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Kelsey Manning, Communications Director for Beauty Box 5 and Lilee (aka two of the cutest subscription boxes around), spends her time coming up with makeup puns, engaging email copy, sassy social media posts, and major marketing plans. She offers some great advice for how to succeed on social media, tips for staying on-brand, and the importance of patience when it comes to success.
Name: Kelsey Manning Location: Austin, Texas Title: Communications Director Company:Beauty Box 5 & Lilee What it is: Beauty subscription boxes Educational Background: BA in electronic media from Texas State University
What inspired you to get your start?
I specifically started with BB5 when I moved back to Texas almost three years ago. I had previously worked in country radio in Nashville, Tennessee and when I returned, I was looking for writing-intensive jobs and decided to look outside music specifically. The first sentence of the job posting for my current position at Beauty Box 5 literally said “Do you like making puns and rocking a bold lipstick?” and I audibly said to my computer, “YES!” Upon learning I would be writing so much copy day in and day out and creating content with pretty products, I was hooked — and the rest is a very mascara-heavy history.
What does a typical day look like for you?
Every day is so wildly different, depending on what part of the month we’re in, but it always begins with a strong cup of Costa Rican coffee (the whole office is hooked!) and scrolling through my inbox. I sign up for every email newsletter I can because clever subject lines always inspire me and give me mental notes for future sales or specials we have coming up.
I get pretty ADD when the whole team gets into the office, because our creative energy feeds off of each other and we work in one big open space. So I try to tackle emails first thing, then move on to collaborating with the team on content for both boxes.
Mid-morning to afternoon is filled with photo taking, product testing, creating looks, reaching out to bloggers and affiliates, and working with brands on their specific messaging and social promotion goals. I always have another cup of coffee at 2 o’clock on the dot – kinda like a mental break and a little rush of energy in one – and take 10 minutes to scroll socials and like photos of fiercely blended eyeshadow. Before the day is up, I’ll check in with the team or our Asana boards about that day’s deadlines (of which there are many!) and order anything we need for the next day or week – whether it’s beauty samples for upcoming boxes, packing materials, inserts, or shop products.
What was the inspiration behind starting Lilee? How is it different than Beauty Box 5?
We started Lilee because we noticed that there weren’t a lot of boxes featuring full-size products on the market, and we liked the idea of giving a really beautiful presentation (and a stunning printed box!) that you could keep or gift! Lilee is lifestyle-based, too — everything from coffee to scarves, earrings, stationery, bags, candles, kitchenware and more — in addition to some beauty, which we’re known for. We like to think of them as “sister subscriptions” in that you might find a really awesome trendy highlighter in Beauty Box 5 and then discover a timeless piece of jewelry in Lilee – and both have their place on your face and on your vanity.
We have a lot of fun curating the themes for Lilee, too – everything is as cheeky and fun as possible — from Dinner Party (products with a food name, scrumptious smell, and this Truffle Zest I now can’t live without) to The Write Stuff (products in pencil or book form, from lipliner pencils to colored pencils and a pretty notebook) to Brunch Bash (a coffee scrub, champagne soap, a custom tea towel and so much more!).
If you could have given yourself a piece of advice when you started what would that be?
I would tell myself to be patient! Brand voice, a beautifully curated Instagram feed, confidence in your marketing, getting a fresh angle on a product shot — it all takes time, plus trial and error. Whenever I’ve tried to rush anything or perfect it immediately, I end up burnt out or disappointed. I think with social media moving a million miles a minute, we don’t always see the time and tears that went into an idea or brand, and think it happened overnight. The creative process of brainstorming and creating and editing and redoing is a long, tiring one — but it’s also how the magic (slowly) happens.
Would you do anything differently?
I probably wouldn’t take myself or my copy so seriously, to be honest. Beauty and lifestyle products are so fun, and I’m learning more and more how to express that in our branding (and in my personal makeup bag) every single day.
How do you define success?
I think success is adaptation, through and through. In addition to my previous new obsession with being patient, there’s so many 15-minutes-of-fame moments out there that are so tempting and so easy, but real success is innovating and staying in the game beyond one season, while staying true to why you started. Quite literally, working in a subscription model, we have the chance to make a fantastic mix of products and a theme that’s so on-point every month, and our success stems from that lineup of beauty, but also what we put together the next month, and the following month, and the following month. It’s a long-haul goal, but it’s worth it. (I also think any meme that makes me laugh and eyeliner wings that match perfectly are their own versions of ultimate success. Real talk.)
What do you think makes BB5 and Lilee stand out from other subscription boxes?
I think that we stand out because we really do listen to the comments! I started running our social accounts all by myself when I started (we’ve since grown, hooray!) and always passed on product recommendations, tweets, complaints, DMs, Facebook messages, and suggestions to the rest of our team, and we seriously do curate the contents of every box with our subscribers and their wants in mind. I drive home the point that we’re collaborative so strongly because it’s true — customer service works with our buying team and our graphic team and our web development team and our warehouse staff — and we share customer feedback in that, too.
Stemming from that inclusive environment, all our boxes contain the same products (with occasional variations in shades), so there’s a sense of community and less box-envy when you see another BB5 Babe or Lilee Lovely’s post on Facebook. Everyone gets to participate in the same beauty. I’d also argue that we stand out because we love any opportunity to use a funny caption — but I’ll let you be the judge of our humor.
I’m dramatic at times, but never more dramatic when I say that social media very much is our brand. We communicate with our subscribers, share the best ways to slay their selfies with that month’s products, act as cheerleaders for our monthly brands, and keep up with what our online communities want more of. Without social media, we’d be very much a mailbox novelty, but with it, we can be the makeup-guru-girlfriend you’ve always wanted.
How do you make sure you stand out on social media?
We plan out our posts with the help and input of our monthly brands, as well as the box theme, and because of this, we have strict guidelines for everything to look cohesive and, as is my favorite buzz phrase, “so on brand.” Team BB5 hopes that when you see our content, you know exactly where it’s coming from and that you want even more bright colors, cheery products, and emojis in your life. We also work really hard to be “real people” on our socials — not robots! Every response to a question asked, every “like” we give to a hot-fire makeup look we come across, and every giveaway winner is picked and double-tapped and answered by Team BB5.
What are your hobbies? What do you do when you’re not working?
I’m really lame, in that I totally watch makeup tutorials and read beauty blogs when I’m not working because it’s hard for me to leave that obsession at the office, but I’m also an unapologetically obnoxious music fan in my spare time. Living in Austin definitely spoils me with great record stores and incredible concerts and shows every night of the week, and there’s something so calming and exhilarating at the same time about seeing someone kill it with a guitar solo onstage, so you can usually catch me bopping around venues with my Girl Gang. I’m also a total nerd about cooking and am attempting a Julie-and-Julia with Chrissy Teigen’s recent Cravings cookbook and trying to master every single recipe inside. (Her guacamole is truly life changing.)
How do you balance your work with your personal life?
I’m still figuring this one out, but my major key is that I limit my screen time or checking emails on the weekend as much as possible, and especially before bed. I try my hardest to read a book before I go to sleep instead of scrolling Instagram because even though it’s so tempting to go see what people thought of the bronzer/highlight duo we just sent them at 11 p.m., those comments will still be there in the morning.
What’s next for you?
We have so many exciting changes coming to both Beauty Box 5 and Lilee in the next few months that I’m all but ready to spill, but suffice it to say I will be quite the busy gal, and when it comes to, say, fresh websites and rebranding, changes to the physical boxes themselves, and even a storefront here in Austin — I’m asking for all the good girl boss vibes. 😉