How Rebel Girls Has Empowered Millions Across 75 Countries in Only 3 Years [Case Study]

Learn how children-focused media company Timbuktu Labs launched three Kickstarter campaigns for their record-breaking book series Rebel Girls by partnering with ShipBob to ship backer rewards and fulfill online orders.


Customer Profile

Rebel Girls celebrates the lives of extraordinary women past and present. Known for their 2-part book series, “Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls,” each with 100 stories of inspirational women who have changed the world, they are determined to help every girl in the world dream bigger, aim higher, and fight harder.

ShipBob customer Francesca Cavallo, Co-Author of Rebel Girls and Co-Founder of Timbuktu Labs

Key metrics:

  • 3.5 million books sold to date
  • 33,417 backers on Kickstarter
  • $1,760,819 raised across 3 Kickstarter campaigns
  • 20,000 backer rewards across 75 countries ShipBob shipped for one campaign
  • 3 holiday seasons having ShipBob fulfill orders

Rebel Girls embodies the belief that every girl has the right to grow up knowing that she can be anything she wants. “Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls” is the two-volume collection and global phenomenon written by Francesca Cavallo and Elena Favilli that has set the trend for non-fiction, feminist books.

Moved by the lack of role models for girls in fiction and film, their mission is to empower the next generation by helping them see the Rebel Girls all around them. Rather than bedtime stories that revolve around the fairytale princess who waits around for her prince, these books cover aspirational women from different walks of life with diverse achievements — from Serena Williams and Malala Yousafzai to Marie Curie and Queen Elizabeth I.

To appeal to children, they describe the feats of history’s most impressive women in fairytale style — the only difference being these stories are 100% true.

But before they ever shattered Kickstarter records or sold over 3.5 million copies independently, they were a team of two women on a mission set out to change publishing.

Favilli and Cavallo launched Timbuktu Labs, a children-focused media company, and their first product was Timbuktu Magazine, the first iPad news magazine for kids. By regularly engaging with their online community, the co-authors were able to test their ideas and refine their book to ensure its success.

They’ve since launched a podcast that elaborates on the stories featured in the books and converted the books into an audiobook narrated by Alicia Keys and other strong women.

We sat down with part of this female-led and community-powered team to hear more about their road to success.

Shipping backer rewards with a 3PL after massive Kickstarter success

As told to ShipBob by Francesca Cavallo, Co-Author of Rebel Girls and Co-Founder of Timbuktu Labs.

How Rebel Girls has Empowered Millions Across 75 Countries in Only 3 Years Case Study shipbobOur first book, “Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls,” launched as a campaign on Kickstarter in May 2016. Seeing how enthusiastic the community was to be a part of this movement was very uplifting.

We set a goal to raise $40,000. The campaign exploded and the goal was met within days. We had 13,454 backers pledge $675,614, breaking the record for the most-funded children’s book in Kickstarter history.

We took the project to Indiegogo as well and raised a combined total of more than $1 million across both crowdfunding platforms.

This was more support than we ever imagined. While it was very humbling, it was equally overwhelming. Because of this success, we had to immediately fulfill all these backer rewards. Clearly the two of us could not pack and ship all rewards from our kitchen.

We started looking at logistics companies and chose ShipBob. It was very easy to get the information we needed as compared to other 3PLs and we wanted a company that could deliver. Not only were shipping rates important to us but also flexibility since we had so many shipments going out.

With our crowdfunding campaign, we promised backers rewards like postcards and other gifts in addition to our book. There were not many companies that could accommodate our inventory and execute on all these orders going out at the same time internationally within two weeks. With ShipBob, we didn’t have to worry.

They helped us work through issues with our inventory and we found a good way to work with each other. ShipBob has always demonstrated the will to solve problems and we really appreciate that we grew and continue to grow together.

“Since we raised almost 17x more money than our original goal, instead of shipping a projected 1,000 books, we had to fulfill rewards for nearly 20,000 backers across 75 countries. ShipBob was the perfect solution for the shape we were in.”

Francesca Cavallo, Co-Author of Rebel Girls and Co-Founder of Timbuktu Labs

Growing the community

ShipBob Rebel Girls Case StudyAnybody who touches our brand understands we are 100% community-driven. Without the constant feedback from the community, we wouldn’t be where we are today. We created the second volume of the book, “Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls 2,” to feature even more amazing women, most of whom were suggested by our community.

The second volume launched on Kickstarter in June 2017 and was Kickstarter’s fastest-funded published project, topping $100,000 in just three hours. We ended up having 15,475 backers pledge $866,193.

ShipBob integrates with BackerKit, which is the platform we’ve use to manage our backer information and seamlessly enable reward fulfillment for this campaign.

In September 2018, we launched “I Am a Rebel Girl: A Journal to Start Revolution” as a tool for our readers to create their own stories and become someone we write about in the future. It also launched through Kickstarter and received its funding goal of $100,000 in pre-orders within 8 hours. We had 4,488 backers pledge $219,012, more than double the original goal.

The rewards — including the journal, tote bag, stickers, and more — were shipped from ShipBob, and backers received them before Christmas.

Fulfilling ecommerce store orders across 5 fulfillment centers

Outside of shipping backer rewards for our crowdfunding campaigns, ShipBob fulfills all US orders placed on our Shopify Plus site through their integration. We strive to make the Rebel Girls website the best place for customers to shop. To do that, we need the right logistics in place.

We have inventory in ShipBob’s fulfillment centers across the United States — which is also where we have lots of customers. Using five fulfillment centers across the country is great because our product is high-quality and heavy, so it helps us cut down shipping costs.

It’s a very supportive 2-way partnership on both our ecommerce and wholesale sides. ShipBob’s multiple locations really allow us to scale in ways that a company of our size would not be able to if we tried to own and operate the logistics and shipping components ourselves.

ShipBob also maintains the integrity of the product, and our customers are satisfied with their delivery, unlike issues with other fulfillment companies where our books were scratched or had bent corners.

“It’s paramount for people to feel confident that they will receive their products in the shortest amount of time possible. We’d hate to see our customers go somewhere else because we don’t offer 2-day shipping, so during our third holiday season with ShipBob, we used their 2-Day Express program.”

Francesca Cavallo, Co-Author of Rebel Girls and Co-Founder of Timbuktu Labs

Inspiring the next generation

Worldwide, our books have sold 3.5 million copies in 48 languages. This is partly because of the quality of the product and also because as a company, we are energetic and fast-moving, which is reflective of the community that we serve.

We test and iterate quickly and we want to get product into our customers’ hands as fast as possible. ShipBob has helped us do that and keep inspiring people to see the achievements of women from diverse backgrounds.

“Both of our companies were founded by immigrants who came to the US and set out to accomplish their dream, which I’ve always found incredibly moving. We are writing a piece of the future of publishing together and I find it inspiring that it has been done by two companies like this.”

Francesca Cavallo, Co-Author of Rebel Girls and Co-Founder of Timbuktu Labs

Learn more

If you need a third-party logistics company to handle ecommerce fulfillment or to ship backer rewards for your crowdfunding campaign, talk to a fulfillment expert from ShipBob to discuss how you can scale your company.