An American in Paris

By Lola Thélin

Photo courtesy of birchbox

After successful pop-ups in the City of Love, Birchbox and Paris have unanimously said “oui” to one another. The subscription beauty company has planted permanent roots in Paris with a très jolie 2,000-sq.-ft. studio in the First Arrondissement’s shopping district of Les Halles in early April. The company admits the brick-and-mortar route was not in the original plan, but also recognizes that 90 percent of beauty is purchased offline. “So brick and mortar is an important way to reach our target customer—women who aren’t obsessed with beauty—and create a unique shopping experience for them,” says Jenna Hilzenrath, a spokesperson for Birchbox. Founded in 2010, Birchbox opened its first physical studio in New York in 2014; this is its second.

Birchbox Paris plays homage to the company’s personality of inclusivity, while its joie de vivre interior design—upbeat, flirty and tasteful—honors the host country. “We wanted to create a warm, comfortable and welcoming environment that makes beauty approachable, not overwhelming,” Hilzenrath says.

Indeed the interior is inviting with playful wallpaper accents, complementary mirrors and light wood floors in Paris’ classic herringbone pattern.

Traditionally, beauty products are merchandised by brand; but at Birchbox Paris, products are organized by category (hair, skincare, makeup), making it easier to find, test and compare. For new and curious customers, there is an interactive area, called La Fabrique, which allows customers to pick out exactly what they want in their box, displaying samples in containers designed like candy dispensers in a sweet shop. The devotion to beauty continues upstairs with the pastel-friendly Birchbox Studio. Equipped with pastel chairs and rosé poufs set against a pastel-orange wall, the living space serves multiple functions: co-working space, photo and video studio, and event space all to connect the Birchbox community. There’s also a nook with hair stations.

Not an American in Paris? No worries. The location gives the company access to European beauty brands that require physical outlets for distribution. Now Clarins, Caudalie, Bioderma and more are available online, offline and in the boxes, too. “We believe that you do not need to be obsessed with beauty in order to have a great experience buying beauty, and that belief drives us,” Hilzenrath says.


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