Stowaway Cosmetics, a line of small-sized beauty products for women, has launched a subscription service for customers to replenish their products regularly.
The service fits into Stowaway’s goal of “right-sizing” the cosmetics industry, according to co-founders Julie Fredrickson and Chelsa Crowley. Most beauty products are too large to be used up by the time they expire. Many women don’t even know their beauty products have expiration dates. So Stowaway’s line of lipsticks, BB creams, rouges and mascara, come in tiny packaging, ideal for traveling, the gym, or a tiny purse.
“The product is designed to be finished,” says Fredrickson.
The theory proved to be correct a few months later, when Stowaway’s initial customers began replenishing their purchases. Stowaway has grown an average of 35% month over month since it launched in February. Already 20% of Stowaway’s “mature customer base” has repurchased items.
The next logical step is to replace used-up items automatically. Stowaway’s subscription plan is customizable, based on a quiz that asks how frequently you use your Stowaway makeup. The subscription option will boost Stowaway’s repurchasing rate, but its ultimate intent is to provide utility to customers.
“We’re saying here’s a product that just fits into your life and it will show up when you need it,” Frederickson says. The company anticipates that eye makeup attract the most subscriptions, since mascara is meant to be thrown out after three months.
Subscription purchasing continues to be popular in the beauty category. Birchbox now has a million subscribers paying $10 per month for a box of beauty samples. Ipsy, which sells monthly Glam Bags, recently raised $100 million in funding. And Sephora announced plans to launch its own subscription box service.
The idea of product replenishment represents a shift from beauty industry norms, according to Stowaway’s founders. The business models of conglomerates like L’Oreal (LO) and Estee Lauder (LO) rely on new products, novelty, and celebrity endorsement, since “no one repurchases products because no one finishes the products,” Fredrickson says.
That’s why Stowaway’s product line offers a simple, edited selection of products. Less is more when it comes to size and selection. “Luxury to them is large, glass clunky jars, but the most luxurious thing you can have these days is time,” Crowley says. “We’ve thought about it so you don’t have to think about it.”