Founder Profile: Georgina Gooley of Billie - New York City
Hi Georgina! Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m Georgina Gooley, the co-founder of a new female-first shave and body brand called Billie. I’m originally from Australia, I’ve lived on both the east and west coast and I’m a Pisces.
What is your background (i.e. education, previous jobs, experiences that led you to create)?
My background is in branding and marketing. Prior to Billie, I worked at advertising agencies in Sydney, New York and Portland (Oregon) - most recently, I was working at Wieden + Kennedy. I’ve always been quite fascinated by brands – 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 led you to begin Billie? How did the idea start and how has it transformed to what it is now?
Razors are notoriously expensive for everyone but even more so when you’re woman because you are subject to the ridiculous ‘pink tax.’ 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.
We created a female-first shave and body brand where the products are uniquely built for the way women shave and priced fairly. We’re combating the "pink tax" because the idea that women should pay more for something purely because of their gender is absurd.
What made you decide on the name?
We liked the idea of a gender neutral name in a category that still very much speaks to women in clichés. A hundred years ago Billie was a man’s name - now it’s predominantly a woman’s name. We loved the idea of a name morphing from ‘boy to girl’. It’s a nice metaphor for how we view the shaving category – Billie is here to make things a little less ‘boy’ and a lot more ‘girl.’
What was the process like of creating a business that is product and subscription based? Was there trial and error in getting it right?
Throughout the development process we were super focused on creating really great products. We were not only creating products that we wished existed, but we had to put ourselves into the shoes of the customer to ensure we were delivering products and services that people would love. As we were building Billie, we conducted endless focus groups, surveys, and one-on-on interviews with women every step of the way – it was important to incorporate user feedback as we developed our products and tweaked our offering. There will always be an element of trial and error in getting things right but as much as possible, you should be connecting with your customer so you can course-correct along the way.
Could you tell us more about the Pink Tax Rebate?
The Pink Tax Rebate is designed to "reimburse" women for years spent over-paying for pink razors. Simply share a referral code with friends (no purchase necessary), and for every 5, 10, or 20 friends that join the Pink Tax Rebate, Billie will provide you with a $5, $10, or $20 credit to use on the site.
Okay, let's talk about your amazing branding! Who came up with it and was it your original concept? What do you hope for it to convey?
As we were building Billie’s brand, we spent a lot of time thinking about what values we wanted to build our company around and how we were going to communicate those values in the way we designed our brand and how we spoke to women. We had a very clear vision of what we wanted Billie to embody and we partnered with a wonderful designer to bring that vision to life – what you see on our website and Instagram feed is very close to the original concept. Billie is a celebration of women – their bodies and their confidence. Everything we create is through the lens of the female gaze. Our goal is to create a little bit of magic in the mundane and make an everyday routine more enjoyable (and a lot more affordable!).
In addition to razors, you also have shaving cream, lotion, and body wash. What went into the making of those skincare items?
We put a lot of effort and love into formulating our body care products. All our products are made with only healthy, premium ingredients and are free from any parabens, sulfates and synthetic fragrances.
We believe what you put on your body is as important as what you put in your body so we made sure all our ingredients have top ratings on the EWG Skin Deep database, a leading independent safety guide for skin and beauty products.
How do you connect with your customers and community?
Ensuring we deliver a great customer experience is key to our company – we try to answer questions as quickly as possible, whether they come through via email, text message or on social media. We’re constantly monitoring conversations and using customer feedback to iterate and improve our offering.
What steps did you take to build your team?
A business is only as good as the people behind it so my co-founder and I partnered with a great team of industrial designers, formulators, manufacturers, designers and web developers to launch Billie. We look for people that are self-motivated, quick learners and have a good attitude – when a company is so young, every team member has to be able to wear multiple hats, problem solve on-the-go and have a laugh along the way.
What makes you passionate about the work that you do?
I’m passionate about creating a brand that puts women first in a category that has always considered them an afterthought. As we were building the company, we kept hearing women’s frustration about the pink tax - Billie has become a great platform to raise awareness about the pink tax and encourage women to purchase from companies that are fair to them.
What are some of the setbacks or challenges you face with Billie?
The biggest challenge by far is not having enough time to do all the things that we want to do. It’s tough to stay on top of our to-do list because the list is ever-growing. Staying focused and prioritizing the most impactful tasks is an ongoing challenge.
What is your relationship with social media?
It’s great as long as you don’t let it own you! I use social media to stay in touch with friends and, as a founder, it allows you to have your ear to the ground when it comes to customer feedback. But it’s incredibly addictive, so I’m mindful of controlling it and not letting it control me (easier said than done!).
At The Glossary, we believe in women working together and helping one another. Why do you think it is important for women to support each other?
The Women’s March and MeToo movement are recent reminders of the power of numbers – it may be easy to dismiss one woman, it’s a lot harder to dismiss thousands of women. When women support each other we all become a force to reckon with.
What creative women do you find inspiring?
I love storytellers – Annie Leibovitz tells incredible stories through her portraits. I’m a big fan of Yayoi Kusama who tells her own story through conceptual art.
What have you learned from owning your business that you think can apply to any creative endeavor?
Don’t let perfection get in the way of progress. There will be a thousand reasons why you’re not quite ready to start a new project – my advice is just to start. You can figure out the details along the way.
How do you deal with moments of self-doubt?
It’s important to have people around you that you can lean on in times when you’re feeling vulnerable. When you start a company, you really put yourself out there – your ideas, your time and energy, your heart and soul. It’s challenging and filled with many moments of self-doubt. Surrounding yourself with people who you can let your guard down with keeps you sane.
What are you trying to learn right now?
Presence. I can get distracted easily, so I’m training myself to be more present on the task at hand.
What are some of your favorite places in New York?
Any patch of greenery in the City is a winner, so I love all the parks. I’m a huge fan of the Fearless Girl statue down by Wall Street and I think Atrium at the Beekman Hotel is a spectacular space.