Local ShoppingWhat happened to Birchbox? | Retail Dive

What happened to Birchbox? | Retail Dive

Once an icon in subscription-based retail, beauty company Birchbox is now radio silent, leaving some vendors without pay and customers without products. 

The company’s website is no longer working and generates a “deployment disabled” error message. Based on screenshots Retail Dive took on Jan. 25, the company’s website was still active at the time and users were able to view products. However, customers weren’t able to check out and would receive a message about technical difficulties.

The website is now entirely disabled, and screenshots from the internet archive Wayback Machine show that this began sometime in February.

Birchbox – which became famous for selling curated subscription boxes with beauty samples – was acquired by women’s health company FemTec Health in October 2021 for around $45 million. Neither company has responded to requests for comment.

Birchbox and its parent company are also struggling to pay some vendors. An investigation by Axios in October found that FemTec Health hadn’t paid several vendors, including Facebook parent Meta. In an interview, founder and CEO Kimon Angelides told Axios that the company intended to pay vendors as soon as possible, hopefully by the end of October.

As of January, though, some vendors and a content creator still haven’t been paid, according to emails a former employee shared with Retail Dive.

A social media content creator signed an agreement with Birchbox in May of 2022 and hadn’t been paid the $2,500 due as of Jan. 24, despite several emails to the company. In an email obtained by Retail Dive from Oct. 4 about the outstanding payment, FemTec Chief Marketing Officer Gayle Bock said “the company is out raising another round of funding and until that is closed there is no update.” The content creator did not repsond to requests for comment at the time of publication.

In another document obtained by Retail Dive, a law office representing Bazaarvoice sent a letter to FemTec Health on Jan. 10 asking for a payment of $68,927 for services rendered, with one invoice said to be over six months old. A legal representative was not able to provide an update or comment from Bazaarvoice at the time of publication.

Allegations against FemTec Health regarding outstanding payments have also been brought to court.

On Oct. 26, cosmetics manufacturer and distributor Aromatherapy Associates filed a complaint against Birchbox and FemTec Health in the Southern District of New York. The complaint alleges that Birchbox was in breach of a distribution agreement and owed the company $226,695.08 for product purchases dating back to 2021. That amount had not been paid despite multiple requests for payment.

Aromatherapy Associates was granted a certificate of default from the court on Dec. 8 after the defendants hadn’t filed a response to the complaint. Aromatherapy Associates did not respond to requests for comment at the time of publication.

A breach of contract complaint was filed on Nov. 16 against FemTec Health by Wellspring Advisers, a law group based in Alameda, California. The complaint alleges that FemTec has “refused and continues to refuse to compensate” the law group for services rendered, with the amount in question exceeding $75,000.

As of Feb. 8, the court clerk filed a notice to reschedule a case management conference for the Wellspring Adviser case “in light of the fact that the defendants have not appeared.” Wellspring Advisers did not repsond to requests for comment at the time of publication.

A troubled history

Prior to its acquisition by FemTec, Birchbox was already showing signs of strain. The beauty company had laid off 25% of its global staff in February 2020, with Birchbox aiming to reduce redundancies and move some U.K. operations to Spain.

Getting acquired by FemTec offered Birchbox a chance to grow with fresh funding.

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