Two Harvard Business School students, Katia Beauchamp and Hayley Barna, founded Birchbox in 2010 and it’s been a runaway success. I followed the ladies progress the last few years marveling at their simple, yet elegant solution to the ‘try before you buy’ beauty dilemma. Katia Beauchamp told Forbes magazine that,
It’s like having a beauty editor as your best friend. We don’t just send [beauty] samples, but tell the story about each product and how to get the most out of each one. We’re a source of information and inspiration.
Last Saturday, after a particularly hellish week on the road (replete with the stomach flu) I arrived home to find my monthly Birchbox waiting for me. As I opened the carton I perused the cover of my February issue of InStyle noting the ridiculous contrast between the cover headlines –- ‘Love Your Shape!’ and ‘9 Muffin Top Miracles!’ Talk about a mixed message….one headline shouts accept yourself, while the other one perkily reminds us to stay on top of our bodies’ flaws.
I brought my attention back to my Birchbox as I started to unwrap my samples – a lovey hair oil from Ojon, a fab navy blue nail lacquer by Alessandro, and a new fragrance by Harvey Prince, Skinny Chic. HUH?
The fragrance name pulled me up short, so I took a peek inside to read one of the most distressing marketing messages ever written,
Sexy, zesty, and bursting with energy. Skinny Chic is your daily cure for the common bore. A spritz a day keeps you feeling young, slim, and beautiful.
News flash Harvey (Schmuck) Prince! Young, slim, and beautiful are not feelings! Mad, sad, glad, and afraid are feelings….young, slim, and beautiful are adjectives, and pretty damn subjective ones at that! The message bluntly tells women that youth + slim + beautiful = happy. Bullshit.
What’s worse: two brothers founded the company as a gift to their mother. What kind of mother inspires that? A youth-obsessed, anorexic? A neurotic socialite? Am I the only one who thinks this is whacked?
This time the Birchbox founders, Katia Beauchamp and Hayley Barna blew it. Straight up, ladies: I expect more from you than this. How can you promote a message and product that throws women back to 1953?
To use your own words, you stand on a platform, which allows you to inform and inspire. Do better.