Billie does not want to be known as the Dollar Shave Club for women, even though many of its customers are former DSC subscribers. Instead, Billie wants to be its customers’ BFFs—honest, fun, loyal, reliable. A great conversationalist, but an even better listener.
Founded by Georgina Gooley and Jason Bravman, the U.S.-focused (for now) Billie launched last November with #RethinkPink messaging about the “pink tax” on women’s products, and how women’s personal care products typically cost more than essentially the same items for men.
Offering a direct-to-consumer, female-first razor, shaving cream and lotion, Billie prefers to be known as a body brand—one that delivers premium quality razors and body care products, and brings TLC to DTC. The subscription: four Made-in-America blades, encased in aloe shave soap, delivered every one, two or three months at a simple price point of $9 per shipment with free shipping. It’s a clear business proposition with the added goal of wanting to bring delight to its customers. As Gooley told us, its new “Magic in the Mundane” was inspired by a comment on Instagram, a result of paying attention to customers.
The Australian co-founder, whose background includes almost a decade at ad agencies from DDB Sydney to W+K in Portland, Ore. and BBH New York, told us more in a Q&A.
Georgina, what was the inspiration for the new campaign?
Aside from launching the brand in November of last year, this is our first campaign. The idea for this came a few weeks after we launched the company.
We’re a direct-to-consumer brand and always have our ear to the ground and are listening to customer feedback, comments and whatnot, and someone on Instagram had said ‘Love Billie razors. They’re bringing a little bit of magic to a mundane routine.’
That made my ears prick up. It’s a really nice articulation of what we’re trying to do—create these high-quality products, price them affordably and make an everyday routine more delightful and more affordable.
So ‘magic in the mundane’ became the brief for this campaign—to make everyday routines of women getting ready for whatever it is they might be doing that day or night and layer on some magic onto that, make it into a dreamy world and really celebrate this process of getting ready as much as you would going out. It’s on our website, it’s on our social channels and it will be running as ads on digital channels.
Congratulations on the new seed funding. How will it help scale Billie?
We actually raised a lot quicker than we initially thought, because when you launch you really have no idea what the demand will be, and we were very fortunate to exceed our initial expectations in terms of the demand. In our first few months we had exceeded our initial projections for customer demand, so we needed this capital injection sooner rather than later to help us place big inventory orders so we could meet the demand that we were seeing and really build out the team so that we could grow accordingly.
So we just completed our $6 million seed round and the focus now is building out the team, shoring up inventory and making sure that as we grow as a company we can continue to delight our customers. It’s making sure we’re able to fulfil orders, having customer service seven days a week, and deliver on our promise.
How are you positioning the brand? As you’ve mentioned, you don’t want Billie to be the “Dollar Shave Club for Women.”
From the very beginning we positioned Billie as a body brand, and the everyday products or tools that you use in your shower, in your bathroom, but make them really great quality—and affordable—so they can be part of your everyday self-care routine.
Obviously our hero product is the razor but we also have three other body care products—the shave cream, the body wash and the body lotion—and all our products have sold out multiple times. At the moment we’re not looking to expand the line, but there will be opportunity for that down the road. Currently we’re just available in the States, and we don’t have plans right now to expand beyond that. Of course we would love to but we still have a little while to go before we get there.
Aside from just making sure that we have the product, we need to make sure that whenever people have questions we’re right there to answer them, that their packages are getting there in the right amount of time, so part of this fundraising round is about making sure we’ve got the right customer support team as we continue to grow.
I really want to try and carve out our own brand and our own following and not try and replicate what another brand has done, because we are trying to be different. While I respect a lot of brands out there, I wouldn’t say “In six months I want to be like that brand” because there really isn’t someone that I want to be like.
What are you measuring to track your brand health as you grow?
We have tools that look at, for instance, any time someone mentions us on social or tags us or has a conversation or engages with the brand, we’re seeing all of that. It’s really important for us to understand what people are saying, if they have feedback, how can we address that, etc. So comments on Facebook might turn into email exchanges with our customer service team to make sure any questions are resolved.
In terms of metrics, we’re looking at overall sentiment, but we’re also a subscription-based business so we really want to have healthy retention. So we do everything that we can to delight the customer and make sure that we have a good relationship with them that they want to continue being a part of.
For example, if we’re sold out of a particular (razor) handle color, we make a note if we catch a comment if someone puts that out there in the world, that they wanted the periwinkle color for example, and they’re just putting that comment out there in the world, we’ll make a note and reach back out to that person when it’s back in stock. They’re not asking us to inform them, we’re proactively doing that. It’s one example that shows that we’re paying attention to our customers and want to acknowledge them. We let them know if we’re trying to do something for them or something is in the works.
We try and treat our customers as we would our friends, versus having this company-like relationship, in the way that we try and be helpful, our tone with them. It’s very much as if you’re talking to a girlfriend. We, as a brand, don’t want to tell women how they should look or what they should do with their body hair, and that’s just something that we’re always very conscious of.
We want women to have a choice, if they want to remove their body hair or not, and if they choose to do so, we want to provide an affordable, really great solution for them that’s built for the way women shave in the shower and that’s priced in line with men’s razors. We’re not telling them that they should, or shouldn’t, look a certain way. That’s not what Billie is about. It’s about providing choice.
What’s next? Are you thinking about partnering with other brands, for instance?
We’ve been talking a lot about that internally. To date, we haven’t really partnered with other brands. We’ve been focused on building our community and what we stand for. Down the road, finding the right partner that aligns with our view and our mission, that’s something we will be exploring. As for what’s coming up, we’re very excited about summer. Obviously, more skin is exposed and it will be interesting to see how that affects sales. We’re looking at different fun ways to get out there.