In part two of this interview, Birchbox Co-Founder Hayley Barna shares her thoughts on expanding to other retail channels and how Birchbox leverages user-generated content to grow its business.
A banner for the hair salon that once occupied these quarters still hangs outside an abandoned West Broadway storefront in Manhattan. Inside, the 4,500-square-foot duplex space is utterly empty, with no hint of what — if anything — will fill it next. Two young, stylish women emerge from a car-service S.U.V. on a chilly Monday afternoon and open the locked door. They are Katia Beauchamp, 31, and Hayley Barna, 30, founders of the fast-growing online beauty subscription company Birchbox — and now, the latest in a string of successful internet entrepreneurs to try to open an actual store.
Of-the-month gift clubs have been popular for years, but it took two Harvard Business School entrepreneurs to one, make the concept cool and two, completely disrupt the online beauty industry in the process. After brainstorming over how to connect the world of e-commerce with the very personal realm of beauty shopping, classmates Katia Beauchamp and Hayley Barna came up with Birchbox. The duo launched the $10 monthly subscription service of personalized makeup products in September 2010, and debuted a men's version in April 2012.
According to a recent article in Inc., women fill just 8 percent of the leadership roles in technology startup companies. That's a small number. However, what's fascinating to me is that the women who do fill C-suite roles in technology tend to gravitate toward e-commerce. From Fab.com's COO Beth Ferreira to the women who founded Birchbox (Hayley Barna and Katia Beauchamp) to Gilt's CEO Michelle Peluso, more and more women are rising to top leadership positions in e-commerce. Coincidence? I don't think so.