When Lyon College in Batesville, Arkansas, holds its commencement ceremony on the morning of Saturday, May 12, the commencement speaker will not be someone from higher education or government, the usual career paths of most speakers. Instead it will be a woman who is CEO of a billion dollar company that she started less than eight years ago.
Katia Beauchamp and a graduate school friend, Haley Barna, cofounded Birchbox in 2010. Best known for its monthly subscription of personalized beauty and grooming samples, Birchbox has more than 300 employees, 1 million subscribers, 4 million total customers, 800 brand partners, operations in six countries, and brick-and-mortar stores in New York City and Paris.
Beauchamp is driven by a fascination with the business dynamics of the beauty industry and a mission to redefine the way people discover and shop for beauty online. Today she is more passionate than ever about building the beauty destination for the average woman who is not passionate about beauty.
She holds an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School and a B.A. in International Studies & Economics from Vassar College. Prior to graduating from Harvard, she worked for three years in structured finance and commercial real estate. Beauchamp has been honored with accolades including Advertising Age Women to Watch, CEW Achiever's Award, Fortune 40 Under 40, Inc. 30 Under 30, WWD Digital Innovator of the Year, and YMA Fashion's Entrepreneur of the Year, among others. In 2016, she was featured as an investor on Lifetime TV's "Project Runway: Fashion Startup" series.
The idea for Birchbox, growing out of her love for all things related to beauty and bolstered by a college internship at Estee Lauder, developed while she was still in Business School. Beauchamp and Barna started the business out of their apartment in 2010, and their first employees were 3 other friends.
A native of El Paso, Texas, Beauchamp lives in New York City with her husband, whom she met in grade school, and three sons. Although she grew up with no knowledge of the beauty industry or entrepreneurship, her liberal arts background and her business school training gave her the tools to develop her two passions into a challenging, compelling career.
In a 2017 interview with Alice Bradley for How I Work (https://lifehacker.com), she said, "I'm very intellectually stimulated by the hard things and managing in uncertainty. I'm calm and happy in that state, instead of being unsettled. I have a real belief that the only way to succeed today is understanding that uncertainty IS the job-it's not about the light at the end of the tunnel."
Lyon is more than just a college. It's a community distinguished by its academic curriculum, unique honor and social systems, and award-winning professors.