Ulta Beauty is delving into subscription boxes for the first time.
On Friday, the beauty retailer announced its partnership with monthly subscription box Curlbox, an Atlanta-based company founded by Myleik Teele. Together, Ulta Beauty and Curlbox have created three boxes that will be available on Curlbox.com. The boxes, which will be sold for $25-$30 and have a $98 value, will be released in May, in early fall and for holiday. Ulta Beauty hair-care brands such as Tracee Ellis Ross’ Pattern and Mane Choice will be featured. Curlbox’s monthly offering typically features one brand per month, and sells out on the same day it is released digitally. The company currently has a 153,000-person waitlist.
“We’ve been thinking: How do we showcase this incredible assortment that we’ve built over the last few years? And also: How do we give more access to our curly, textured [haired] guests to try more of our brands,” said Jessica Philips Perez, vp of merchandising at Ulta Beauty. “Myleik has built an incredible community and has such a voice with this guest, so we thought it was the perfect opportunity.”
For the pilot program, customers will be directed to the Curlbox site to maximize the sales and growth opportunities for the indie brand. Ulta Beauty will be supporting the launch across marketing including social and digital channels. There is also potential for an in-store Ulta Beauty launch, said Philips Perez. In 2018, subscription beauty company Birchbox launched in Walgreens to provide more access to its customers.
Teele started Curlbox after personally transitioning to a natural look in 2011. She was inspired to create a digital community, largely after going to in-person curly hair meetups in Atlanta. “At these meetups, I would meet all these different women and hear about how far they had traveled. I thought, ‘There has to be a solution for someone who feels this way.’ I know that feeling and that, as a Black woman. But there had to be a way to close the gap on this.”
Without beauty connections, Teele onboarded collections from SheaMoisture, L’Oréal, Procter & Gamble and Unilever, among others. And unlike the subscription model largely focused on samples, Curlbox offers full-size product and a deep content experience focused on one brand per box.
Recently, Ulta Beauty has revved up its curly and textured assortment with Briogeo and Camille Rose. It also has plans to double its Black-owned assortment via its diversity commitments announced in February. Hair care has been vital to Ulta Beauty in the last year. In its quarterly results announced in March, hair care grew to 20% of net sales, while cosmetics decreased from 48% to 41%.
“Texture and curl specifically have been a pillar of Ulta Beauty , and a significant driver for all of hair. This partnership absolutely supports that, because I do feel like the curly girl, the textured hair consumer is always looking for the next and the best,” said Philips Perez. “So to have access through this kind of sampling program allows someone to try multiple brands and products, some that maybe they haven’t tried, at a really great price point. This does lead up to our texture strategy; it allows a chance for us to feed in some new brands that people haven’t heard of and to ground them with our legacy brands.”