Beauty junkies used to avoid online shopping for cosmetic products because there was no way to test out items to find the best fit. But Katia Beauchamp and Hayley Barna set out to change that—as business students no less—when they launched Birchbox. Hayley and Katia created an online destination where members can receive beauty samples monthly, and even read up on the latest cosmetic news. These stylish entrepreneurs invited us into their offices and gave us a sneak peak at how they run such an exciting business.
Photography: Alice Gao
What is Birchbox? How did you come up with the idea?
Hayley: Birchbox is a discovery retail platform that helps women and men discover the best in beauty, grooming and lifestyle products. Each month, members receive deliveries of handpicked, deluxe samples that are tailored to their profile. Online, in the Birchbox Shop, members can purchase full-size versions of their favorite samples as well as other editor-approved products. There is also tons of editorial content designed to educate and inspire: how-to videos, expert interviews and beauty/grooming news roundups.
Katia: We came up with the idea for Birchbox when Hayley and I were in business school together. Hayley and I were intrigued by all of the incredible start-ups that recently started like Gilt Group and Rent the Runway. We recognized that the new retail concepts did not address the pain involved with shopping for beauty online. It is especially challenging to buy a beauty product for the first time online, because you need to experience the product—touch, try, smell, etc. Hayley also had a best friend who was a beauty editor, Mollie, who gave her the newest and best products to try. We realized that all women would love to have that feeling of a best friend editor who made it easy by providing everything you need to find your new favorite products.
“Co-founders Katia Beauchamp + Hayley Barna laughing together (very common to see them giggling together around the office!)”