Tyler and Michelle Turk are originally from Sacramento. They came to the Fresno area and started their Crated With Love business in 2014. Photo contributed
Written by Breanna Hardy
One Fresno couple saw exponential growth in business last year during the pandemic. This year they were offered to collaborate with Disney+.
Crated With Love, founded by spouses Tyler and Michelle Turk, is a monthly date-night subscription box geared toward helping people reconnect in their relationships.
Before Covid-19, Crated With Love was doubling its sales every year. When the pandemic struck, it caused uncertainty as to how it would affect business. But in April 2020, the company saw more than 300% growth year-over-year on a monthly basis.
As couples were forced to stay home, the subscription boxes gave people a chance to reflect on areas that needed improvement in their relationships. The Turks were happy to be an alternative to a traditional date night, while helping couples grow.
Their explosive growth allowed Disney+ to reach out to Crated With Love early this year. Crated With Love collaborated with Disney+ on a watch box to go alongside the premier of the new Star Wars series, “The Bad Batch.” Crated With Love helped develop the promotional watch boxes, which went to influencers and celebrities to promote the show.
The watch box was filled with “The Bad Batch” themed products. Crated With Love’s May subscription box went inside the watch box. May’s theme was “a destination space.”
The box was designed to mimic cruise activities — in space. It also featured an artificial intelligence liaison that customers can scan. The artificial intelligence pops up and gives further instructions for the activities.
“We’re hoping this is a springboard for working with larger brands or creating more customized themes in the future,” he said.
The couple, originally from Sacramento, came to the Central Valley and started the business organically after seeking reconnection in their own marriage.
The challenges in marriage came at a time when Michelle was finishing her Master’s degree in marriage and family therapy. Tyler was finishing his Bachelor’s Degree in business with a focus in entrepreneurship.
“We were sitting on the couch one day. We were in the middle of the semester, we were both working full time, had a full schedule of classes, internships, you know, everything,” he said.
Turk expressed that his wife wondered why there wasn’t as much romance as when they dated. He said they were both so focused on schoolwork and getting their careers off the ground that the relationship was something they’d work on in the future.
“The more I thought about it, the more I realized that she was right. If I’m going to spend the rest of my life with this person, you know I have to invest in that relationship.” he said.
They decided to take $20, which he said was a lot at the time, to commit to a date night.
“We wanted to have some dedicated time to reconnect with each other,” he said.
After committing to the date night and seeing the benefits, they dreamt of offering it to other couples in the form of a monthly date night subscription box.
He said they posted the idea online to see who would benefit from the subscription. After two and a half weeks, they received $2,300 in sales.
They shipped out the first box in December 2014. The first few months were a humble beginning, he said. They ran to the dollar store to see what they could put in the box, and then printed out materials for the boxes.
He said they always tried to come up with ideas that were inspired by date nights they had. One was a disagreement on what they wanted for dinner — pizza or Chinese food. When they bought both and shared meals, it created a fun date night tradition for them.
“Whenever we’re coming up with new themes, we always look around us and see, you know, what have we done and how can we turn that into a box?” he said.
Every month they come up with a new theme to send out; he said they’re very intricate compared to when they first started sending subscriptions out. Now there are games, challenges and activities, some of which both people compete against each other to earn points.
The goal is to provide an immersive experience, he said.
“One thing we try not to do is we don’t want it to feel like homework and we don’t want it to feel like therapy,” Turk said.
But implementing activities helps improve areas of the relationship through play, or making a game therapeutic.
“Our goal is to be the No. 1 source of fun, unique, relationship-building products,” Turk said.
He said they started out as date night boxes, but they have been able to grow to include products that build relationships, like a conversation starter card deck and a dad jokes party game.
In 2022, the company plans to release more standalone products beyond the date night boxes.
“This is a great first step of showing that we have a very, very creative passionate team. Our joke is that we can turn a date night out of anything,” Turk said.