I write in praise of Umbabox, a DC area startup company which takes you back to a time when you looked forwarded to seeing the mailman. Each month, for a small subscription, Umbabox will send you a present–a box filled with handcrafted objects nestling in colored crinkles of party paper. With Umbabox it can be your birthday every month–and you don’t need to remind yourself that you’re the one who wrote the check.
It works like this: you buy a 3, 6 or 12 month subscription for yourself or a friend and the company selects a lovely little something to surprise you with each month. I received my first box just after Christmas: a signed photo from September Wren which I will frame and add to the collection in my office, and a necklace made from string by a New York artist who specializes in recycling found and everyday objects. Truthfully, the Brooklyn Rehab piece was not really to my taste ( I like my bling, well, more blingy) but Gretel pronounced it cute and immediately made off with it. Anyhow, whether or not the contents of the box appeal, it is fun to receive something to unwrap and it feels good to support a struggling artist or two and, who knows, maybe the box will one day contain an early work from the next Picasso or Jonathan Adler or Philip Treacy. You just never know.
Whether or not Umbabox will make it big I really couldn’t say. It seems a bit precarious to find and keep subscribers, and to make a profit after the gifts have been sourced, wrapped and mailed but there is something endearing and wholesome about the concept and I wish them well. I suppose if they get enough pick up the artists will donate their works for free–charmed Umbabox customers like me are bound to check out their websites and may make other purchases.
I can’t help noticing that September Wren has some lovely gifts for Valentine’s Day. Buy one, plus an Umbabox subscription, for the woman of your dreams. She’ll love you for it.