With no notice to subscribers, popular beauty brand Julep discontinued their Maven subscription beauty box program, effective February 15, 2019. The company’s FAQs only say they have retired the program, and subscribers do not need to take any action to cancel the subscription. They will no longer be charged the monthly subscription fee. For those who have Maven perks, the discount will increase from 20 percent to 25 percent. For subscribers who have prepaid for their beauty boxes, they will receive a gift card to use on future purchases. The Jules and Secret Store promotions have also been discontinued.
Founded in Seattle in 20017 by Jane Perk, Julep was originally going to be a physical retail store, but with the growing popularity of beauty brands and ecommerce, Julep developed a multichannel approach. By 2013, the company had drawn the attention of local investors who invested more than $50 million into the brand. Three years later, Julep was acquired by private equity firm Warburg Pincus along with two other brands – Laura Geller and Clark’s Botanicals – for more than $120 million, according to GeekWire. The new, combined company was called Glanasol.
In December 2018, Glanasol has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, and a new owner has stepped in. AS Beauty agreed to purchase Glanasol’s assets for just over $16.2 million, reports WWD, if the bankruptcy court approves the sale. Apparently, Glanasol had difficulty integrating the three brands, so now their future – including Julep’s – is unknown. Julep’s Maven subscription program was among the casualties.
“The cost savings attributed to synergies, which had been a pillar of the debtor’s original business model, were never realized,” said Glanasol CEO Nancy Bernardini in the bankruptcy filing.
One of the costs that Glanasol couldn’t manage was an oversupply of ‘kit’ packages, or subscription boxes, available for subscription or sale, according to court documents. When those items were not purchased by customers, the kits had to be unbundled in order for the products to be individually sold. That may be one of the reasons the Julep beauty boxes are being discontinued. AS Beauty, the founder of E.L.F. Cosmetics, doesn’t want to take on a new commitment until it has a full understanding what it is getting itself into.
On February 26, Park addressed her customers and fans to thank them for the beauty community they built and shared.
“Beloved Mavens, although I’m not in a position to speak for Julep anymore, I still wanted to share a personal note of gratitude for all your engagement over the years that we built Julep together. I realize that for many of you, this will not make up for the frustration you feel over the ending of the Maven program and the way that decision was communicated and executed. I feel the same sadness and frustration – over the closing or our original parlors and our Seattle offices too. This was not the vision that my team and I had in mind when we started up with you those many years, conversations and innovative products ago.
“For myself, I am fighting to ensure that my reactions to the current situation to not displace the incredible joy and gratitude that I have for the community of inspiring people who made Julep possible, especially all of you,” wrote Jane Park on Instagram.
This story is far more complicated than we’ve described here, and it is a sad one. Park put her heart and soul into building the Julep brand and sold her company in 2016 to give it the best chance for growth and success. A little over two years later, and Maven beauty boxes are gone, and the future of Julep remains uncertain. The writing was on the wall when Glanasol filed for bankruptcy and Julep laid off 102 workers in the Seattle area during the 2018 holiday season. Will the Julep brand go on? Maybe but it will never be the same. No one will ever nurture it the way Park did, and her customers may not be loyal to the new owners.