Shopping online has become the norm. But what if you could try before you buy, right in your own home? Thanks to the launch of Birchbox, a new retail meets of-the-month beauty concept, you can do just that and more.
Founded by Harvard Business School alumnae Hayley Barna and Katia Beauchamp (Ververis), Birchbox is a fresh approach to online retail that brings the beauty editors closet to you. For just $10 a month, members sign up to receive sleek gift boxes packed with handpicked, deluxe size samples from the hottest hair, skincare and makeup brands on the market. If you like what you try, you can learn more about the products and buy full-size versions directly through the site. (Genius? We think so!)
I sat down with Co-Founder Katia Beauchamp (Ververis) to talk Birchbox, beauty, young business and more. Here, the inside scoop.
In September, you formally launched Birchbox, a new way for online consumers to sample products before buying. What inspired you to start the company?
Our first inspiration was our Director of Content, Mollie Chen. As a former editor at Cond Nast Traveler, she had access to the beauty editors closet, and constantly introduced us to new products. Hayley and I love beauty, and realized that online has merely been a place where you go to replenish. But people want to smell things, they want to try them. So we thought, what if we let you do that in your own home? We came up with Birchbox, a fully integrated editorial and e-commerce experience that feels natural; where online becomes a place of discovery. You can always buy products online, but the ability Birchbox gives you to try them out first is unique.
In addition to allowing customers to sign up for monthly boxes and easily buy products, Birchbox.com is also a great interactive resource. Can you tell me how it works?
What you cant do today is open a magazine and just click and buy all the things theyre telling you about. And even if you could, you still wouldnt have tried them. So we send you the physical product in the mail and then talk about it from a trend or how-to perspective in written and video editorials online. All the pieces are there for you to see if you really want it, and if you do, then you can easily buy it.
Any product favorites youre willing to share?
I love Benefits Stay Dont Stray. Its a primer that goes on the eyelid and below the eye and helps your eye shadow and liner stay in place. Hayley is a huge fan of NARS Orgasm Illuminatora cream version of NARS classic Orgasm. We have a fun video on our site that shows you how to use it. I also love to do a face mask in the morning, about twice a week. The Face Shop Collagen ones in your box are phenomenal. I also like Malin+Goetzs really cool foaming Detox face mask, Rene Rouleaus fruit enzyme masks and masks by Jurlique. Online, we list our favorite products from past boxes as well.
What have you and the other women on the team learned from the Birchbox launch?
First, you should do what you know. Think of what you want and thats probably a really good start for a product. You want to build a strong team of people who you want to spend a lot of time with and who complement your own strengths. We all authentically respect and revere one another. Its also important to celebrate each milestone, and to be fully aware that right around the corner is another huge obstacle to overcome. You have to constantly be thinking months and years ahead if youre really going to make it a success. We promise that it will get better and better.
And finally, I just received my first Birchbox in the mail. Its gorgeous! Can you tell me whats inside?
The September box was our first non-beta box, and included NARS Makeup Primer with SPF 20, Lola Marc Jacobs eau de parfum, Cargo Bronzer and Tatcha Blotting Papers. One of the designers we interviewed for the site was Kim Phan [of Yumi Kim], so as a treat, we included one of her favorites, The Face Shops Collagen Mask. You can go online to learn more about it, and about Kim.
Flip through the slide show above to learn more about what was in my Birchbox.
Photos courtesy of Birchbox and Larkin Clark