Move on over, FabFitFun — a subscription box full of Hamptons lifestyle items has arrived.
A mother-daughter duo from East Hampton has launched the Hamptons Box Club, a quarterly service that delivers “the look, feel, smell and taste of the Hamptons,” all in one box.
Nicole DiSunno says that during the COVID-19 pandemic, she and her daughter, Tessa Kohr, ordered quite a bit online. “We realized that we ordered a bunch of subscription boxes — so obviously we love them — and we were just looking at each other and saying, ‘Why isn’t there anything like this for out here? Everybody loves the Hamptons!’”
So they decided to create one themselves.
Subscription boxes offer a variety of items, usually with a common theme, as part of a recurring delivery. There are many subscription box services on the online marketplace.
Some give subscribers a choice of products to pick from, and others send a box of surprise goodies at regular intervals. Vendors take part because it offers a chance to widen their consumer base – they hope that if the subscriber falls in love with an item they never knew they wanted, they’ll become a loyal customer.
Some subscription services have a particular focus. They run the gamut from coffee and wine club subscriptions to skincare and beauty packages. BarkBox, for instance, sends monthly dog toys and treats. One that Kohr liked, in particular, was from Cavali Club, an equestrian subscription box containing items for horse and rider.
For the Hamptons Box Club, they source from right here in the Hamptons, as well as on the North Fork. “It depends on the seasonal theme,” DiSunno explains.
Last fall, they included apple chips from the Milk Pail in Water Mill, while Hampton Coffee Company provided a special fall blend. For the most part, they say, they work directly with local companies, while other items are purchased wholesale.
Their Fall box’s theme is the Hampton Classic Horse Show, where Kohr is a competitor. Since the Classic is held the week leading up to Labor Day, they chose some luxury equestrian-inspired items to help customers head into autumn.
They also always include a candle from the Montauk Candle Co., a small family business based in Montauk that uses soy wax and eco-friendly wicks, with a specific seasonal scent. In the recent summer box, the “Georgica” candle, named for the East Hampton Village beach, was a custom blend made specifically for Hamptons Box featuring a lemon citrus oil blend for a summer scent.
“And we always put in a cookbook from a local chef,” DiSunno adds. Kohr, like her mom before her, was both born and raised in East Hampton.
Kohr is a senior at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Connecticut, where she is majoring in finance. “I noticed that I really liked the marketing aspect of the business world,” she says.
DiSunno has worked as an executive for large companies but left to devote herself full-time to Hamptons Box. “It took me all these years to figure out that I can have my own business here,” DiSunno says. “It took me a really long time to find it, but we finally found it.”
After coming up with the idea, it took the pair about four months to get their idea off the ground, with their first box available in April of 2021.
While their first quarter was pretty slow, by the second quarter they were overwhelmed by orders. “I was not prepared for as many orders that came in, but it was a little bit busier and then it just kept building — and Christmas was insane,” DiSunno says. By spring, they sold out. “There was no way I could get more of the products that we had put in that box. I had to put sold out after four weeks of being open for spring.”
They try to keep the selling season for each box open as long as possible. Usually, they stop selling one box about a week before the next box comes out. For example, their Summer box will be sold through September 5, and the Fall box sales open on September 15 with shipping from the end of the month throughout the entire quarter.
Customers were not shy in telling them how disappointed they were that they couldn’t get the Spring box. Among the items in it were “a really nice charcuterie board;” cheese knives; exclusive teas from PlainT, a boutique tea company based in Southampton; and snacks from Lorna’s Nuts & Goodies, found at a local farmers market. “We try to do the majority of them from here,” Kohr says.
They do also mix in items from purveyors outside of the Hamptons if they find they are popular here or if they find a product they really love, such as Belgian chocolates made near Kohr’s college, Sacred Heart University in Connecticut.
“We always have items made here,” says DiSunno.
The number of items depends on the tier of the box. Hamptons Box Club offers three levels, named for three favorite East Hampton beaches: The Atlantic Beach Box consists of eight to 10 items, priced at $125 per quarter, and would retail for about $250. The Main Beach Box with 10 to 12 items sells for $245 per quarter, but would retail for more than $400; and The Georgica Beach Box, with 12 to 14 items, is priced at $385 per quarter. DiSunno admits it’s pricey, but says, “When you think about what each item retails in there, you’re like, ‘Oh my God, this $385 box is actually worth more than $1,000.”
Customers throughout the world have purchased the thoughtfully curated Hamptons Box subscriptions as word has spread on social media. (Their Instagram handle is @hamptonsboxclub.)
“We have people in the U.K., Dominican Republic, Australia, Singapore, Canada — everywhere. We were kind of shocked,” says Kohr.
“I thought it would just be people who went to high school here or people who lived here for a while or got married here or whatever. But I had no idea, ” DiSunno says.
Among the items in the Fall box is a beach plum jelly, an Amagansett Sea Salt Co.’s rosé wine finishing salt, local chef Peter Ambrose’s Endless Summer Peach BBQ sauce, and celebrity chef and East Hampton resident Ina Garten’s new cookbook, Go-To Dinners.
The mother-daughter team compile the boxes themselves in their dining room. “We do it as the orders come in and it’s me and my mom and if we can get friends or family to come over and help!” Kohr says. “We play music and just go through like an assembly line.”
Some of the items need to be packaged carefully. In a recent box, Himalayan salt plates were quite fragile. “So we had to add some extra wrapping around those and then it’s kind of like fitting together puzzle pieces,” Kohr says.
The reaction has been very positive so far, with people anxiously awaiting their next shipment. “It’s such a great gift too,” DiSunno says, but people mainly purchase them for themselves. A few real estate agents, who bought the boxes for clients as a closing or summer rental gift, ended up keeping the boxes themselves because they liked them so much.
“You feel like you’re treating yourself to something,” says DiSunno.
Orders can be placed online at hamptonsboxclub.com.
This article appeared as the cover story for the September 2022 issue of Behind The Hedges. Read the digital version here.