MoNique Stevens is thinking inside the box
MoNique Stevens is more than an entrepreneur – she is a revenue generator for the island’s entrepreneurial community.
Ms Stevens is behind Bermuda Brand Box, which sells gift boxes containing a variety of items produced by local entrepreneurs.
To date, she has included products from 158 local businesses in her own entrepreneurial venture.
“And it’s growing,” Ms Stevens said.
She “stumbled upon” the idea for Bermuda Brand Box while organising Mother’s Day and Father’s Day giveaways in 2020 to generate brand awareness for her fashion design business.
Approaching businesses, she expected to include two or three companies in the giveaway – but soon had products from 13.
Ms Stevens said: “After the first giveaway, people were actually purchasing products from the new companies as a result of the giveaway.
“During the Father’s Day giveaway, one of the businesses purchased a box from me for $256 – and I realised there was a market for this service.”
The business really took off that Christmas, selling 60 boxes.
Ms Stevens said: “People loved the idea and the concept that they could support locals – and the convenience of it.
“From that, I bought my first branded boxes.”
Last Friday, on the first anniversary of Ms Stevens becoming a full-time entrepreneur, she filled her largest order to date – 120 boxes – turning the massive order around quickly with the help of her vendors.
Boxes come in two sizes, with smaller boxes $50 and up, and larger boxes $80 and up.
Ms Stevens said there are “boxes for any occasion”, including holidays and special events, and added that “more concepts are on the way”.
A small Mother’s Day box might include a scarf, bracelet, lip gloss, loose leaf tea, tea lights, soap, and handmade earrings.
A large box for visitors to the island might include a necklace, cup, T-shirt, honey, bath salts, loose leaf tea, a vial of pink sand, ginger beer, a bag of Ms Stevens’ own product, Bermuda Trail Mix, and more.
Each box is customised based on a questionnaire completed by the gift giver.
Ms Stevens said: “I tailor it to the recipient and that’s what makes it really special.”
Most times, she said, recipients have been previously aware of only some of the products in the box “so there is brand awareness within the box”.
She specialises in boxes for men, helping women to purchase gifts for their fathers or significant others.
In addition to producing boxes for local consumption, Ms Stevens has shipped to the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Ghana, Pakistan, and China.
She is at the halfway point of a six-month stay in Ignite Bermuda, the entrepreneurial accelerator programme.
Most purchasers to date have been individuals, but Ms Stevens said: “As part of Ignite, I’m looking to move into the corporate sector.”
The 34-year-old entrepreneur and mother of three, who previously spent seven years as a police officer first on the beat and then as parish constable for Warwick, said Ignite had been beneficial.
Ms Stevens added: “I have had to battle the doubt within myself up until today. Ignite has helped me come to an understanding of what my limiting beliefs were in order to progress myself and the business.
“I had to go back to go forward, to understand myself. It’s something I never knew I needed.”
Her mentor at Ignite is Laura Lyons, the manager of enablement.
Ms Stevens said: “I’m feeling great – I had my last ‘temp check’ meeting with Laura yesterday and it was groundbreaking. I had so much clarity after a three-month funk. I see the necessity of it now.”
She said she was “a doer” – but with the help of Ms Lyons and Ignite, had learnt to write down goals “instead of everything being in my head – and turn them into practical steps. By doing that, I’ll be able to appreciate my journey a lot more as well.
“I feel this business has the ability to take Bermudian entrepreneurs far beyond Bermuda, but also help with their recognition as well as their sales.”
She added: “The great part of the business is that there is always an interest to introduce a new local brand in our boxes for the consumer to find and become a recurring customer, not just for our business but for the new business as well.
“And that is the sweet spot.”