice .
"I like to think that I have good self-care practice most of the time, but don't get me wrong - there are times when I have to call myself up on it! I sometimes forget to just take a step back, which is actually the crux of Self Care. Whether it's just grounding yourself for a minute, or dedicating some daily time for reading, practicing a little meditation or going to a yoga class or going for a run. Whatever it is, I think that Self Care is whatever makes you feel connected to yourself."
Has Covid and lockdown changed the way you run your business?
"For sure, the business has shifted and I am thinking more about the online space. As much as I'm a huge believer in that too much digital is not a good thing, I think I need to do something to educate and inspire people to do more things for their mental wellbeing from their own homes in the on-line environment."
Have you got any advice for female entrepreneurs out there thinking about a startup right now?
"I would say just go for it! But, don't rush into it. Because, and I love this quote, ‘What is meant for you will not pass you by’ So don't rush it!
Building the foundations of your business are super important. Take care of the boring stuff early on, creating the right business bank account, setting up your email, registering the business, getting an accountant etc. Give yourself time to do those things and to do them well, so you don't have to go back and do them again!
The best piece of business advise I got when I started out, was from Marie Forleo’s online business school. (She’s a very successful entrepreneur in the US) and that was to just think of one customer and aim your business solely at them, because in the end we are all very similar. So I literally aimed WILDWOMAN at a friend of mine whom I met on a retreat in Bali! Having said that, it is really for anyone who wants to learn more about connecting to themselves. We have a WILDMAN Box and a WILDCHILD box for kids, so we have everyone’s mental health covered!"
I always say to anyone, if you have an itch, a burning desire to create something, that little itch is never going to go away. You've got to scratch it and that's why you should just do it, take the first step, like buying your domain name. By doing this you’ve marked your business and you've kind of set the territory.
Another bit of advise would be to surround yourself with people who will hold you accountable on the days when you feel you don't want to go on anymore. Also, take a listen to Holly Tucker - I love her podcasts! She’s the founder of Not on the High Street and now runs Holly & Co, she's got some great tips and inspirational stories."
What are you curious about right now?
"From a business point of view, I'm curious about what consumers spending habits have been like over the last 6 months. I think it will be really interesting when the research comes out. What have people been ordering that they may not have tried before?
From a personal point of view, I'm curious whether this new ‘slower’ way of life is actually a new beginning. I truly hope so! Because I do think there are lots of positives to come out of this for everyone. I don't think life will be how it was again, I just think this is a new way for us all now. We were destroying the planet, we were heading on a downward slope rather than an upward. So we’ve been given a chance to pick up the pieces. I know it sounds a bit ‘out there’ but I think the universe has given us a warning. If we don't change the way we treat the planet and we treat ourselves then, who knows what might happen?
It’s like Mother Earth is saying to us ‘thank-you’ for giving me a second chance and that’s super important to keep remembering, it’s our duty isn't it really?"
I like to end my talks with 6 quick-fire questions - here goes!
What inspires you?
That has to be my 9yr old niece! I can only imagine how difficult lockdown has been for her without her friends and no school, she has just taken it all on the chin and seems to be so positive! She practices gratitude every single day and she is super inspiring to me!
What makes you happy?
My family, my friends, my boyfriend, my dog! The people who are closest to me are the thing that make me the most happy. I also love being out in the sun!
The last book that you read?
The last fiction book I read was the second Harry Potter, I loved it! I can't believe I've never read them before!
What’s your favourite flower?
I love Dhalias, the ones that look like big pompoms! I've been growing them from seed. I'm very excited about one called ‘Penny Hill’ and I can't wait for it to bloom!
What's your favourite scent?
I don’t have a particular scent, I can only describe it as a really delicious smell on a really good looking man, kind of musky, ambery!
What are your favourite 360 Botanics products?
This is very hard for me because there's a lot that I love! I love the Deep Sleep Bath Salts, they are really amazing, super relaxing!
and I also love the Rose Radiant Facial Mist, it’s a perfect pick-me-up!
Thank's Donna, it's been a pleasure talking to you today & hearing all about how WILDWOMAN started, where the business is heading and everything in-between!
'Thanks for having me. It's been really fun!'
Blog produced by Shootlab