We had the good fortune of connecting with Michelle Soto Scerbo and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Michelle, what are you inspired by?
I am inspired by those that overcome adversity, and continue to show up as the best versions of themselves in spite of it all. It’s not just the powerful CEOs, authors, or favorite professors who inspire me. I’m inspired by the people around me — my autistic son, my resilient friends — whose immense courage in turn inspired me with the courage to create and run my own business, and continues to inspire me each day to lead with perspective, purpose, and integrity.
What should our readers know about your business?
Unlike other gifting companies, The Little Black Box® is a truly bespoke service, really elevating what it means to give a gift. In addition to our pre-curated boxes (which we have available for nearly any occasion you can think of) we are launching our Build Your Own Box feature this year, giving the consumer complete creative control over the gifting process, including the ability to purchase their favorites as single items. We are also launching our luxury personal shopping service, with a concierge team that will be curating ultra high-end, one-of-a-kind custom boxes.
Most importantly, we founded The Little Black Box® to make meaningful gifting easy for all while giving back to the communities around us. We place uplifting other women and small businesses at the center of everything we do, sourcing primarily products that cannot be found via large distributors, and donating a portion of each purchase to Alternatives for Girls. To expand the community impact of The Little Black Box®, we created Citizen Society, our very own product line and community activism arm of The Little Black Box®. Through Citizen Society, we work with unique grassroots nonprofits around the country, like The LEWIS Registry and The Trevor Project, not only through donations but also through active engagement with the causes they bring to light.
Getting to where we are now business-wise was certainly no easy task. There are challenges involved with every step of growing a business. As women founders, we have certainly found it more difficult at times to be heard or taken seriously, a challenge that only made us pursue our goals harder, and stay even more committed to our mission. When I was in the early stages of building the company, a friend of mine gave me a piece of advice that stuck with me: let the company evolve in an authentic and organic way, and don’t restrict your imagination. The Little Black Box® and Citizen Society are truly authentic extensions of my partner Carrie and I, and reflect both what we value and what we desire to give back to the world. We created these brands based on items and services that we ourselves wanted, and built the idea of reciprocity (giving back to the community with every purchase) into the very fabric of the companies.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
There are so many fun things to do in Los Angeles. One of my absolute favorite things to do with friends when they are in town is to take them out for a day of shopping and lunch to Abbot Kinney in Venice. I also love the Farmer’s Market at The Grove for either lunch or dinner – you can find so many types of cuisine to try there. Koreatown is great for some of the best Korean BBQ you will find at Park’s, and the amazing Broad Museum is not far away. An afternoon at the Malibu Winery for a wine tasting is always an absolute must as well! Another favorite activity of mine is hiking in Malibu, followed by Cafe Habana for some delicious Mexican food and a skinny margarita at the Malibu Country Mart. Aviator Nation in Malibu is one of my favorite spots for casual shopping, which is always fun to follow with a few cocktails at the Malibu Beach Inn and maybe even an indulgent dinner along the ocean at Nobu.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I have been more than fortunate in having an incredible amount of support from so many incredible individuals and organizations during the launch of The Little Black Box® and Citizen Society. Effie Tanji from Bodewell Candles came into my life during the craziness of COVID, and from the moment I met her, she has shown me what it truly means to have a beautiful work/life balance. The way Effie is able to juggle motherhood while running her company and still staying creative is inspiring, and her calmness and attention to detail (both in business and family) make her an amazing example for every career-driven woman. Malery Vinal from Graffiti Library has been a constant source of support during the entire process of launching the business, and her fearless attitude always inspires me to always push myself even when I think I have reached my limits. Rachel Ezra from Sotheby’s Real Estate is a true powerhouse, always showing up to lunch with a business idea for me or an order for boxes. I have also been working closely with Dr. Güez Salinas and Iliana Arbeed who, in addition to introducing me to their nonprofit The LEWIS Registry as a community partner, have contributed their business expertise to help me scale the company in new and meaningful ways. Each of these very special people have played and continue to play very vital roles in the success of The Little Black Box®.
Marilyn and Olive Media