I first learned about Lost Crates from my forays to the 'Chatter' forum on the Fountain Pen Network. If you love pens then Fountain Pen Network is the place to visit! I joined the organization in 2008 and I find it to be one of the best run, most friendly sites in the cyber world. I may be prejudiced, nut that's my story and I'm sticking to it !
The concept of Lost Crates, having a 'crate' filled with imaginative fun goodies shipped to you each month, intrigued me. When I began to do some more investigating I became even more curious. Part of the order process, which you can play with and change each time if you want to, is to take a fun little test that gives Lost Crates a peek at your personality - making their selections for you more targeted. The test really intrigues me and I had to write and ask the one of the founding members about the test and about the company. Below you will find the questions I posed and the responses I got from founder Danny Levi.
|This is what you see when you open your 'Crate' Again, all of the personalization is very nice. The packing is shredded paper and the contents are wrapped with white string and tissue paper.|
1. How did you come up with the name "Lost Crates"? We chose the name Lost Crates because of the image that it created when we thought of it - this sort of rugged box/crate that has bounced around and accumulated things from across the US and the world, and at long last found its way to your door, full of new goodies.
2. Can a subscriber take "the test" every month is they want to mix things up? Subscribers can take the test as many times as they want. We try to mix things up as is so that users don't feel as though they have to re-take the quiz many different times in order to get a better variety.
3. Am I correct to say that there was no scientific background to the test then? It was predicated more on a choice of say 'cottage' style components versus 'new modern' products? I think that's a close rendition to what you've explained. We want the "personality quiz" to strongly indicate user preferences without being too scientific and specific. In terms of scientific background to the quiz, we did a good amount of user testing with the quiz and often talk about ways to improve it, questions to change, etc.
In terms of the quiz - we wanted to ask fun questions that we thought related to each customer's personality without relating specifically to the items that we are selling (i.e. the questions are not specifically about notebooks, pens, etc.). We know that not all of the users like all of the questions, and as you have seen from the copy above the quiz, we wanted the answer options to be a bit polarizing.
4. How did a group of you find fellow entrepreneurs to begin this company? Was it chance meetings or more of a structured search for similar minded people? Lost Crates came out of a Chicago area incubator (Sandbox Industries), so there were many people at the company already really interested in Lost Crates, and since launch we have added a couple more to the team.
The idea came from a discussion about all of the types of items that we are selling and how many great products exist that aren't always easily found in this industry. We want to help expose our customers to many of these really awesome products (which we ourselves are always using), and we chose to do it as a monthly subscription because we see it as people buying themselves a gift - the contents of the package are always a surprise to the customers.
5. Do you have stock of some - or all- items? DO you supplement as you find new things? We keep a limited inventory and are constantly adding to our product selection as we find new, awesome items!
|A personalized note telling you what's in your 'crate'.|
I also questioned the subscription process. Currently, a subscription is offered at a cost of $38.00 per month which does include shipping. I have to agree that the product value you get is at least that much if not more. For many of us (like me), spending $38.00 a month for beautiful surprised is just a bit too much for the budget to manage. In answering my question about subscription alternatives I received the following answer. We are currently considering other subscription options in addition to our monthly, cancel-at-any-time option, but nothing is set in stone yet. Hopefully we can ramp up development of that on the website and offer some new options in the not-too-distant future. Being able to go bi-monthly would make this a possibility for me - and I would enjoy the expectation of receiving this beautifully presented 'Crate'. I think that this would make a very special gift package for a special occasion. Since you can order a month and cancel at any time I think this would be a possibility. I've read of people who change their 'test' results each month to change up their product categories. That sounds like a cool idea to me.
Lost Crates is, to me, all about their very creative marketing. I love the special, personal touches and I was really thrilled with the selection of useful, fun and unique products I received. Yes! If I could afford it I would be a regular subscriber.
|Photo above: The first two notebooks that caught my eye when I opened the crate: left a seriously cool 'DeComposition Notebook' and right an Archie Grande|
|The DeComposition Note with Soy ink from Michael Rogers Bookinding. This one has already become a favorite and think I may just have to get more for gifts.The notebook is made from re-cycled paper and uses soy inks. I really like graph pages!|
|The 'titles' of these little gems fit every occasion !|
From the very Swedish, terribly refreshing company, Archie Grand, comes one of the nicest little notebooks I've seen in a while. The buzz from their website:
Introducing the Swedish notebook corporation, Archie Grand: For Friend & Foe. Archie Grand produce high quality notebooks for shopaholics, artists, fashionistas and 25 other breeds of charlatans, scoundrels and luminaries.The notebooks are made with great care given to their quality. They have a rigid hardcover, are thread sewn and have a matte leather-like lamination. Each notebook contains 120 blank pages of high quality paper that soaks up the ink perfectly.
The US website for information and ordering is slightly different than the original (a link for the original is highlighted above). Even the websites are full of color and fun. The smooth paper in the notebook is fountain pen. The quality of a notebook's paper becomes more of a consideration when you are an inveterate fountain pen user like I am. Things like bleed-through & ink feathering become more of an issue than then if you use a ball, gel or maker pen.
|The bold label of the Archie Grand|
These choice little "Susy Jack"magnetic clips were a real appealing addition to the Crate. A simple idea that really fills a niche. The magnets on the back are powerful enough to hold hold what you clip on.
|As these simple instructions show this notebook from Revolver Bound Books 'revolves' and gives you ruled pages on the black side and blank paper on the blue side. This is one fun, useful & stylish little notebook!|
This is one of the most unique components in my Crate and I was instantly enchanted! I've never seen a notebook anything remotely like this one. I suppose the principle has been around for many, many years but I've never seen it used in this capacity! It made me think of those funny little "turn-it-inside-out' wallets that were popular and almost gag gifts many years ago. There's no gag about this treasure of a notebook. You have one notebook that has two colors and both blank and ruler paper. Once again the paper is good quality, thick, thoroughly pen friendly paper.
They are made by Revolver Bound Books and come in two sizes & several color combinations. Mine is a small size ( 4" X 5") with 64 pages of ruled and 64 pages of blank paper. They also offer a 5" X 7" model. I think this is one of the unique journal or notebook products that I've come across. DH asked asked why you would use it - I replied "let me count the ways! and how can not be totally impressed?!"
Next to the last item that was nestled in my Crate, may have been the smallest thing in the Crate but it is by no means the lest appreciated! These sweet, colorful Orange Beautiful letterpress gift tag assortment is delight! I was so excited to get them out of the package and feel them! What a treat! I love letterpress and I love orange - so I knew I would love the cards even before I opened the package. They are are beautifully crafted, color coordinated - just perfect! I'm going to have to go and browse more of their product line.
The final thing that I unearthed from my Crate was this pen with the art of Joshua Davis on it. It's a product distributed by the Spanish company Miquelrius. I was actually thrilled to get it opened to try it since I am on a new quest for the perfect pen to use on art journal pages. It works smoothly and writes well over many different surfaces including paint, matte medium, acrylics, watercolor etc.
I am quite impressed by Lost Crates. They have found a niche and they re filling their niche market well. I have not heard of any of the brands that were enclosed in my Crate. Their product lines are eclectic and have a decidedly International flavor. The marketing scheme of Lost Crates is equally unique and is, I believe a work in progress. The company was kind enough to send me a Crate for review but the things I have said about all of the products are completely honest and would have been the same if I had found and bought the products myself.
I am really hoping that the will add different subscription categories so that I can subscribe to get a Crate full of cool, unique, useful things to play with shopped to me with care and flair! I may just order a holiday Crate - or maybe it would make a fun gift for the holidays. One way or the other I think that the folks at Lost Crates are onto a great idea. I can almost feel the energy and dedication of the the Lost Crate team.
Single words that can explain my impression of a Crate: cool, colorful, useful, innovative, personalized. The Crates really are a well thought out offering of items that would please everyone and any one. The composition of your Crate are selected based on your responses to their fun quiz. What a great "perk-me-up" this whole idea is. Well done Lost Craters! Thanks for the happy moments!