What’s the charm of subscription boxes? – HYPE finds out

By Rachel Chan

Subscription boxes are all the rage among YouTubers, bloggers and anybody intrested in fashion, food, gadgets, geeky collectibles, and even adult toys. It first started with Birchbox, a grooming and beauty subscription box based in New York City created by Hayley Barna and Katia Beauchamp in 2010.

What could be better than having all your favorites in one stash? That’s the charm of a subscription box.


Now, Singapore is finally catching onto the trend, birthing the popular Lowinsky and BlackBox subscriptions aimed at beauty and fashion enthusiasts. But if cosmetics and clothes are not your cup of tea, here are two affordable and less mainstream Singapore-based boxes worth a second look!


For the Bookworm: Carpe Librum

Excited by the idea of owning your very own mini bookstore? Drawn to aesthetic-looking arrangements? Then Carpe Librum may tickle your fancy.


This bi-monthly book subscription box was founded in 2015 by Huda Ramlee, 29, and Azura Jumari, 31. For both of them, it was the passion for reading at a young age that drove them to create the subscription service.

Carpe Librum's hipster-style packaging draws the interest of youths.
Carpe Librum’s hipster-style packaging draws the interest of youths.


“Singapore’s book community is not very big so we want to help grow that,” Jumari said. “We were very inspired by the book subscription boxes overseas such as Owlcrate, but [they’re] very expensive. So we thought of starting our very own book subscription box.”


Every 2 months there’ll be different themes such as “Books & Tea” and “Magic”. At $35 per box, subscribers will receive a novel and 4 to 5 bookish items related to the theme.


“We crack our brains very hard and brainstorm as we try to make each box more interesting and better than the previous one,” Ramlee said. “After deciding on the theme, we then decide on what kind of merchandize [are suitable] and worth the money.”

The July/August edition of Carpe Librum is themed in the trademark red and white colors of Singapore's flag.
The July/August edition of Carpe Librum is themed in the trademark red and white colors of Singapore’s flag.


To celebrate National Day, the July/August 2016 box is themed “Made in Singapore”. It includes an autographed copy of Let’s Give It Up for Gimme Lao! by Sebastian Sim, a “Kiasu Singaporean” notebook, a limited edition of an ikat hand-woven bookmark, a Singlish sticker pack, 6 “Complain King” pencils, and a 15% and 20% voucher for Epigram Books and BooksActually respectively.


For the Health Junkie: BoxGreen

Admit it, we’ve all been guilty of indulging in sinful snacks while convincing ourselves that we would stop after the next piece ­– and then finish the said snack anyway.


Such situations inspired BoxGreen, a healthy snacks subscription box and brainchild of Walter Oh, Andrew Lim and Fai Wong.

With BoxGreen, healthy snacking is the way to go!


Walter shared that he and Andrew “had to do something about the quality of snacks” in their office pantry, which led to the creation of BoxGreen, with Fai joining the team a few months later.


“The idea is for people to have access to a healthier lifestyle by offering healthier options of snacks compared to the junk food available everywhere,” said Walter.


“We have an in-house nutritionist and she goes through all the [nutritional values] of our snacks to make sure that what we are feeding our subscribers are healthy and wholesome for a balanced lifestyle,” he added. “We want them to know what they are putting in their body, so they feel good about it.”


BoxGreen offers monthly, bi-weekly and weekly subscription plans, all priced at $19.90 per box. Salty, sweet or naturally flavoured, there is a myriad of over 30 snacks to satisfy every palate.


For every box, subscribers are allowed to select four different snacks, which will each come in 3 servings. A note containing a message from BoxGreen and information about the chosen snacks is also included.


“We don’t curate boxes. Instead, we let our subscribers choose whatever snacks they would like to have on our website or we recommend snacks tailored to their taste or dietary preference,” Mr Oh explained.

Quirky Quinoa Puffs & Friends, (dried) Cheng Tng, Shitake Mushrooms, and Goji Berries & Cream Granola. These flavors contain an explosion of flavour with every mouthful, making healthy snacking surprisingly enjoyable.


Apart from influencing subscribers’ eating habits one healthy snack at a time, BoxGreen also works with Willing Hearts, a beneficiary in Singapore, to send a free meal to the underprivileged with every box sold.