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Based on the ideas that everybody needs a beauty editor as a best friend, two Harvard Business School grads have created Birchbox.com.

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Special Issue
Beauty Inc issue 03/11/2011

A Multicultural Approach

“The concept was to open a beauty space dedicated to black, olive and mixed-ethnic skin,” says Clémence Gomis, speaking of Nayenka, a 2,000-square-foot boutique that opened in Paris in December. “It’s a multiethnic space, where our offer is geared to all skins.” For Gomis, who founded Nayenka with two other women, the key is to offer in-store advice with a wide array of brands, including Comfort Zone, Nafha, Youngblood Mineral Cosmetics and Curly Hair Solutions. The selling space is bright and roomy, with a lower level dedicated to makeup and hair care classes and space for face and body treatments, too. 9 Rue de Turbigo, 75001; +33-1-42-36-89-10

It’s in the Box

Based on the ideas that everybody needs a beauty editor as a best friend and that the beauty sampling model is irretrievably broken, two Harvard Business School grads have created Birchbox.com, a content-slash- commerce-slash-sampling site for beauty junkies. For $10 a month (or $110 a year), members receive four to five deluxe samples geared toward their individual needs. If they like them, they can purchase full-size product from the Birchbox Web site, which also sells items handpicked by its beauty editor. Launched in September with $1.4 million in venture capital money, Birchbox thus far has 8,000 subscribers, 15 percent of whom have opted in for the year, says co-founder Katia Beauchamp. About 30 brands—Benefit, Kiehl’s and Nars included—have signed on. In return for giving Birchbox free samples, they get an analytics package that tracks customer engagement and intent to purchase. Samples are individually wrapped in bright fuchsia boxes; all purchases include a handwritten thank-you note. “Beauty has become too commoditized,” says Beauchamp. “We wanted to create a place where sampling was valued, not taken for granted.”

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