No “Pink Tax”: Billie, a Shave Club for Women, Raises $6M

Xconomy National — 

[Corrected, 4/11/18, 4:48 p.m. ET. See below.] Billie, a direct-to-consumer seller of monthly shaving and body care products subscriptions, has raised $6 million in new funding.

The New York-based startup, which launched in November, previously raised $2.5 million. This latest round of funding was led by Silverton Partners in Austin and included existing investors Female Founders Fund and Lakehouse Ventures.

Billie co-founder Georgina Gooley says she saw opportunity in the fact that women’s shaving needs have been overlooked by traditional grooming brands, which are mostly focused on improving the shaving experience for men.

“Women were missing from this category for no real reason—just as many women shave as men,” she says. “We were left with the option to overpay or having to opt for the more affordable men’s razor, which isn’t designed with women in mind, who have to shave in the shower.”

The use of so-called gender-based pricing (“pink tax”) means that products like pink razors cost as much as 15 percent more compared to the same (non-pink) product when it is marketed to men.

So, Gooley, along with co-founder Jason Bravman, decided to bet that what’s good for the gander is also good for the goose. (Interesting retail family connection: Bravman’s brother-in-law, Neil Blumenthal, is a co-founder of Warby Parker.) [Paragraph updated to correct reference to Warby Parker founders.]

“Billie is revolutionizing an industry that has been historically dominated by male brands,” Sutian Dong, a partner at Female Founders Fund, said in the press release announcing the new funding.

Billie offers its customer a “Starter Kit” consisting of a razor handle, two five-blade razor cartridges, and a magnetic razor holder for $9. Refill packages with additional cartridges can be sent monthly, or every two or three months, depending on frequency of shaving. The startup also sells body wash, lotion, and shaving cream—which are currently sold out, according to Billie’s website.

So far, Billie says it has sold out of its inventory three times since November. The new funding will go towards making new hires and ramping up inventory, the company says.

Another company, Angel Shave Club, also offers razor packages at a similar price. The San Diego-based startup, which was founded in 2016, differs from Billie in that it offers only two handle options and either a two-month or four-month frequency of purchases. The company website says it donates a portion of revenues to the Malala Fund.

If the success of Dollar Shave Club is any indication, companies like Billie might have found fertile ground. Dollar Shave Club was bought by Unilever for $1 billion four years after its founding in 2012. Last year, Dollar Shave Club had 51 percent of the online razor market, compared to industry giant Gillette, which had 21 percent, according to research firm Slice Intelligence.

“We tried to be thoughtful about the way women shave, in the shower, and the experience that we would want,” Billie’s Gooley says. “That’s what creates a long term customer.”