|Products||Nail polish, cosmetics, beauty products|
Julep Beauty, Inc. is a privately held Seattle, WA based cosmetics company founded in 2007 by Jane Park, a former Starbucks and Boston Consulting Group executive. The company sells its products online, which includes the company’s Julep Maven service, in retail and in its branded beauty parlors.
Starting in 2007, Julep opened four nail parlors in the Seattle area that offer manicures, pedicures, facials, and waxing. CEO Jane Park saw a rise in popularity for nail care products, prompting her to focus on selling new products online and through television. While expanding the parlors as a "third place" for women was the initial business model, Park now says she uses the parlors as a testing ground for new products.
Julep moved into e-commerce in 2008. The company’s website is now its main sales channel, making available more than 300 new products on its website in 2013. Julep products are also available through their Seattle parlors, through retailers such as Sephora, Nordstrom and on TV though QVC. Also in 2013, it opened its first pop-up store in New York City. Julep reportedly tripled its revenue in 2013.
Julep is backed by venture capital firms Andreessen Horowitz, Altimeter Capital, Azure Capital Partners, Madrona Venture Group, Maveron, as well as celebrity backers such as Will Smith and Jay Z. Other investors include AFSquare, Alliance of Angels, Atom Factory, Creative Artists Agency, Overbrook Entertainment, Precedent Investments, Roc Nation, Troy Carter, Version One Ventures, and Western Technology Investment. Julep has raised $56M in venture capital financing to date.
Julep currently employs around 200 people and plans on using funding to accelerate the introduction of new products and other operating activities. While Jane Park and Julep generally enjoy a favorable reception in most media articles (see reference section below), employee reviews on Glassdoor suggest there are problems with retaining staff, and speak to issues with management and an inability to use vacation time—including accounts of former employees not being reimbursed for earned vacation time upon leaving the company.
In 2014, Julep's subscription service came under fire when the company received an "F" rating from the Better Business Bureau. The BBB's David Quinlan said about the 173 total complaints made during that period, "It's an alarming amount. I mean, think about it, 113 people have complained abut this company to us and not one of them has received a response back."  The BBB notified Julep on Aug. 19, 2014 of the complaint pattern, but its website noted that the company has not responded to its request to “address the pattern.” Julep responded with a statement blaming the influx of complaints on a surge in business and shipping errors. As of January 2015, Julep still maintains an "F" rating from the Better Business Bureau.
Julep designs, produces and sells its own products, working with scientists and manufacturers that also work for larger brands. The company sells over 200 shades of nail polish, each of which is given a woman’s name. It has also expanded its line into makeup and skin care products.
In 2014, Julep launched its Plié Wand, an ergonomic nail polishing brush that bends, pivots, and attaches to the top of nail polish caps. Demand for the wand was first tested through a $75,000 crowdfunding campaign.
The company promotes its products as free of fumes and toxins.
Julep introduced its monthly subscription service, Julep Maven, in 2011. Subscribers or “Mavens” pay a monthly fee to receive custom boxes of nail polish and makeup. To complement Julep’s crowdfunding campaigns, Mavens may also act as beta-testers in the company’s Idea Lab, answering surveys and posting on social media, allowing Julep to see how their products in development are being received.
- Chapman, Lizette. "Julep Beauty Raises $30M to Give Big Beauty a Makeover with Crowdsourcing". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 24 September 2014.
- Hilmes, Kelsey. "Jane Park’s winning strategy at Julep". Seattle Business Magazine. Retrieved 24 September 2014.
- Martinez, Amy. "Julep raises $10 million for beauty-brand expansion". The New York Times. Retrieved 24 September 2014.
- Tice, Carol. "How Social Media Is Fueling The Next $1B Beauty Brand". Forbes. Retrieved 24 September 2014.
- Murray, Rheana. "Julep's first NYC pop-up launches today". New York Daily News. Retrieved 24 September 2014.
- Soper, Taylor. "Venture-backed beauty startup Julep is crowdfunding its new bendable nail-polishing tool". Geekwire. Retrieved 25 September 2014.
- Grant, Rebecca. "Cosmetics startup Julep whizzes by rivals with its crowdsourced approach to making makeup". Venture Beat. Retrieved 25 September 2014.
- Rao, Leena. "Beauty And E-Commerce Brand Julep Raises $30M To Disrupt The $160B Cosmetics Industry". TechCrunch. Retrieved 25 September 2014.
- "Employee Reviews". Glassdoor. Retrieved 29 January 2015.
- Thompson, Connie. "Nail polish retailer Julep vows to polish up customer service". Komo News. Retrieved 29 January 2015.
- Soper, Taylor. "Beauty startup Julep receives ‘F’ rating from Better Business Bureau over subscription program". GeekWire. Retrieved 29 January 2015.
- "BBB Business Review". Better Business Bureau. Retrieved 29 January 2015.
- Miller, Claire Cain. "A Start-Up Aims to Upend E-Commerce by Selling Nail Polish". The New York Times. Retrieved 26 September 2014.
- "Nail Polish". Julep. Retrieved 24 September 2014.
- Chen, I-Chun. "Jane Park's Julep just put a nice polish on crowdfunding". Biz Journals. Retrieved 26 September 2014.
- [Julep Nail Parlor: SassyBusiness of the Week! "Julep Nail Parlor: SassyBusiness of the Week!"]. Seattle PI. Retrieved 26 September 2014.
- Brodesser-Akner, Taffy. "Minting Julep: How Former Starbucks Exec Jane Park is Reimagining the Beauty Business". Fast Company. Retrieved 26 September 2014.
- Dunn, Laura. "Women in Business Q&A: Jane Park, CEO of Julep Beauty". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 26 September 2014.