And cultivated literary joy and connection through custom book boxes, subscriptions and special edition books.

How Alix Lewis Burrows co-founded LitJoy Crate

How Alix Lewis Burrows co-founded LitJoy Crate

The Founder Series is a column by and about Utah founders and how they got to where they are today. Click here to read past articles in the series.

The story of how I co-founded LitJoy Crate is like a serendipitous plot twist in a beloved novel.

In 2009, I launched a company that required a great deal of crafting, writing and event planning. As a content creator for companies big and small, I put my creative powers to work during the day and buried my nose in books at night. I created parties with giant paper cranes, antlers covered in golden shimmer and gift boxes heaving with floral splendor. I painted a crib canary yellow for a photo shoot, wrapped tiny gift cupcake toppers and taught myself how to use a camera. My written articles ranged from “How to host a perfect party for your 1-year-old” to “When you should upgrade your smoke alarm detector” to “This is literally the best peach cinnamon jam ever.” Despite all the creative freedom, the job of generating content for other brands became laborious. I was ready to turn the page on a new adventure. 

Enter my co-protagonist, Kelly Dearth.

Several years before, Kelly had created a neighborhood book club in 2006 that grew into a book club blog. Her intention was to build a community of readers, and it would go on to inspire dozens of book club members and thousands of blog readers to pick up a book — some for the first time in years! Her deep love of literature was reflected in every detail of the book club meetings. Decorations immersed you into the pages of that month’s read. For book club gatherings, members might dress like witches, 1800s London Christmas partygoers or first-years waiting to be sorted into their magical houses, depending on the book being discussed. The food was also themed: think decadent charcuterie boards fit for Greek gods, spiced pumpkin juices, raspberry cordial and a potato peel pie. In every detail, Kelly curated a full book club experience, and it truly inspired people to read.

Fate was about to make its move.

Chapter One: When a book club became a business

In February 2015, at an event for bloggers, I was invited to join Kelly’s book club by a member. Of course, I said yes — immediately. Now, you may think it was Best-Friends-At-First-Sight, but this isn’t that kind of story.

Kelly continued to run a fabulous book club but knew there might be ways to expand the book club to a larger community and help support her family along the way. I loved coming to book club and trudged through my work the rest of the month. Kelly and I would exchange pleasantries during book club and then rush off to run our lives.

That fall, Kelly asked me for advice on monetizing her book club. I did my best to give some advice, but more importantly, I asked Kelly to come to a women in business conference. She said yes, which brings us to the true start of our story together.

In January of 2016, Kelly and I attended the Alt Summit conference and stayed up all night obsessing over our favorite books and favorite characters (there was a weighty amount of Sarah J. Mass fangirling happening). After a few nights of laughing and nerding out, Kelly shared her business idea: “I want to create something like my book club but as a monthly subscription. I want to make a book club in a box.” My response was immediate: “YES! You should absolutely do that thing!” And then Kelly asked a question where all the hundreds of little things aligned to make something beautiful and wondrous: “Do you want to do it with me?”

Now, we didn’t know each other well, dear reader. We had only met eleven months before, and this was literally our first time hanging out outside of the book club, but it was written in the stars. Call it a past-life intuition, or perhaps fate. My answer was an emphatic and immediate “Yes!”

The next day, I quit my job.

How Alix Lewis Burrows co-founded LitJoy Crate
LitJoy Crate employees at a company retreat.

Novel ideas

Within 10 days, we had a business license, a name and an Instagram account. We each contributed $500 and leveraged credit card debt. Within three months, we shipped our first book crates.

In the beginning, we spent every spare moment bootstrapping our new book company dream. We each had 1-year-olds and 3-year-olds who would toddle around the kitchen as we built boxes, figured out how to print labels and styled photos for social media. We would work as moms while the littles were awake, then rush to quality-check products and read advanced reader copies of books during naptime. Bedtime for babies was a second shift for Kelly and me, ordering books, answering customer questions and figuring out taxes. In the beginning, it was a thrilling and exhausting haze. 

Over the years, our customer base has changed and grown. When we first began, we created monthly subscription boxes for all age groups, including books and items that followed the theme of the book. We eventually expanded to include the magical world of wizards, witches and wands. Then, we started creating items from other favorite fandoms that our customers wanted. One thing about book lovers is that we are everywhere, and one of my favorite parts about being a part of LitJoy Crate is that it has been able to shift with the wants and needs of our favorite people: readers! 

Now, LitJoy Crate has a quarterly book box subscription, and we are the first book box company to offer a build-your-own book box where customers can choose new release books and bookish items to customize their own crate. We also work with authors to create special edition books with features like interior artwork, author annotations, signatures, new covers, page edge artwork and more. Our merchandise has fulfilled all my dreams of creating items to celebrate favorite books, fandoms and book lovers. 

“We truly wanted to create a community of readers who could gush about their favorite literary couples, chat about the latest book release and support each other as book lovers around the globe — and that’s what we’ve created.”

How Alix Lewis Burrows co-founded LitJoy Crate
Photo by Brittany Summers

Page by page

In February of 2024, LitJoy celebrated its 8th birthday. From those days in the kitchen “warehouse,” we have grown exponentially, moving from warehouse to bigger warehouse, finally settling in Lehi, Utah, in a 30,000-square-foot beautiful building and warehouse. As our customer base has grown, we have added new employees who all love books just as much as we do.

Today, we have more than 40 employees across the world and a warehouse packed with hundreds of different bookish products. We have hundreds of thousands of customers around the globe. We have worked with many New York Times bestselling authors, including Neil Gaiman, Holly Black, Sarah J. Maas, Leigh Bardugo, Brandon Mull, Cassandra Clare and Jay Kristoff. We have created beautiful special editions of classics like “Pride and Prejudice,” “Wuthering Heights,” “Dracula,” “Jane Eyre,” “The Secret Garden,” “Anne of Green Gables” and more. We just launched The LitJoy Podcast with Kelly and Alix, a place where we invite readers, writers and publishing experts to join our community and discuss what’s hot in fiction, interview beloved authors and dive into literary trends.

Every time I see an excited customer posting an unboxing of one of our subscription boxes or we recieve a beautiful review of a LitJoy product, I’m reminded of that first night that Kelly and I shared our love of literature with each other. We truly wanted to create a community of readers who could gush about their favorite literary couples, chat about the latest book release and support each other as book lovers around the globe — and that’s what we’ve created.

LitJoy Crate is a family that loves stories. We have mourned with our community in times of loss. We have celebrated weddings, the birth of children, graduations and recoveries with our community. But our greatest accomplishment and honor is being a part of our community’s stories. We are grateful for our employees and customers who have helped us fulfill our dream: to cultivate connection and joy through stories. I can’t wait for more chapters to be written and more books and products to be created to fill our shelves and bookish hearts.

How Alix Lewis Burrows co-founded LitJoy Crate
LitJoy Crate co-founders Alix Burrows and Kelly Dearth. | Photo by Brittany Summers

Alix Lewis Burrows is the co-founder and co-CEO of LitJoy Crate, a book shop for book lovers that connects readers with the stories they love through special edition books and book subscriptions. Alix is passionate about LitJoy’s mission to cultivate joy and connection through the power of stories. When she’s not devouring her latest read, Alix enjoys traveling, spending time with her two children and watching documentaries with her husband.