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10 December 2016 | beautystorebusiness.com BIRCHBOX One of the pioneers of the beauty subscrip- tion movement, Birchbox is well known for offering personalized beauty picks tailored to each customer's skin, hair and style— for just $10 a month. Founded in 2010, chief executive officer and cofounder Katia Beauchamp says the idea behind Birchbox was to change the way people find and shop for beauty supplies online. "We wanted women to enjoy it on their own terms," Katia Beauchamp says. While Beauchamp and cofounder Hayley Barna were attending business school, Barna had an editor friend who worked at Condé Nast who sent her exciting new beauty items to try. "It was a lightbulb moment—if only we could all have a beauty editor best friend!" recalls Beauchamp. "So that was the consumer insight that inspired what the customer experience would look like," she adds. Birchbox's many exciting milestones over the past six years include taking the brand overseas, hitting one million subscribers, opening a store and launch- ing Birchbox Man. "Since Day 1, we've focused on offer- ing customers a full and valuable dis- covery experience, from the first try of a new sample to the ultimate purchase of the full-size product. It was never just about sending a monthly box; the idea was to leverage the subscription to build a relationship with our customers, introduce them to new products and get them to shop for beauty online with us," Beauchamp says. Eric Neher, vice president of mer- chandising, says brands interested in partnering with Birchbox can start by sending a sample for their team to try. The products are then tested to deter- mine if they're a good fit for an upcoming box, which are curated with a particular theme in mind. "We are planning up to a year in advance, but also like to be nimble and work quickly. Sometimes, just a few months will pass between our initial contact with a brand and their launch in Birchbox," Neher says. "Our customers respond best to products that are effec- tive, simple and intuitive." HAPPY DOT BOX Still in its infant stage, the up-and-coming Happy Dot Box, founded in 2015, pro- motes positive beauty lessons and mental health—and even donates 5 percent of its proceeds to charity organizations. "What is happiness? Great products, inner beauty, health and giving back," founder Courtney Copeland says. With a background in manufacturing and distribution and as a mother who worked for a nonprofit for 27 years, Copeland created a unique experience for customers by offering four to five full-size luxury products in every box, along with a bonus gift and self-help teachings, for $24 a month. "It feels really good to know you are contributing and helping different non- profits by subscribing. I would say that quality and experience is what sets our service above the other boxes," she says. Currently, about 50 brands are part- nered with Happy Dot Box. New brands looking to be featured can send a sample and the company will review them to see if there's a "hero product" that fits into one of its upcoming themes. "If selected, brands can donate prod- uct, get paid a percentage of their manu- facturing cost, or we may really like a product and pay for the full amount of the manufacturing cost," Copeland says. "We look for products to be special and unique … seasons of the year and trends have a lot to do with the selections." Though Happy Dot Box doesn't sell products offered in past boxes for repeat buys online, they have helped smaller mom-and-pop brands only found on Etsy and local stores get a lot of exposure. "Our mission is to provide subscrib- ers the opportunity to get hooked on products that we believe are special, and then send them to the original brand's website for repeat purchase. Allocating a marketing budget through sampling programs is a much bigger advantage for brands to get their product not only seen but sampled … those [testers] end up being loyal brand customers," Copeland says. In 2017, Copeland says fans can expect to see more vegan and all-natural prod- ucts geared toward a healthy lifestyle. She adds, "We are also working on some major partnerships for the inner-beauty bonus gifts and nonprofit fun!" Get Connected! @birchbox @birchbox facebook.com/birchbox birchbox.com Get Connected! @happydotbox @happydotbox facebook.com/happydotbox happydotbox.com Testimonial There have been many success stories for the more than 800 companies that are partnered with Birchbox, including the haircare company amika. "When amika first began working with Birchbox in 2012, our goal as a young, indie company was to reach their niche, beauty-enthusiast demographic and build brand awareness," amika's national retail sales and education manager Dana Amador says. "However, over time, due to the unique relationship Birchbox has built with their audience, brand awareness transformed organically into brand loyalty for amika … Their insight and influence has truly shaped the 'who, what and how' in every step of our brand growth." Testimonial "As an emerging brand, it is critical to create awareness and marketing for Manna Kadar Cosmetics and to partner with a great subscription service such as Happy Dot Box," says Manna Kadar, founder of Manna Kadar Cosmetics. "Their subscribers are engaged, savvy and are looking to discover new products, which have proved to be one of the most effective ways to create a buzz for new products as well as gain loyal new customers." Katia Beauchamp Courtney Copeland Images courtesy of the companies