Retail Executive

NOV/DEC 2017

Retail Executive is the trusted advisor to top retail executives from the industry’s most profitable retailers. We help retail executives succeed in their job role and grow their business via exclusive, actionable, peer-driven content.

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home while getting help and advice from our beauty experts. We created an extra level of comfort for sub- scribers in their daily beauty routine. And, so, we start- ed with a box, and then we expanded to content, and then we further expanded into our e-commerce shop. About two years later, we launched a men's subscrip- tion, BirchboxMan, because we discovered that men also wanted to try this way of shopping online. We cur- rently partner with 800 brands. Retail Executive: You are a proponent of infor- mational interviews. Explain how informational in- terviews have helped you shape your career in retail. Agarwal: After graduating from the University of Michigan, I knew I wanted to work in retail. I moved to New York, and I did several informational interviews. As a result of one of these interviews, I was introduced to one of the founders of the Gilt Group. Before I knew it, I began interning at Gilt; I was there for seven years. Fifty people worked at Gilt when I started; I watched the company grow to more than 1,000 people. What I learned in my time at Gilt is that one of the best ways to obtain real retail training is by being ful- ly immersed in it. While I was there, I was part of the merchandising team, and then the sales operations Birchbox was founded seven years ago by Hayley Barna and Katia Beauchamp, who envisioned a way for cus- tomers — just like themselves — to easily and efficiently try, learn about, and purchase beauty products online. They combined monthly deliveries of personalized sam- ples with original editorial and an exciting e-commerce shop. The company is officially profitable, and that means scalability for senior executives such as Pooja. Retail Executive: How did Birchbox come to be? Agarwal: Birchbox was founded on the premise that buying beauty online is very difficult, because customers like to see and test the products before they make the purchase. Our founders had the idea to send products to the customer for her to try. We educate our customers about the products, and they can purchase the products on It's this idea of moving beauty online shopping to the forefront and making it easy for her. Our founders also uncovered that a lot of people who shop for beauty already know about beau- ty. But, there are also many people who don't shop for beauty, either because they don't have time, or they don't know much about it, as it can be a somewhat in- timidating experience. Birchbox creates a way for the customer to test, try, and learn in the privacy of her own Betting Big On Birchbox E R I N H A R R I S Editor in Chief @ErinOnRetail Pooja Agarwal, VP of operations at Birchbox, explains her career path and how the pioneer of the subscription model remains on the cutting edge of the customer experience. RETAILEXECUTIVE.COM NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2017 18 EXCLUSIVE RETAIL FEATURE Executive By E. Harris BETTING BIG ON BIRCHBOX

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