The Insider: Katia Beauchamp

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When you have the opportunity to talk to Katia Beauchamp, CEO and co-founder of Birchbox, you have to ask her about beauty products—you’d be a total dummy not to. But we had a whole lot more we were itching to ask this smart, savvy, and supremely accomplished whiz (who also happens to be a taco connoisseur). Dive on in. —monica derevjanik

Q: Ok, let’s cut to the chase: What’s one beauty product that’s totally blown your mind?
A: Shu Uemura has this hair volumizer that has a makeup brush at one end. You pump this powder into the brush and use it on your hairline to create this incredible volume, and you don’t need any hairspray. It’s perfect for that just-messy-enough look.

Q: And what’s the beauty product you’ve used for the longest amount of time?
A: It’s Jouer’s Luminizing Moisture Tint. It’s a tinted moisturizer, and almost everyone at Birchbox wears it now. When you wear it, people are like, “Your skin! What do you do to it? Did you get a facial?” I’ve been using this since Birchbox started in the summer of 2010. They also came out with a matte moisture tint, which provides full coverage, and if I want a little more coverage for an event, I just mix the two—it’s beautiful.

Q: You’re from El Paso, right? What do you miss most about it?
A: Other than my mom, it’s a tie between the sunset and the Mexican food. El Paso is a desert, and people usually live in the more elevated areas where you get amazing views of the sunset. The sky is so big that almost every night it looks like a sunset that you’d see in the movies.

Q: What movie do you think everyone needs to see?
A: My latest favorite movie that makes me so happy is Midnight in Paris. I tend to be attracted to more heavy books and movies, but when Birchbox started, I decided I was going to watch brighter, happier things. This movie is perfect if you ever have that moment where you think you want to be a writer—which I think a lot of people do. In high school, I was obsessed with my English class and all of the authors I was learning about, and watching a movie where the main character was meeting all of these authors made me giddy. I couldn’t imagine meeting these people who were like celebrities in my mind.

Q: Which bloggers are you loving right now?
A: I developed a crush on these girls from Texas who run a blog called A Piece of Toast. They’re so sweet—they’re honestly great people. I love their style and just how authentic they are.

Q: If you could collaborate with any Of a Kind designer, who would it be?
A: I discovered Jade Lai from Creatures of Comfort through Of a Kind, and am such a fan of her philosophy and aesthetic. I mean, who doesn’t want to look fantastic and be completely comfortable at the same time?

Q: What do you do when you want to relax?
A: I love getting massages, but that doesn’t happen very often because you have to plan them ahead of time. I’m really relaxed when I’m just with a small group of people, preferably outdoors and talking about anything other than work. I love the roof of our apartment, so I’ll sometimes make breakfast tacos and bring them upstairs and hang out there for a while. I also love the patio at The Maritime Hotel, which hasn’t been a scene for years, and that makes it perfect. The food is still great, the cocktails are still great, and the breeze that blows through there is so nice.

Lots more people you just HAVE to read about right this way!

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The Insider: Mollie Chen

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In the Baby-sitters Club version of our lives, Mollie Chen would be our Kristy—not because she’s always wearing turtlenecks or getting all bossy, but because she’s just so good at stuff. Editorial director of our favorite beauty site Birchbox by day, Mollie is also a ridiculously good cook—to the point where you question when and how much she sleeps. And while we still don’t have the answer to that query, Mollie did share her tip for at least looking awake. —carlye wisel

Q: What’s the most embarrassing thing on your bookshelf?
A: I’ll stand by any of my books—a mishmash of contemporary writers, the odd Hunger Games or One Minute Manager, and tons of cookbooks and food memoirs. But I also have weird stuff I haven’t gotten around to throwing away: a roll of Chinese toilet paper that my dad gave me upon landing in Shanghai and made me carry around for the entirety of our three week-long family trip; a Step Up 2 DVD (cinematic genius); and an empty Hitachino Nest bottle that I drunkenly took from Momofuku because I thought it was pretty (now housing paper flowers).

Q: Since you’re a master home chef, do you have a clutch recipe for last-minute dinner parties?
A: Roast chicken. Seriously. I never understood the appeal of chicken until I made it myself, using Thomas Keller’s can’t-fail method. Add a hefty salad and crusty bread, and you’re set. Anyone can—and should—cook. Seriously. Just buy some eggs and greens and get your hands on a cast iron pan. I’ll teach you how to make a frittata.

Q: No, but seriously, Mollie: How do you make vegetables taste good?
A: During the colder months, I roast everything at high heat until it’s just shy of burnt. This works with sweet potatoes, cauliflower, fennel—you name it. In the summer, I love raw shaved salads or simple grilled veggies. And salads don’t have to be boring. I think secret is twofold: fat and texture. Add tahini, avocado, or cheese for creaminess, and chopped up apples, toasted nuts, or crisp sprouts for crunch. If all else fails, consult Yotam Ottolenghi or Suzanne Goin for inspiration.

Q: What’s the last thing you saw that really amazed you?
A: I was familiar with George Bellows but hadn’t seen any of his paintings in real life until the Metropolitan Museum show this fall. I was blown away by the depth and range of the paintings, and the way they captured the color and life at the edges of New York life in the early 1900s.   

Q: Is there anything hanging in your closet that you’ve never had the guts to wear?
A: No, but I definitely have things in my closet that require a week’s worth of kale and chia seeds to wear. (They don’t come out very often.)

Q: How would you describe your style?
A: I wouldn’t call it a style, but I’ve definitely cornered the market on silky printed things and skinny belts. I almost never wear black.

Q: Do you own any Of a Kind editions?
A: So far, I only have Kindah Khalidy’s Cotton Candy Clutch (a birthday gift), but I have my eye on many others—and I’m hoping the Swiss Camo Tote comes back before summer!

Q: What’s your one solid beauty secret?
A: Face oils. As someone who had oily skin as a teenager and a frustrating bout of mid-twenties acne, I never, ever thought I’d learn to love face oils. But I find that they keep your skin balanced year-round, and feeling amazingly light and healthy—kind of like a green juice for your complexion. Under-eye brightener (YSL Touche Eclat or Benefit’s Ooh La Lift) is the fastest way to look awake and pulled-together. Cream blush has a velvety texture that you don’t get with powder—I adore Jouer’s Cheek Tints and RMS Beauty’s Lip2Cheek. Whoops, that was three.

Meet more unreasonably lovable people right over here.

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Birchbox’s Emerging Beauty Brand of the Moment: Air Repair

Just in time for holiday travel season, Mollie Chen, the director of content at Birchbox who moonlights as our amazing beauty correspondent, shares her tip for avoiding nasty airplane skin.


My boyfriend lives in Los Angeles, so I spend a fair amount of time shuttling back forth across the country. While there are upsides to being bicoastal—palm trees, Meyer lemons—the flying is taking a toll on my skin. I’ve got the frequent-flyer trifecta: dehydration, dullness, and puffiness. Just in the nick of time, I discovered Air Repair, a skincare line designed especially for me (and, you know, other travelers). With just six products, the collection is mercifully streamlined and has everything my parched skin needs. All the formulas have powerhouse moisturizing ingredients, including hyaluronic acid (which famously holds 1000 times its weight in water), lavender, aloe vera, and vitamin E. I’ve put my face on a steady diet of their Complexion Quenching Facial Mist, Beauty Balm, and Super-Hydrating Eye Cream, and it seems to be working—no flakes! But the real lifesaver product is the Rescue Balm, an intensive salve that is slowly resuscitating my dried out hands and cuticles. I’ll be taking all these products (all TSA-compliant, naturally) on my next flight, which happens to be…next week. Happy holidays and safe travels! —mollie

Right this way for more Birchbox posts…

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Emerging Thing of the Week: A Startup Store

Love a rendering.

One of our favorite startups right now doesn’t live on the internet (yet). It sits at 144 Tenth Avenue in New York’s Chelsea. Rachel Shechtman, the merchandising powerhouse behind the company, has all kinds of tricks up her sleeve—including an e-commerce component that will launch with the concept officially officially launches in February—but we’re pretty psyched on v. 1.0. Until January 12 at A Startup Store, you can experience Birchbox, Quirky, Artspace, Bauble Bar, and Joor IRL. And! Of a Kind even has a presence. We commissioned an extra-special, unisex take on our very popular $45 holiday grab bags just for the space, filled with crazy yellow Richer Poorer socks, adorable animal butt magnets from Steph Mantis, chocolate googly eyes from Chocolate Editions, and a stripe-y tote from Baggu. You know, in case you need another reason to swing by the spot this weekend to wrap up your holiday shopping. —erica

Click here to read about more new stuff we love.

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Erica’s 10 Favorite Consumption Decisions of 2011

Everyone sweats a year-end list. Or at least we do. And, because we’re also more that a little in love with Mindy Kaling’s “The Things I Bought That I Love,” Claire and I are sharing the things we were most glad we opened our wallets for this year, and we’re not going to feel bad our consumption because this business below was worth every penny. —erica

1) I haven’t thrown it down for a pair of sunglasses in a very long time, but I was so obsessed with Garrett Leight’s Rialtos that, after staring them down for months, I finally pulled the trigger. They’re oversize and a little retro but not at all clunky.

2) Do you have any idea how useful a measuring tape keychain is? It would blow your mind. #EDC

3) Nothing makes your hair smell better (and, ok, look shinier) than this Carol’s Daughter Monoi Repairing Hair Mask. After scoring a sample in a Birchbox, I scooped up the full-size.

4) I have been eyeballing Blanca Monros Gomez’s jewelry for a long time, and since I’m not exactly in the position to be buying myself a right-hand ring, I was psyched beyond belief that she made these amazing, now-sold-out black diamond earrings for Of a Kind.

5) Beer & Pretzel Caramels: They taste exactly like beer, pretzels, and caramel. Oh, Liddabit Sweets, what I would do if I had the money and the metabolism…

6) So what if they’re crunchy as all hell? I wore through the soles of these emerald-green Birkenstock Gizeh's this summer, and I'm majorly hot on the wooly Amsterdams for winter. They’d go great with some flax seeds and kale chips.

7) If you read food magazines, Lodge cast-iron skillets are the sort of things that pop up again and again and again. Yet! It still took me this long to spend the $23 on this sucker, which basically changed my cooking life.

8) Though there are many striped tops to love in this world, the shirt Thomas Sires made Of a Kind has no competition, IMHO. I’ve worn the thing at least once a week since I’ve gotten it, and I have a really hard time putting it in the laundry basket knowing that it’ll be out of commission for at least a few days.

9) Using the cheapest-ass Kindle on the market—combined with New York Public Library 21-day digital loans—feels so fiscally responsible that you feel compelled to take cabs home when you know you shouldn’t.

10) Though I’m aware that this is lame as shit, I’ve been on the hunt for a signature scent, and I think I might just have found it in Fresh’s Cannabis Santal.

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Birchbox’s Emerging Beauty Brand of the Moment: Beautyblender

Oh, great: Mollie Chen, the amazing Birchbox director of content, has found yet another tool we want up in our make-up bag. Might just need to slip this little thing into our holiday shopping cart…

Most of the time, I’m a tinted moisturizer girl. But whenever I have an event (you know, all those black tie affairs), I opt for a full-coverage foundation. It’s the only way to keep your makeup on all night—the tricky part is applying it properly. And for that, I have a foolproof tip: Get your hands on a beautyblender. Invented by celebrity makeup artist Rea Ann Silva, these fuchsia, egg-shaped sponges fit the natural contours of your face. Pros and beauty bloggers are obsessed with them because they give you a seamless finish. (They’re also very cute.) I just squirt a little foundation to the back of my hand, pick it up with the damp sponge, and gently roll the formula onto my skin. It gives me an even, natural-looking complexion with zero cakiness. Bonus: Watch our video to learn the super awesome press-and-wiggle technique. mollie

For more guest posts from Birchbox, click here.

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Of a Kind

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Birchbox’s Emerging Beauty Brand of the Moment: TAY

Mollie Chen of Birchbox is like a beauty-world Obi-Wan Kenobi, and we’re lucky enough that she lets us play her Luke Skywalker. This week she’s back with another amazing line ripe for discovery.

Sarah Tay is my kind of beauty go-getter. After years spent hunting for natural skincare she could trust, Tay grew frustrated with ineffective formulas and chemical-filled ingredient lists. So she decided to take matters into her own hands and develop a skincare line that met her standards. Launched in September, TAY is both results-driven and healthy—not to mention the fact that the line delivers the chicest products on the green-skincare block. Before developing her products, Tay went into full-on geek mode, researching hundreds of natural ingredients and their benefits. She funneled that knowledge into the formulas, which feature wholesome ingredients like argan oil, shea butter, rosehip oil, and pomegranate oil. They’re basically the skincare equivalent of a ginormous salad, which means you can feel great about using them. I’m a fan of the Cucumber Day Moisturizer with Mango Butter, a satiny cream that is rich enough for winter without being heavy. All the packaging is made of environmentally friendly bamboo and recycled plastic, and the company’s manufacturing facility is powered entirely by wind and water energy. Look, Ma, no greenwashing! —mollie

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Birchbox’s Emerging Beauty Brand of the Moment: Sunday Riley

You’re too savvy to be scared of face oils, right? In case you need a little nudging, our pal Mollie Chen of the supremely smart co. Birchbox makes her case. And PS: We’ve seen her skin, and it is something to aspire to.

My pressed powder is feeling mighty overlooked these days. Thanks to Nam Vo and other glow-obsessed makeup artists, I’ve given up on the mattifying and am focused on looking dewy instead. The secret? Amazing face oils. Lately, I’m hooked on Sunday Riley’s Juno Transformative Lipid Serum, a lush oil that feels weighty but slips into skin almost immediately. The anti-aging line is known for combining plant-based botanicals with modern technology and is a favorite of big-name editors (product guru Eva Chen is a fan). Not surprisingly, the products are a bit of a splurge. But I’d make the case that they’re a smart luxury: All the formulations are packed with natural ingredients—argan oil, borage oil, raspberry seed oil, oh my!—in their purest and most potent forms. Beyond the near-instantaneous effects of my beloved Juno Serum (hydrated skin, noticeable suppleness, healthy sheen), I love that I recognize every single ingredient on the label.mollie

For more Birchbox recs, click here.

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The Insider: Chris Paik

Chris Paik is an investor at Thrive Capital—a company that’s funded ridiculously rad companies like Warby Parker, GroupMe, and Kickstarter. He’d like you to know that the gig doesn’t make every day a suit-and-tie kind affair (though there are plenty of those too). And we’d like you to know that it’s perfectly normal to feel some major hair envy. jiayi

Q: Do you think you’re the only VC who owns a Rick Owens jacket?

A: There’s a high probability. It’s a winter jacket and an absolute staple in my wardrobe. I haven’t worn it in a while, but once the weather gets a bit colder, it’s going to make an appearance.

Q: I hear you wear a lot of start-up T-shirts.

A: I do. I really like my Reddit T-shirt. I also have a ton of Vostu shirts, which is a company that Josh [Kushner, founder of Thrive Capital] started. Any shirts printed on American Apparel 50/50 tend to be my favorite.

Q: What’s one piece worth an investment? [Ed: Heh.]

A: For a guy, a good winter jacket—it’s perfectly acceptable to wear the same thing, day-in and day-out. For a girl, a purse.

Q: How do you wear your Nikolai Rose tie bar from Of a Kind?

A: My formal wardrobe is pretty standard—so with a black tie, a white shirt, and a black suit. Classic.

Q: What’s something happening in the NYC start-up scene that you’re excited about?

A: There’s a really cool fashion show happening soon—it’s called Raise Cache, and it benefits hackNY, a non-profit organization that helps educate computer-science majors and programmers in New York. All the proceeds from the show go to the program, and a number of really cool start-ups like Birchbox and Rent the Runway are involved—I think Of a Kind is part of it, too. [Ed: It’s true.] 

We’ve got more Insiders to keep you going, right this way.

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