Last summer, Birchbox, an online beauty subscription company that mails its users beauty samples for $10 a month, was in expansion mode. With one brick-and-mortar store in New York City, the company said it was kicking off an aggressive expansion plan to open more stores across the country.
A year later, the story is very different. On Tuesday, the New York-based company said it has laid off 30 of its employees, the second round of dismissals this year. And the brick-and-mortar push is no more — plans to open three additional physical stores in the US have been scrapped, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal.
Launched in 2010, Birchbox found early success with its subscription-box model. Two years ago, when the company raised $60 million at a $485 million valuation, the future looked bright. Since then, however, the funding environment has shifted — the company hasn’t raised money since 2014 — and competitors have multiplied. Beauty-subscription service Ipsy (founded by YouTube star Michelle Phan) and Sephora’s Play! are just two additional options from a pool of hundreds.
And so Birchbox is dialing back.
“It is painful to see any decision not pan out, immediately or ever,” co-founder and chief executive Katia Beauchamp wrote in a Medium post. “You can’t help but feel like your job is to get 100% of decisions right, but clearly that is impossible and not what defines success.”