Sarah Forst, a former special education teacher for Chicago Public Schools, was under a tight deadline to sell Teacher Care Crate, a monthly self-care subscription box for teachers.
She was pregnant with her second baby and would soon have two children under 2 years old.
She was already running The Designer Teacher, where she used her design degree to create printable classroom resources.
Both bootstrapped businesses made about the same amount of profit, but The Designer Teacher was far more passive and didn’t have strict monthly deadlines. Knowing she needed to let one go, Forst set out to find a buyer for Teacher Care Crate in October 2021.
She listed it on MicroAcquire (now Aquire.com) and Empire Flippers, two popular online marketplaces for businesses. But despite generating a 6-figure profit for three years in a row, months passed without serious interest from a buyer Forst felt confident in.
“I started to think it would be impossible to actually sell or that I’d have to sell it for way less than what it was worth,” she said.
Growing Teacher Care Crate to $150,000 in annual profit
Forst launched Teacher Care Crate in 2018. It was a product of her former teaching experience.
“I learned about the importance of self-care the hard way,” she wrote on her website.
The monthly subscription crates included inspirational art, bath and body items, trendy accessories, tasty treats and more. At the time of the company’s sale, they started at $27.25/month, a savings for the consumer because the collective items typically retailed for $60 or more.
Members could subscribe month to month or sign up for a three- or six-month prepaid plan. Teacher Care Crate also offered prepaid gift subscriptions. Shipping was free.
Most of Teacher Care Crate’s customers initially came from The Designer Teacher’s existing audience of teachers, which Forst founded in June 2017, according to her LinkedIn profile.
The Teacher Care Crate also attracted subscribers organically through social media, especially Instagram. Additionally, Forst sent boxes to teacher influencers, who shared the product with their audiences. She said she never did any significant paid advertising.
For the first two years, Forst packed all the boxes in house — literally, in her house. When she got pregnant with her first child, she turned to a fulfillment company to pack and ship the boxes.
“I knew I needed to let go of control somewhat and outsource fulfillment in order for the business to grow, but that was really challenging for me,” she recalled.
She later hired a virtual assistant who mostly helped with customer service.
At the time of sale, her company was sending out 1,000 to 1,200 crates each month, earning between $100,000-$150,000 in profit.
After months on the market, Teacher Care Crate finds a buyer
After Teacher Care Crate sat on the market for several months, Forst began reaching out to advisors. That’s when she found Christine McDannell, founder of the digitally focused business brokerage, The Magnolia Firm.
“Christine was the only person who seemed willing to just completely tell me what needed to be done in order to close the sale,” said Forst, who was six months pregnant at this point in the process. “In a male-dominated area, she was really a breath of fresh air and met me where I was, helping me with everything I needed but without talking down to me.”
Initially, Forst was nervous to publicly share that she was selling, but McDannell encouraged her to list on BizBuySell, another marketplace, and to post in Facebook groups that might appeal to her target buyer. She posted in three: a teacher-business owner group, a women’s product-based business owner group and a subscription box owner group.
“I got so much interest, and that’s where most of my serious potential buyers came from,” Forst said.
Ultimately, Forst had three offers, and she went with Christina Tatsuyama, a small business owner who grew up in a family of teachers, according to her Etsy profile.
Within three weeks of meeting McDannell, the sale was wrapped up in March 2022.
“I was so relieved and happy when it was all over,” Forst said.
Now, Forst focuses her time on The Designer Teacher — and raising her little ones.