Posted on

Every three months, Israeli entrepreneur Itai Schimmel ships a bit of the Holy Land to thousands of evangelical Christians in America.

Artza, the artisanal subscription company he founded in 2020, means “to the land” in Hebrew. Evangelical Christians are a target market because many support Israel as a nation.

“It’s all about connection,” Mr. Schimmel said in an interview. “People feel very connected when they’re receiving Artza boxes. They feel very connected to history and to the Bible, because these are gifts that actually came from Israel, from where the Bible happened, but on top of that, you feel very connected to the person that made the product, who, by buying the boxes, you’re supporting.”

Since its founding, Artza has shipped more than 85,000 quarterly subscription boxes containing six to nine products from Israel and cities in the Palestinian Territories. Each box costs between $63.50 and $80.50, depending on the number of items.

Products include hand-crafted items, foods, spices and recipes, as well as home decor items, games and limited-edition art items. The Christmas-themed box from late 2022 included a table runner, a carved Nativity scene, lavender toffee, an ornament, an herbal tea blend, carob syrup and “body butter” for winter-damaged skin.

While the products originate in the Holy Land, the firm ships items in bulk and distributes individual packages from a U.S. warehouse, cutting the shipping cost to roughly 11% of what it would cost to mail a box from Israel.

Supporting those local artisans, candle makers, food creators and other makers is another factor in Artza’s business model. During the pandemic, the firm delivered more than $1.6 million to small businesses in Israel, much of it at a time when tourism dollars were scarce.

The selected products center on a given city or region in Israel. In late 2022, a Christmas-time box featured products from Bethlehem, where Jesus was born, as well as Nazareth, the Galilee region and Jerusalem.

“So very often people cry when they open the box,” Mr. Schimmel said. “I knew we were providing a connection, but we didn’t know the effect it would actually have on people.”

He said the unboxing experience is “immersive” and often involves a family opening the package together.

“It’s something which is super-educational,” Mr. Schimmel said. “It’s really fun … it’s kind of something that kids can really get involved in.”

The concept of subscription boxes — often in the form of meal kits but also arriving as “curated” selections of clothes, beauty aids or even children’s books — is a growing industry.

Market research firm IMARC Group estimated global revenues for the sector at $18.8 billion. Consulting firm McKinsey & Co. said 55% of subscription box customers choose curated product subscriptions.

Mr. Schimmel said his firm is “working on creating a marketplace so that people can come and be able to buy a whole array of products outside of the subscription box,” because customers like a given item so much they want more.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *