Billie lathers up $25M more in VC funding
Billie, a direct-to-consumer women's shave and body brand, on Tuesday announced a $25 million Series A investment led by Goldman Sachs' Private Capital Investing Group. Existing investors also contributed, including Silverton Partners, Female Founders Fund and Lakehouse Ventures, according to company press materials emailed to Retail Dive.
The new funding will "support Billie's rapid growth including expanding the brand's product line and continuing to bring innovation to the women's personal care category."
The company, which was founded with $1.5 million in seed funding, has raised $35 million to date.
As Billie moves into its second year of business, a fresh round of funding fits the DTC playbook for phase two. In its first year, the digitally native brand checked several boxes investors are looking for: surpassing early metric goals, building up a loyal following and expanding beyond the core product. The company hit its 12-month revenue and subscribers goal within the first four and half months, Co-Founder Georgina Gooley told Retail Dive in an interview in December. "We grew much faster than we anticipated in year one," she said.
In the beginning, pre-product and pre-launch, Gooley said the process for lining up investors came down to whether her and her co-founder were the best team to execute on the vision. "It's really just about trying to push as hard as you can as quickly as you can, and I think you can go to as many meetings and have as many chats, but it really comes down to: What are you able to create?"
Investors are clearly pleased with early milestones, which last year included selling out of products several times and winning accolades for a marketing campaign, Project Body Hair, which centered around the choice of whether or how women shave their body hair.
"It's clear that Billie has addressed a real gap in the women's personal care market by bringing product innovation and fair pricing to consumers while delivering a superior experience," Hillel Moerman, head of Goldman Sachs' Private Capital Investing Group, said in a statement regarding the funding announcement. Sutian Dong, co-founder of the Female Founders Fund, which also invested in the business, said in a statement that she's looking forward to expanding the product line and banning the "pink tax" on personal care and other products. Women spend on average $1,351 more a year than men on products like razors.
For Billie, the message of supporting women's choices is central to the business model, Gooley said. "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," she said. "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."
Relationships are critical to the Billie brand, and most DTC brands, which have grown a reputation for direct communication and community building on social media platforms. Many of those brands are increasingly taking those conversations offline, to brick-and-mortar locations. Last month, Billie dipped its toes in the water too with a "station domination" featuring a pop-up shop at the Bedford Avenue subway station in New York's Williamsburg neighborhood.
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