Birchbox Enters Europe with Purchase of JolieBox

By Erin Griffith , written on September 13, 2012

From The News Desk

Birchbox, the subscription beauty product service, is having a big day. For one, it is the company's two year birthday, which it celebrated with an adorably silly video sent to subscribers this morning.

More importantly, the company bought a European competitor to expand overseas in its first acquisition.

The company today announced a deal to buy JolieBox, a Paris-based competitor that operates in France, Spain and the UK. With JolieBox, Birchbox has 400 beauty and grooming brand partners. (That includes men's products, which Birchbox expanded into earlier this year at a slightly higher price point.)

Since the company started shipping its $10 boxes of curated beauty samples to subscribers two years ago, plenty have followed Birchbox's model. MyGlam is a new entrant backed by YouTube makeup star Michelle Phan. JolieBox was another, the Samwers are reliably there with GlossyBox. Box of Beauty and offer comparable services.

No surprise--the model is kinda brilliant. It costs ten bucks a month for a monthly package of fun beauty samples. They're usually curated around a theme and include enough surprises to make opening the box an exciting event. Bloggers will upload Birchbox "unboxing" videos to YouTube.

On Birchbox's end, the samples cost next to nothing or are free. Beauty brands have to be clamoring to get into the boxes. Getting a women to try their product is the first step toward getting to them buy it. And when they want to buy it--oh hey, has it in stock right there. The company isn'y a subscription commerce business--it's a lead-gen business. That women are paying for. Did you hear that? Women are paying to be marketed to, and they like it.

JolieBox's plan is similar--pay 10 pounds a month for four to five beauty samples, and then buy the full-sized versions of the ones you like. The company had raised one million Euros from Alven Capital in 2011 and acquired Spanish competitor Glamourum in February.

Birchbox has raised $11 million in venture backing from Accel Partners, Harrison Metal Capital, First Round Capital, Forerunner Ventures, Lerer Ventures, First Round Capital, Sam Lessin, Dave Morin, Michael Dearing, Kristen Green and Gary Vaynerchuck.