I can't seem to stop hearing aboutBrandless, an online-only store that launched to the public yesterday. The store's catalog is split into six different categories—food, household supplies, beauty, personal care, home & office, and health—with a good number of the products being organic and fair-trade. And each item is $3.
That price point comes with a flat rate of $9 for shipping, and you’ll have to exceed $72 to qualify for free shipping. Brandless also launched with a $36-per-year membership program, and, if you partake, the free shipping threshold drops to $48. Shipping, I’m afraid, is limited to the 48 contiguous states plus the District of Columbia.
The company’s been three years in the making, co-founded by Tina Sharkey, an alum of Johnson & Johnson, and Ido Leffler, the mind behind a number of Silicon Valley-based lifestyle and beauty consumer brands. During that trial period, Sharkey and Leffler spent time securing $50 million in funding, assembling a team, consulting with makers, subjecting each potential product to rigorous testing, and selecting what they’d stock in the store.
It's resulted in a digital pantry that’s over 200 items strong. Brandless has developed minimalist packaging for each product that emphasizes whether it’s non-GMO, organic, fair trade, what have you. The store's offerings range from the essential to the esoteric: quinoa puffs with jalapeño and cheddar flavoring, dish soaps with the perfume of balsamic greens and grapefruit, tricolor conchiglioni, whisks, notebooks.
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Sharkey and Leffler have, as they explain rather cogently on their site, circumvented the traditional retail distribution chain that makes products accrue what Brandless refers to as a “brand tax.” The store is egalitarian and democratic in spirit, bolstered by the belief that each person deserves access to the same goods at the same prices no matter their social standing.
A mission that's easy to embrace, to be sure. I'm curious to see how Brandless sustains this initial buzz and how it grows—the company seems to have carved out some space on its promotional blog for recipes, but the page is currently blank. What will live there? Who knows. Take a stroll through the store today.
Visit Brandless here. See anything that strikes your fancy? Let us know in the comments.
Mayukh Sen is a James Beard Award-winning food and culture writer in New York. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, the New Yorker, Bon Appetit, and elsewhere. He won a 2018 James Beard Award in Journalism for his profile of Princess Pamela published on Food52.