Photo: Courtesy of Birchbox
It’s been a few years since Birchbox launched, and it’s had to differentiate itself as other competitors have emerged.The company, which has $11.9 million in funding to date, started out as a subscription-based cosmetics company, but it’s evolved into more than “pink Birchbox” packages for women. There’s a men’s division, and it’s moved into European markets by acquiring competitor JolieBox. It’s also focusing on new product lines, including home decor and lifestyle. The company now has 300,000 subscribers with about 100 employees in the U.S. and 50 in Europe.
Co-founder Katia Beauchamp once told the Huffington post, “I don’t think you can be prepared for this. I don’t think that’s in any way feasible. I think if you knew what was coming, it would feel daunting because it’s crazy.”
We recently caught up with Beauchamp about the company’s growth since launching in 2010 and what they’re most looking forward to. Here are a few highlights from our conversation:
What do you credit most for your growth?
We were really a product-to-market fit for the consumer and the brands we work with. Customer service is something that really speaks to what we do. A lot of our growth has been organic and viral. We focus on executing everything and keeping the bar high.
How have you kept that high bar?
A mix of things. Being really clear about what’s important. Having a few key numbers and a few key themes. It’s easy to get distracted by the details; you need to prioritise. And ultimately, it all comes down to having the right talent.
We look for those who thrive in an environment of having ownership. We’re very honest about responsibility and what it means to be a Birchbox employee. You have to be great at your job. We define the boundaries like that. We want people jumping on opportunities.
What are some of the biggest obstacles you’ve faced?
We’ve grown really fast, and we could be growing a lot faster. We have strong opinions about keeping quality high.
So it’s getting all the brands and products that we want, and telling a complete story. We love the subscription model but it’s the ends to a means. We’re paving a new road and we’re calling it discovery retail. It’s a hybrid between marketing, editorial and retail.
How’s Birchbox Man doing?
Men are under-served. We launched at such a different scale but are very excited at the fact that we’re introducing them to new things. They’re also shopping really quickly. They have a lot [fewer] options. We have a new VP of men’s grooming.
You and Cofounder Hayley Barna have become “tech celebrities.” What’s it like being public figures?
I don’t feel like I’m a public figure. No one has stopped us on the street.
You’ve been working crazy hours ever since launching in 2010. What does your typical day look like?
We start and end days with email. Balance is a long-term game. It’s all work, all the time. It feels exciting. It’s more intense than ever. I don’t know how people do it without a partner. It’s very true that on my hardest weeks my partner is having one of her best weeks and vice versa.
What will Birchbox look like in 5 years?
We feel really strongly that lifestyle is a huge category and purposefully so. It’s working in beauty and grooming. In the men’s business we can test more categories. Over the holidays we did a limited edition home box with entertaining decor. We’ll be doing that type of thing more regularly.
We’re excited about the partnerships and just announced a collaboration with fashion designer Ruffian. We’re going to get customers involved in choosing brands, giving a megaphone to the customer.
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