The Washington Post

Umba Box, D.C.-based gift company, teams up with Facebook

Lauren Thorp, Founder and chief executive of Umba Box. (Jeffrey MacMillan/Capital Business)

The items will be sold through Facebook’s new Gifts feature, which the social media giant showed off this afternoon. One hundred vendors, ranging from gourmet food companies to baby goods retailers, have teamed up for the program.

“It’s very exciting,” said Lauren Thorp, who founded Umba Box in October 2011. “We started talking [with Facebook] at the end of July. It’s all moved very fast.”

Facebook users can buy gifts by clicking a link on friends’ profiles or by going to the birthdays section of their news feed. Once users choose and pay for a present, their friend is notified of the purchase and the item is shipped.

Thorp said she expects the company’s revenue to increase from $30,000 per month to $2 million per month as a result. Umba Box currently has 1,000 subscribers a month — a figure that she said could grow 10-fold in a matter of days, Thorp said.

The company’s subscription-based model allows customers to order monthly packages for a flat rate of $25. Thorp includes two or three handmade gift items, ranging from notebooks to jewelry, in every shipment.

Abha Bhattarai covers local retail, hospitality and banking for The Washington Post. She has previously written for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Reuters and the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times.



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