Billie, a female-first shave and body brand, launched in November 2017, amid the success of brands like Dollar Shave Club and Harry's, and has been disrupting the shaving and personal care industry since. It has gained market share from personal care giants Gillette and Schick and has been getting increased attention due to its savvy marketing and bold manifesto. Gillette’s share of the U.S. men’s razors business fell to 54% in 2016, from 70% in 2010 and it’s on a continued decline.
The company seems to be growing with consistency, through great design, affordable prices and an excellent product. All of its line is made with natural ingredients, no parabens or sulfates, no synthetic fragrances and is never tested on animals. Billie has announced a $25 million Series A investment round led by Goldman Sachs’ Private Capital Investment Group. The backing from Goldman Sachs came out of their recent initiative to invest more in female founders and funds – having made more than $100 million in investments in women-led companies this year. Existing investors Silverton Partners, Female Founders Fund and Lakehouse Ventures have also contributed. The Series A round triples the company’s backing, bringing their total funding up to $35 million. We can expect funding from the latest investment round will go towards expanding its product line – a high priority for the brand as they sold out of its inventory three times since their debut.
Tennis champion Serena Williams has also invested in the brand: "I'm proud to become an investor in Billie, an inclusive female body brand that’s raising awareness and tackling this inequity head on". Billie is on a mission to ban the “pink tax” on personal care products. They’ve called attention to the fact that retailers charge more for female hygiene products and that women spend 13% more on average than men on the same types of products – razors, for example, even if from the same brand.
“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.” says founder Georgina Gooley. Have these companies not considered women at all in their business plans? Or have they been making their profits out of an existing taboo towards female body hair?
Billie has been recognized for its groundbreaking Project Body Hair campaign that actually shows hair, fuzz, and stubble — a first for an industry that only features women shaving already-smooth legs on its ads. The campaign is centered around the choice of whether or how women shave and celebrates the real aspects of their day to day lives.
Not only a statement from the brand to assert itself and what it stands for, the project is also calling on all women to join the revolution, and so they keep on growing their female fan tribe. They are looking at real women and supporting them with better options of indispensable products to their personal care rituals and looking after their needs on a regular basis through subscription services.
"I think it's important that you don't have this company-customer relationship, but you're building more of a relationship that comes from a place of respect," says founder Georgina Gooley. "And I think maybe that's a longer term strategy rather than just peddling your product and getting discounts and getting people to buy as quickly as possible, but it is a much more sustainable way to build a long term relationship with your customer."
Just like most direct-to-consumer brands today, Billie is talking about going offline too. A couple of months ago, the brand took over Bedford Avenue subway station in New York, for the launch of their first outdoor campaign of a giant hairy toe – also a smart way to capitalise on the subway’s affluence to reach younger crowds. Gooley says they are seeing how outdoor performs as part of their larger 'test and learn' strategy.