As a kid, Joanna Misunas loved growing up in sunny, sandy Santa Cruz, CA. As an adult, Joanna found herself as an ambassador of sorts to her home city, introducing fellow students at her acupuncture school to all the things that make Santa Cruz special. Joanna realized she could capture some of that magic in a Santa-Cruz-inspired gift box. Today, as founder of Sojourn Box, Joanna spends her days designing, marketing and refining her beautiful boxes filled with geographically specific goodies.
Joanna will be selling her Sojourn Boxes at the Bazaar at this year's SOLD OUT QB Connect 2017 in San Jose.
Joanna, tell us the story behind your business.
Sojourn Box was inspired by a culmination of things. First, I’ve always loved artisanal goods, beautiful aesthetics and trying new products. Second, I got a subscription for a beauty box called Birchbox, which I thought it was a really clever idea. I kept thinking about that subscription box! And third, when I was in acupuncture school, I found myself becoming the go-to source for all things Santa Cruz -- telling people where to go and what products to try.
About a week after realizing acupuncture wasn’t the path for me, I had the idea for Sojourn Box. I loved the idea of sharing a bit of the magic of my hometown with the rest of the world. My gift boxes contain things like locally made honey or jam, tea, chocolate and body care products. I also include a “local’s guide” to the featured city and a link to a list of top ten songs related to the city.
I guess I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit, although I didn’t ever plan to run my own business!
How do you spread the world about Sojourn Box?
I sell Sojourn Boxes mostly online. I also love going to craft fairs like the Renegade Fair in San Francisco, especially during the holiday season. I’ve dabbled in selling on Etsy, too.
As Sojourn Box has grown, I’ve cut back on going to shows in favor of fulfilling corporate orders. Companies love giving our boxes to employees, partners and clients.
Over time, I’ve found that wholesale isn’t a great fit for my business. I believe in paying fair value to the artisans who create the products, and there isn’t a lot of room for profit in the wholesale approach.
What’s it like to run a locally-based company?
I love how Sojourn Box has connected me to business owners and artisans in Santa Cruz and all over California. Since starting Sojourn Box Santa Cruz, I’ve added Los Angeles, Monterey, San Francisco and Silicon Valley, with more new cities underway. I didn’t anticipate feeling this level of connection and community. It’s like having a family in every city we feature.
For example, I work with an artisan who packages Jeffrey’s Best spiced pecans. I go to her home in Monterey, and I’ve met her husband and her cat. It’s really great to have a deep relationship.
I find that when I’m stressed out about fulfilling an order, people want to help me. There’s a beautiful symbiosis in working together.
What does a typical day look like for you?
Every day is different, and my business changes during each season. Right now, I'm redoing my website. I'm also returning emails about inquiries for holiday corporate gifting and making sure I'm ordering the specific products for each of these boxes. I need to have the supplies from the artisans to put the orders together.
My mind is always going. Even as I'm lying in bed, I'm thinking about what I have to do the next day. As an owner of a small business, I have to wear a ton of different hats. It can be stressful, but it’s also invigorating.
What do you hope to gain from attending QuickBooks Connect?
I’m so excited for QuickBooks Connect. I see it as a place for small business owners to connect, network and share ideas. Part of what I love about Sojourn Box is getting to celebrate artisans and other business owners, so I’m looking forward to making connections at the upcoming event.
I’ve found it’s helpful to compare notes with other business owners. We ask each other what’s working, what isn’t, what systems are best for shipping and how to source materials. Even though we own our own businesses, we can’t get all the answers on our own. The Internet is a helpful resource, but nothing replaces a recommendation from a person you know and trust.
Want to ask Joanna about how she’s connected with local artisans to build a business? Don't wait for QuickBooks Connect -- start talking right here in our QB Community. Leave your questions for Joanna in the reply space below!
As a lover and former resident of Santa Cruz, I am SO excited to check out these products and meet Joanna at QB Connect!
Thanks Audrey! I look forward to meeting you too and will definitely have some wonderful SC goodies for you to check out!
@jmisunas Yay! I have been wanting to share your story since we met at the holiday marketplace. And I love your story as much a I thought.... I just think it's so awesome that you are a small business supporting other small businesses so directly. Well done! Now... when can we get a Portland box? How can I help make that happen?!
Can't wait to catch up at QB Connect!
Leslie! Oh you are so sweet, I'm thrilled to be participating in this amazing event. I DEFINITELY can't wait to see you as I'm in the works to curate a handful of northwest boxes this year and would love to chat Portland with you. So glad you'll be there! See you in a couple of weeks! xx