could you not admire Katia Beauchamp, who before ordering Middle Eastern-mecca Barbounia’s
lunch specialty of grilled flatbread with dipping sauces, leans in to ask, “Do
you eat bread?”

if not for her consideration of carb-fearing women everywhere, then praise for Katia
should be warranted because of the online beauty and lifestyle site she founded
two years ago with partner Hayley Barna. Katia chatted with Beauty Insider
recently about everything from the reason for starting Birchbox in September
2010 to the company’s first acquisition of Paris-based JolieBox last month.

at retail wasn’t addressing how you shop for beauty online. There’s the research
[for the product you already know]. And
there’s replenishment. But how can you sell a beauty product online to a
first-time user? Trial!” said Katia, when asked the impetus for Birchbox.

and playing with product, she said, would be the short-term goal of the
company, but these days—Birchbox now boasts more than 100,000 member subscribers,
each of whom pay $10 per month to receive a box of beauty samples tailored to
their needs—telling a brand’s story is just as important.
Katia said her first hire was an editor, Mollie Chen, the person to tell a
brand’s story.

Learn. Buy,” Katia said. “We call that discovery commerce. We inspire a demand
where there wasn’t.”

demographic is anyone online: the young professional, the woman in her 40s, the
teen, the grandma who hadn’t changed her moisturizer in years. And it’s
attracting brands of all shapes and sizes.

showing that the model of trading someone up from a sample size to a full size
product is working.Companies are seeing
that we can help launch a new brand and reinvigorate an existing one. It’s cost
effective to launch a global brand in the U.S. on our site. And now we’re
international so we can do that on an international basis.”

is now synergizing back-end practices between Birchbox and JolieBox, and in
2013 one Birchbox brand will be formed. Based in New York, Birchbox now has 130
employees and is on its way to move to its third headquarters since Sept. 2010.

it comes to being aware of the dozens of other online beauty sites entering the
sampling realm, Katia said, “we’re aware but none make us fully turn our head.
There’s a difference between discovery, telling a brand story, making the
moment impactful, and sending someone a box of samples. We are the people that
do discovery the right way, to the right people.”

exciting Katia these days is doing more live events, where she can see firsthand
how consumers touch, play and discover brands. She calls this initiative
Birchbox Live.

Fashion Week we partnered with different brands and it was great to see the
editors and bloggers come and visit and play and be surprised by the brands we
featured since we switched them up every day.”

like most retailers, Katia does get frustrated about certain brands who haven’t
made the leap to online.

still hear no all the time. Well, they say no but I don’t hear no. But I’ve
gone from shouting and no one listening to more brands coming to us. We work
with Lauder with Smashbox,” she said, adding that NARS was one of the first
prestige brands featured on Birchbox.