How Birchbox’s Katia Beauchamp got her startup signed, sealed and delivered
➤ Prepare to hear “no” a thousand times I’ve always loved beauty – I planned my prom outfit around a Chanel nail polish – but it sometimes felt like I needed a PhD to understand all the products available. And that choice paralysis increased when the internet took off. That’s why my co-founder [Hayley Barna, who has since stepped down] and I came up with Birchbox, a personalised beauty subscription box, in 2010. At first, brands were reluctant to work with us, as the concept was so new. It was hard – we were doing 20-hour days – but you have to be prepared to hear “no” 1,000 times more than “yes” at the start. We kept pushing forward, proving ourselves, and hit our fiveyear revenue target in just seven months. ➤ Be passionate about the problem I tell my team that “we’re not really in the business of making beauty boxes”. Our focus is on improving the life of the average woman who wants the best beauty products but doesn’t have the time or knowledge to find them. To be sustainable, you have to be as passionate about the problem you’re solving as you are the product you’re selling.
➤ Get comfortable with uncomfortable
Conviction and self-belief go a long way when it comes to shaping your business and reality, but you have to have humility. You may have a solution to a problem that will last for, say, 10 or 20 years, but the world’s needs are constantly changing, so you’ll never have an answer for the rest of time. You’ll need to adapt. As an entrepreneur, just as you feel the ground start to solidify beneath you, it changes – you have to get used to feeling uncomfortable and see it as something exciting, not scary. ➤ Celebrate your failures
I was raised in Texas by a single mother. As a child, I wanted to be the president of every club and strived for straight-As, so the first time I got a B, I was crushed. But my mom took me out for a celebratory dinner, and today I credit everything about my fearlessness to the lack of pressure she put on me; she didn’t measure my success by grades or awards. She taught me that success is subjective, and because of that, failure never seemed as horrible. Failing at a task doesn’t make the person a failure.