Pretty Present

Umba Box founder Lauren Thorp never envisioned running a tech startup focused on handmade goods. “My background is in finance, and the bulk of my corporate career was working for an international development government contractor in Washington, D.C.,” Thorp says. “I worked on budgets and forecasts.” 

All of that changed in early 2011 as Thorp was planning her wedding. “I found myself needlessly spending hours and hours sourcing handmade products for the ceremony and reception. There was no way to easily discover beautifully crafted handmade products,” recalls Thorp.

As Thorp shared her frustration with others, she realized she was not alone in her opinion that many online marketplaces for handmade goods are cluttered with low-quality tchotchkes, making it difficult to find quality items made by artisans. Seeing an obvious gap in the market, Thorp created Umba Box as a way to curate high-quality handcrafted goods and allow people to discover talented artists. “We spend our time finding the best products available so the consumer doesn’t have to,” she says.

Subscribe to Umba Box during the month of July and receive 50 percent off the first box. Visit and enter AMERICAN50OFF at checkout.

The subscription-based service delivers a monthly package containing two to three handcrafted items. Featured pieces can range from stationery screens printed by hand and luxurious bath products to unique jewelry and products that add charm to any home. “We make sure each product lives up to our high-quality standards, and we work with the artists to provide the most value possible to our customers,” Thorp says.

Subscribers aren’t the only ones happy with the service. Many of the artists whose products have been included in an Umba Box have reported an uptick in their sales after being featured. Thorp knows that the artisan community plays a huge role in the success of her company, so she strives to provide increased exposure for talented artists. “Each box contains stories about the artists who crafted the products, allowing consumers to connect with the maker of their new goods,” says Thorp, who often features artists on the Umba Box blog, as well.

Thorp and her team may be on to something with their community-minded approach. Since 2011, Umba Box has grown rapidly (with a very modest marketing budget), increasing subscriptions organically through word-of-mouth, social media campaigns and referrals from satisfied customers.

Umba Box offers a variety of subscription plans. Customers may choose to treat themselves to an ongoing month-to-month opt-in/opt-out plan. For gift-givers or those seeking a longer-term commitment, a 3-, 6- or 12-month prepaid subscription may be the way to go. With subscriptions starting at $23 per month, the service is also very affordable. 

American regularly works at a grassroots level with small-business customers who have innnovative ideas to help achieve success. For extended coverage on Umba Box, visit

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