Shipping Out Hugs
Me To You Box sends curated care packages to distant loved ones
Sometimes the best gifts are the ones you give “just because” – unexpected gestures that let people know you’re thinking of them no matter how far away they are. Annyssa Cantor and Brianna Ricks, sisters separated by distance, have always sent each other gifts just because, and that sentiment is at the core of Me To You Box, their new care package business.
Me To You Box offers clients the option of sending a curated care package to a loved one away from home, on either a monthly, occasional or one-time basis.
“Brianna and I have always mailed little things to each other’s children just to say I love you,” says Cantor, 43, from her Wyckoff home, where she assembles the boxes that then ship all over the country. “Our father used to sign his cards ‘just because’ when we were kids, and that always made us feel special,” she says.
Though Ricks, 45, a mother of three, lives in California, the sisters have built a thriving business as long-distance partners in just a few months.
The majority of their boxes are shipped to college students, so the options are largely based on a collegiate schedule. “We offer three different types of boxes right now,” explains Cantor. “There’s a Monthly Box, where you can choose to send just one month or all eight months of the collegiate year, and we also offer an XOXO Box and our All-Nighter Box.” They’re available for either male or female recipients, with items geared towards what a young adult might want and need when they’re away. Details for the different boxes are available at metoyoubox.com.
“The contents of a Monthly Box are a surprise and every month is different,” says Cantor, who carefully selects each item with Ricks based on several categories. “We do a tech item, health and beauty, a trendy gift, a snack and a dorm essential,” she says, adding that while clients cannot customize the items in a $34.99 Monthly Box, they can go online and see what’s inside once the boxes ship at the beginning of the month. “We have different add-ons, like cookies and wallets, so people can customize that way,” Cantor notes. Every box also includes a personalized message from the sender.
In response to parents asking for a special package to send to children they miss terribly, they created the XOXO Box, a one-time box for $59.99, which they describe as an extra special hug from home. “We put in items like a cozy Sherpa fleece blanket, socks, some Brownie Brittle, little comforts that say I love you,” says Cantor.
The All-nighter Box, for $49.99, contains study essentials like a travel coffee mug, organic energy chews, USB memory stick and Badger focus balm, all designed for students preparing for exams.
“When we started this we decided
to make it premium and offer full-sized items from really great companies,” says Cantor. “We wanted each box to feel like a gift and not just a box of stuff.” To that end, the sisters spend countless hours planning what to put inside. “We’re constantly calling companies, going to gift shows, searching Instagram for new partner businesses and looking for the latest trends,” Cantor says, adding that they were amazed by the response from companies they reached out to for items. “Businesses like PACT Wear and JAFRA cosmetics have been so supportive and were excited to partner with us.”
Cantor also noted that they depend on feedback to fill boxes. “We survey the kids after they receive a box and ask what they liked or didn’t like and what they’d want to see in the next box, and we use those answers to curate the packages as we go.”
When they launched in June of 2016, Cantor and Ricks were flooded with requests for a box parents could send to kids at sleepaway camp. So this summer, they’ll have a one-time Camp Box that will include ten special items campers would want. “We’ll do things like earbuds, a wet brush, socks and a reusable water-bottle. We won’t include any food since many camps have restrictions on that,” Cantor says. Though Camp Boxes can’t be ordered until kids have actually left for camp, details about the Camp box are already on their website.
The philanthropic sisters also wanted a charitable end to their business, so they’ve partnered with Julia’s Butterfly Foundation, a Wyckoff-based non-profit dedicated to improving the lives of terminally and chronically ill children and their families.
“The foundation’s resources go towards great causes, like putting a
“BRIANNA AND I HAVE ALWAYS MAILED LITTLE THINGS TO EACH OTHER’S CHILDREN JUST TO SAY I LOVE YOU.” Annyssa Cantor
wheelchair lift into a van or paying the hotel bill for a family whose child is getting treatment out of town. So we’ll be giving them a portion of our profits,” Cantor says. They’ve also donated boxes to numerous charities including Oasis, a Patterson-based women’s shelter and NephCure, which supports kidney disease research, as well as many school fundraisers. “We even heard from a woman who couldn’t afford a box but wanted to send something special to her husband in the Navy, so we tailored a special box for him and sent it overseas for free,” she says.
Though Cantor and Ricks have always discussed being business partners, none of their ideas felt right until this one. “Brianna called me on her way home from mailing a care package to her daughter who’s at Syracuse University. She said she had a great idea for a business and that was it,” recalls Cantor, a mother of two, who gave up her career once she had kids. “We’re best friends and we work really easily together so the distance isn’t a problem. We figure it out.”
And they’re both glad they waited for the perfect opportunity to do something special together. “A young girl just told me that every time she opens one of her boxes it warms her heart,” Cantor says. “We’re having so much fun doing something that makes others feel good. There’s nothing better than that.”
COAST TO COAST Despite the distance, Annyssa Cantor and her sister Brianna Ricks remain close siblings and business associates.