Four years ago, a serious car accident left Ashley Macaulay in the hospital for a month. She spent 10 days in the Intensive Care Unit covered in scars and bruises, her head half-shaved. The near-death experience stripped Macaulay of her confidence, and as her optimism waned, recuperating became increasingly difficult.
One day, however, her mother visited the hospital toting gifts. She painted Macaulay’s fingernails and helped apply cranberry-scented lotion and moisturizer to her hands. The small gesture strengthened Macaulay, making her feel less like a patient and more like herself. She writes:
Using fun, girly, products again was a reminder that my accident didn’t have to define me and that even under all the bandages, I was still myself. It inspired me.
Now a Boston College junior, Macaulay has not only made a full recovery, but has taken that inspiration she received and turned it into a company. Called Little Luxuries, the goal is to evoke happiness, confidence and, thereby, health from women in the hospital by providing them with brand-name cosmetics.
Macaulay started developing the social venture in May, reaching out to Boston-area hospitals to see if the idea was even feasible. When three responded almost immediately, Macaulay knew she would need to partner with a retailer who could help her provide consistent care.
She drafted an email to Birchbox co-founders and Harvard Business School alums Hayley Barna and Katia Beauchamp, claiming that Little Luxuries would be “an awesome way to foster good will for their company,” as well as broaden Birchbox’s reach. Barna and Beauchamp couldn’t disagree. The duo told Macaulay they would provide her with their extra inventory, along with tissue paper and detailed information on the items included.
Over the past week, Macaulay and her team have been putting the boxes together, removing anything that doesn’t meet hospitals’ regulations. Tonight, the Little Luxuries team will be dropping their first boxes off to Boston Medical Center, and will be handing them out to women in the maternity ward tomorrow morning.
Little Luxuries was recently recognized with a $200 second place prize and named Best Social Venture as part of the Boston College Venture Competition’s Elevator Pitch Contest. After the company launches this week, Macaulay says they will need to evaluate whether they want Little Luxuries to be a stand-alone company or operate under the Birchbox Umbrella. The goal is to bring the service to more local hospitals, particularly Brigham and Women’s.
“We just want to make women feel better,” Macaulay says. And who can say no to supporting that?
For a peek inside the boxes and a look at the Little Luxuries team, check out the photos below.