The Best Kind of Girly Makeup Care Package

by Adrianne Jeffries

I got a present from a New York start-up last week. It was from Birchbox! It took about six weeks to get to me : ( but that just meant I was pleasantly surprised, like, Oh hi, Birchbox! Yes, I would love a volumizing hair spritzy thing and some luxurious Italian toothpaste!

OK, I have no idea what this company’s numbers are, but I’m just going to gush for a little minute here. Birchbox is brilliant! They should have called themselves Brilliantbox. For one, the concept is super simple and easy to tell a friend about: You pay $10 to get a box of beauty product samples mailed to your home each month. You also get discounts on the full-size versions of those products, access to editorial content online (and in newsletter form if you want it), and — AND — it’s a clever idea. Plus the branding is beautiful: I got a brown box packed neatly with five products, each of which came wrapped in tissue paper, tied with ribbon, and accompanied by a few printed notes, and it was just straight-up awesome. Like, I was awed. The attention paid to design, the user experience upon receiving the box — it’s downright Etsy-esque.

By the way, did you know Etsy hosts craft nights at their office? If you’ve ever worked at a normal company you know how extraordinary that is. It’s not a brand, it’s not a lovemark, it’s a cult. And you know what cults do? BUY THINGS. Oh my God! I need to catch my breath!

Birchbox (if their numbers shake out, whatever, boring!) will be a cult. You take a survey when you sign up, so they knows which samples you’ll like, and their recommendations are good. A box a month is the sweet spot, too. It’s enough time to really try the product — something brands will appreciate — without being overwhelming. And the Birchbox subscriber who converts to being a brand customer will be the best kind of customer the sample suppliers could ask for: someone who’s objectively evaluated a product, decided she loves it and wants to pay for it, and feels like she’s discovered it, it’s hers. Especially if it’s something obscure and high-end! It’s the opposite of wandering into the drugstore and looking at a rack of lowest common denominator shampoo.

I paid $10 for that box, and I’m going to do it again. And I’m telling my friends to do it, too. It’s so efficient! It’s perfect for both girls who hate thinking about which beauty products to use and the girls who love nothing more. OK I’m going to go spritz some fancy stuff into my hair.

Adrianne Jeffries is a tech writer for The New York Observer and Betabeat, and despite her extreme enthusiasm she’s not being paid by anyone to say any of this.