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New York ecommerce startup Birchbox is literally heading for the clouds

Man­hat­tan start­up Birch­box has proven in its first two years of exis­tence that a sub­scrip­tion-based e‑commerce mod­el can real­ly work. And now, inno­va­tion-seek­ing e‑commerce ana­lysts will be inter­est­ed to hear, it’s tak­ing to the clouds. Lit­er­al­ly.

Sub­scrip­tion to beau­ty dis­cov­ery 

The idea behind the com­pa­ny came from two Har­vard Busi­ness School class­mates, co-founders Katie Beauchamp and Hay­ley Bar­na, who launched Birch­box in 2011 and are now also its co-CEOs. Basi­cal­ly, for a month­ly fee of $10, the start­up sup­plies women with an attrac­tive­ly-designed pink box filled with sam­ple-sized acces­sories and cos­met­ics.

Just so that men don’t miss out, there’s a sub­scrip­tion ser­vice for them too, although their box of sam­ples doesn’t come in pink. But it does con­tain man­ly prod­ucts like hair pomades, trav­el-sized bot­tles of plant face oil and eye creams.

As Ms. Beauchamp explains:

“The way it works is you sign up give us your pro­file infor­ma­tion like who you are what you look like what your pref­er­ences are and then you receive a sur­prise box of sam­ples once a month. It’s tai­lored for you and then we send you info to learn how to use prod­ucts and when you find some­thing you love—you can buy it at Birch­box com.”

Head­ing for the clouds

You don’t have to be a hard-nosed e‑commerce ana­lyst to appre­ci­ate that that lit­tle idea has got legs. Beauchamp and Bar­na had noticed that it was far eas­i­er to buy clothes online than it was to get hold of good beau­ty prod­ucts. And they set about devis­ing a plan to right this cru­el wrong. The guid­ing prin­ci­ple, Beauchamp says, was to give every woman ‘a beau­ty edi­tor best friend’ to help them dis­cov­er prod­ucts before buy­ing them online.

And what a glo­ri­ous range of prod­ucts is on offer: Birch­box uses lit­er­al­ly thou­sands of brands, from the well-known to the hard­er to find niche.

But if this isn’t enough to blow that hard-nosed e‑commerce analyst’s socks off, a recent move by the com­pa­ny may well suc­ceed. It’s just announced that it’ll now be part of the new Mint pre­mi­um-class ser­vice offered by air­line Jet­Blue. Along with the tapas and cock­tails from NYC’s ‘Sax­on + Parole’ restau­rant and the lie flat beds on domes­tic flights, male and female Mint ser­vice pas­sen­gers will also be pro­vid­ed with cus­tomized Birch­box ameni­ty kits.

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