In The Boss, women share how they became successful and the lessons they learned along the way.
The vision for Billie from day one was to create an unapologetically, female-first company in the boring, male-dominated shaving category.
For years I had been shaving with men’s razors, out of principal, because I realized that women’s razors were unfairly priced compared to men’s razors due to the pink tax. The pink tax is a sexist pricing strategy where products that are marketed towards women are more expensive — by approximately 7% — than the same products marketed towards men.
Most shaving companies were created for men or have been spun out of men’s brands. As a result, women have simply been underserved in this category, and women’s shaving products not only lack innovation but also cost more for no logical reason.
My co-founder, Jason Bravman, and I came together to create a shave and body brand where the products are uniquely built for the way women shave and are priced fairly. We’re combating the pink tax because the idea that women should pay more for something purely because of their gender is absurd.
Building a company from scratch starts by asking yourself two simple questions: Why would anyone care you exist? And, how are you going to differentiate yourself? Through our research, we knew that women were frustrated with the prices of razors, and we were determined to give them a premium shaving experience that was half the price of the competition and priced directly in line with affordable men’s razor subscriptions. Not only did we want to differentiate ourselves in terms of quality and price, but we also set out to build a very different kind of relationship with women, compared to what other razor companies had done in the past. Instead of speaking to women in clichés and making them feel ashamed about their body hair, we wanted to celebrate womankind and reinforce that shaving is a personal choice, not an expectation, as we did with our recent Project Body Hair campaign.
In order to build the business, we sought investment from venture capitalists. It was important for us to find investors that really believed in the vision of what we were building. You want partners that are equally excited as you are about what your brand represents, and who can see the market void that you’re trying to fill. Throughout the period that we were fundraising, we remained super focused on executing our vision and creating great products because demonstrating continuous progress is the best way to raise capital. Initially, we raised $1.5M at launch, including funds from family and friends. This allowed us to design and manufacture our products, build our website and launch with our starter kits, which include a Billie razor, a magnetic holder and two five-blade razor cartridges. We also launched with a variety of body care products.
The biggest challenge in building a business is staying focused. There are always a million little and big things that can distract, and even deter you from getting to launch. It’s important to have a north star and remain goal-oriented, focused, persistent and imaginative. These are some of the most important characteristics of a founder: You need to have a clear vision and the grit to see it through.
We launched Billie in November 2017, a year after we first decided to disrupt the women’s razor market. When you’ve been working towards a launch for so long, sometimes it can feel like you’ve been planning a special party. On the day of your big event, you wonder if people will show up and have a good time. As a direct-to-consumer brand, we launched through digital channels and focused our messaging around raising awareness of the ‘pink tax.’ We also offered our customers a Pink Tax Rebate, which we designed to “reimburse” women for all of the years they spent over-paying for razors.
We were fortunate that women have really embraced our brand. The biggest reward of starting Billie has been our customer’s response. Since day one, we’ve had a tremendous amount of support from women who have been so generous in their appreciation of our product designs and overall goals. This resulted in us reaching our 12-month sales goals in just a few months.
We launched the business with one employee, and now we’re a team of 11. We look for people that are self-motivated, quick learners and have a great attitude. When a company is so young, every team member has to wear multiple hats, problem-solve on the go and have a laugh along the way. You have to embrace the challenges and enjoy the journey.
It’s still the early days for Billie, and we’re just getting started. We’re excited to continue launching new products that make everyday routines for women a little more delightful and a lot more affordable. We’re constantly listening to our customer’s feedback to understand what’s important to them and how we can help. As we grow, our goal is to ensure that every customer continues to have an exceptional experience — we want to be a brand that women are proud to have in their shower.
Living welcomes outside contributions. Opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect the views of TIME editors.