Honoree Headshot

Michelle Wolett

Owner & CEO
Once Upon a Book Club
CHANDLER, AZ, FOUNDED 2016
Industry � Retail/Subscription Boxes

A book — naturally — inspired Michelle Wolett’s book-box subscription business. After she read The Nightingale by Kristen Hannah, Wolett felt transported to a different world. She wanted to capture that sense and offer it to other readers, something that would help readers feel transported to the world they were reading about. Before long, Once Upon a Book Club was born.

Once Upon a Book Club is a monthly book subscription box with curated gifts that correspond to the pages. Each month, subscribers receive a newly released novel and wrapped gifts labeled with page numbers. As they read the featured book, they are prompted to open the gifts only when they reach the specified page number.

The subscription service has been well received by book clubs and avid readers, especially in the fiction genre, across the country. Once Upon a Book Club leans into fiction because it “has the capacity to transport you into another character’s mind, allowing you to see and feel what they do,” an associate said.

“This can expose us to life circumstances that are very different from our own. Through fiction, we can experience the world as another gender, ethnicity, culture, sexuality, profession or age. Words on a page can introduce us to what it’s like to lose a child, be swept up in a war, be born into poverty, or leave home and immigrate to a new country.

“Taken together, this can influence how we relate to others in the real world. By getting people to not only read fiction when they normally wouldn’t but also read books they may have never selected for themselves, we feel as though Michelle is helping build empathy- which will hopefully one day create change,” they said.

Wolett founded her company in Chandler, Arizona, in 2016. Since then, she’s learned several leadership lessons, including how to listen to her team.

“One of the best leadership lessons I’ve learned is to talk less and listen more,” she said. “When planning new things, I like to listen to what my employees are trying to say and take those opinions into consideration when making decisions.”

Once Upon a Book Club has been featured on The Today Show and in Inc. magazine, Forbes, Reader’s Digest and more. Wolett’s proudest achievement was being named one of Oprah’s favorite book subscription boxes.

Within the next five years, Wolett would like to launch a middle-grade box suited for kids. “After watching my own child struggle with reading, I created my own sample box for her to experience, and the gifts enticed her to keep going and she absolutely loved it,” Wolett said. “I want to expand our company to inspire more people to read on a daily basis.”

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Honoree Fun fact

Michelle is the first born daughter of Czech/Slovak immigrants. She also has begun using her creativity to start making inspirational short films on the side. 

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