Georgina Gooley Talks Body-Positive Shaving and How Her Razor Brand Billie Was Born
Shaving should only be a part of your skin-care routine if you so choose. And while it may seem counterintuitive for a razor brand to stand behind the body-hair positive movement, that’s exactly how Billie has risen to the top amongst the saturated body hair-care market. Behind this mantra and the women’s shaving brand is co-founder Georgina Gooley. We recently chatted with Gooley to talk all things beauty entrepreneurship, her typical work day, how Billie was born.
Tell us a little bit about your background in beauty and how you got started in the field.
My background is in branding and marketing. Prior to Billie, I worked at advertising agencies in Sydney, New York and Portland, Oregon. I’ve always been quite fascinated by brands and understanding why some brands resonate more than others. Needless to say, I had a lot of fun building a women’s brand in the male-dominated shaving category.
What was the concept behind the creation of Billie? Tell us a little bit about where the notion of body-positive shaving came from.
Billie was created to prioritize women in a category that was traditionally male-dominated. When my co-founder Jason Bravman and I started researching the shaving category, we found it strange that most shaving companies were created for men or have been spun out of men’s brands — women have simply been an afterthought in this category.
Historically, these same brands have minimized body hair in an attempt to sell more razors — they instilled shame around women's body hair. For the past 100 years, the idea of women's body hair was so taboo that we have been seeing commercials where razors shave completely hairless skin. The entire shaving category refused to show it. From day one, it was important to us that we didn't contribute to or encourage this ideology. We've always wanted to put our audience ahead of our product, so emphasizing the importance of choice has always been core to what we believe. By showing and celebrating the fact that women have body hair, we're hoping to remove the shame around it. We don’t want to be judged for having or removing body hair. It's a personal choice that nobody should have to apologize for.
What was Billie’s first product and how has the company evolved since then?
Because Billie was created for women from day one, we’ve been able to singularly focus on creating a superior shave experience for women, without the pink tax. As we were building Billie, we conducted endless focus groups, surveys and one-on-one interviews with women every step of the way. It was important to incorporate user feedback as we developed our products and tweaked our offering. We knew we couldn’t just sell a better product at a better price — we wanted to reinvent the category’s relationship with women. We built Billie to be a brand for all of womankind, not just women who use our products and that meant representing all women — hairy, smooth and everything in between.
What does a typical day look like for you?
A typical workday is walking in with a plan and then throwing that plan out the window because something more urgent has popped up. I usually start my days by reviewing sales and customer responses from the night before and responding to any pressing emails. I like to set a daily to-do list of items I need to focus on that day, and I’ll work through that list in between meetings. Over the course of the day, I’ll touch on all aspects of the business ranging across product development, logistics, customer service, website updates, marketing efforts and making headway on upcoming initiatives.
What's your favorite Billie product to date?
My favorite Billie product is yet to come! Stay tuned…
How has working on Billie impacted your life, and what moment in your career are you most proud of?
The biggest reward by far has been our customers’ reaction to both the brand and the product. When you’ve been working towards launch for over a year, sometimes it can feel like you’ve been planning this epic party but, come launch day, you wonder if people will show up and have fun. Since day one, we’ve had a tremendous amount of support from women who have been so generous in their appreciation of our product design and the values that our company is built upon. It’s been incredibly humbling.
Even more exciting was seeing how our stance has encouraged other women's razor brands to also show body hair and to talk about shaving as a choice versus something that women are expected to do. This is a big shift for a category that has spent the past century refusing to show and acknowledge female body hair. The fact that a new, challenger brand like Billie could change the way women are represented in a century-old category shows that even the newest players have the power to create change.
If you weren't in beauty, what would you be doing?
I would still be working in branding in some way, shape or form. For as long as I can remember, it’s been a passion of mine. If not in beauty, maybe in food. I’m interested in the different ways in which we take care of our body — either by what we put on or in it.
What's your favorite skin-care product right now?
Aside from our Billie Sudsy Body Wash and Dry-Bye Body Lotion (of course), I’m a big fan of my Jurlique lavender hydrating mist. It’s the best way to wind down at night. I also have a special essential oil blend with lemon, sage and lavender that I put on my pulse points before jumping into bed each night.
What's your advice for an aspiring beauty entrepreneur?
If you want to start a business, find something that’s important to you — it can be anything as long as you truly care about it. There will be a lot of distractions along the way, so having a North Star is important. And most importantly, back yourself.
And finally, what does beauty mean to you?
To me, “beauty” is an acknowledgment and celebration of individuality. It's not about changing or fixing yourself to conform to predetermined “standard,”it's about expanding the definition to envelop all the things that make us unique beings.