The billion-dollar beauty industry is as much a slave to change as any other fast-moving, booming industry. But the amount of players, influencers and moving parts means that brands are constantly being pushed to change, adapt and modify based on the notions of the whimsical consumer or controlling retailer.
To adapt to the ever-changing rules of beauty, small brands are reworking the classic business model - invigorating their branding and sales strategies, and challenging the very creativity that got them into the industry.
Below, meet four beauty founders that are rewriting the rules of classic beauty, from perfume, and skincare to nails and cosmetics.
Hope Freeman, Co-founder, Nateeva
Nateeva, the brainchild of partners Hope Freeman and Jay McSherry, was born when they were holidaying in the Caribbean. Freeman, a fragrance evaluator for IFF, had worked on a plethora of famous perfumes on behalf of some of the biggest names in the industry, such as Avon, Coty, Ralph Lauren, Donna Karan. “I fell into the fragrance industry in the 70's and I've been doing it ever since," she says.
Hope Freeman. Photo credit: Davi Lewis Taylor
It was during a holiday on St. Martin that her and McSherry decided on the business model - they would create a line of perfumes, to reflect the different scents of the Caribbean islands. Upon her return to the U.S, she decided to leave IFF, but they in turn asked her to stay on as a consultant and they would help to produce the fragrances.
“Each fragrance is so different from one another but they each have a common thread - you know it's about the beach, you know it's about flowers and exotic things growing on the island," says Freeman.
Bottling the scents of each island - St. Martin, Bahamas, and Jamaica thus far, has proved a cathartic and extremely worthwhile venture for the couple. The line has been picked up by the islands' top hotels - the perfect place for consumers to purchase a scent that has the ability to recall all fond holiday memories of their trip. Now the pair are looking toward retailing the within the U.S, with their online sales focused on the bigger market.
Amyling Lin, CEO and founder of Sundays
The nails sector of beauty is one that has come under a lot of heat and scrutiny in the past year, following the release of many articles by The New York Times, describing the horrors workers endured in the salons throughout large cities.
Amyling Lin was in fashion before deciding to take a turn and get into the beauty industry, opening a nail salon on the Upper West Side, before opening a handful more throughout New York City.
“Then I realized, between toxic chemicals, and not many choices in terms of nails salons, with people having very low expectations - rushing in, rushing out, I was inspired to do something totally different," says Lin.
Focused on providing an experience for the customer, rather than a simple service, Lin's new company would look to give their customers a relaxation technique during their manicure, to help them meditate while the technicians work Lin's very own, non-toxic Sundays polish over their nails. She worked for a year on the formula for her high-end, non-toxic polish line that is now sold in stores and online, "we worked with specialists to make everything perfect for both salon and at-home use.
As for the meditation technique the technicians use, Lin says, "we want clients to spend a little longer in the salon." To do this, Lin is basing all the Sundays salons in high end studios, including locations in Saks Fifth Avenue and Brookfield Place.
And if all of the above, wasn't enough of a reason to check out these salons, the nail techs are also trained in nail art, which you can ogle at over on their Instagram.
Maya Ivanjesku, VP of R&D, LaFlore Skincare
Skincare is a wonderful if difficult nut to crack within beauty. The competition is rife and once you've decided on your moisturizer or eye cream, you typically use the same one for the rest of your days.
“The scope of my experience in skincare is quite large," begins Maya Ivanjesku, formulator of new line LaFlore- “I've been been formulating for years for different brands from Lauder, Clinique, to Origins to Bobbi Brown."
Ivanjesku is attempting to charge the industry with a new line based solely on the nutritious values of probiotics. "Every formulator's dream is to have their own line!" she says, "but it's hard." With many of the industry leaders claiming to invest their skincare with powerful nutrients, Ivanjesku asks, how are the products (almost always) white?
The answer is simple, because while they may have added the nutrients in the first instance, they bleach and strip back the value of the nutrients in order to get that crisp white finish.
"We're all about safety. We test for toxicity, we're all natural, but like any natural products - if you use too much of it, it can be bad for you. So one has to know much is good for your skin," she says. Ivanjesku explains that throughout the line of cleanser, serum and moisturizer, no ingredient is used that is higher than number three on the toxicity scale.
“It's the probiotic that's the workhorse," she says, continuing, "the probiotics that we chose will help multiply your skin cells - the more cells you produce the healthier your skin will be." And work they do. The three-part regime is as accessible as it is effective, and really affordable. We really admire Ivanjesku's determination to provide better skincare with the very, very best ingredients and can't wait to see what's coming next for LaFlore.
Emanuela DeFalco, founder, Dirty Little Secret Cosmetics
For those who thought subscription boxes were dead, Emanuela DeFalco and her success story, DLS, prove very much to the contrary.
After completing four-year college degree at the insistence of her parents, DeFalco decided to go makeup artistry school, where she gained much of the experience she needed in order to start a beauty brand. Finishing school and creating her halloween look for that year, she wanted to wear a blue lipstick, but could find none in the drugstores or luxury makeup counters that fit the bill. Luckily, her sister - a professional chemist, was able to help her formulate the shade she wanted. It was wearing the lipstick and receiving a tonne of compliments that made her realize she could turn this quick whimsical decision into a business model. Asking her father for a $10,000 loan, she was ready to start her business.
DeFalco was smart enough to realize that a small, cruelty-free Indie brand would not stand up to the powerhouses of MAC or Lauder, so she decided to approach the industry from a completely different, but far-reaching angle, through subscription boxes. Focusing just on lipsticks and highlighters, hers was an easy and accessible sell for the acquisitions departments of some of the most renowned boxes out there.
"Ipsy was the gateway," she says about her first deal. Following her distribution in these boxes, she signed on with five more subscription companies, including Glossybox, and is in the process of securing further deals.
Emanuela De Falco
DLS comes in hot on the heels of the wave that's sweeping the beauty industry - cruelty-free products. When deciding on her manufacturer and testing facility, she was very careful to meet and uphold these standards. Manufacturing in China, there's always a risk of child or slave labor of course. "I flew to China and I made sure the manufacturer was clean, and I met the workers," she says, "I go every year, every November, and I make sure nothing has changed - they're not hiring children, that kind of thing." Testing her products in the US, she ensures that no animals are harmed in the process. We're really looking forward to seeing what the crafty DeFalco comes out with next.
Women in the workplace have always experienced a certain degree of discrimination from male colleagues, and according to new studies, it appears that it is becoming even more difficult for women to get acclimated to modern day work environments, in wake of the #MeToo Movement.
In a recent study conducted by LeanIn.org, in partnership with SurveyMonkey, 60% of male managers confessed to feeling uncomfortable engaging in social situations with women in and outside of the workplace. This includes interactions such as mentorships, meetings, and basic work activities. This statistic comes as a shocking 32% rise from 2018.
What appears the be the crux of the matter is that men are afraid of being accused of sexual harassment. While it is impossible to discredit this fear as incidents of wrongful accusations have taken place, the extent to which it has burgeoned is unacceptable. The #MeToo movement was never a movement against men, but an empowering opportunity for women to speak up about their experiences as victims of sexual harassment. Not only were women supporting one another in sharing to the public that these incidents do occur, and are often swept under the rug, but offered men insight into behaviors and conversations that are typically deemed unwelcomed and unwarranted.
Restricting interaction with women in the workplace is not a solution, but a mere attempt at deflecting from the core issue. Resorting to isolation and exclusion relays the message that if men can't treat women how they want, then they rather not deal with them at all. Educating both men and women on what behaviors are unacceptable while also creating a work environment where men and women are held accountable for their actions would be the ideal scenario. However, the impact of denying women opportunities of mentorship and productive one-on-one meetings hinders growth within their careers and professional networks.
Women, particularly women of color, have always had far fewer opportunities for mentorship which makes it impossible to achieve growth within their careers without them. If women are given limited opportunities to network in and outside of a work environment, then men must limit those opportunities amongst each other, as well. At the most basic level, men should be approaching female colleagues as they would approach their male colleagues. Striving to achieve gender equality within the workplace is essential towards creating a safer environment.
While restricted communication and interaction may diminish the possibility of men being wrongfully accused of sexual harassment, it creates a hostile
environment that perpetuates women-shaming and victim-blaming. Creating distance between men and women only prompts women to believe that male colleagues who avoid them will look away from or entirely discredit sexual harassment they experience from other men in the workplace. This creates an unsafe working environment for both parties where the problem at hand is not solved, but overlooked.
According to LeanIn's study, only 85% of women said they feel safe on the job, a 5% drop from 2018. In the report, Jillesa Gebhardt wrote, "Media coverage that is intended to hold aggressors accountable also seems to create a sense of threat, and people don't seem to feel like aggressors are held accountable." Unfortunately, only 16% of workers believed that harassers holding high positions are held accountable for their actions which inevitably puts victims in difficult, and quite possibly dangerous, situations. 50% of workers also believe that there are more repercussions for the victims than harassers when speaking up.
In a research poll conducted by Edison Research in 2018, 30% of women agreed that their employers did not handle harassment situations properly while 53% percent of men agreed that they did. Often times, male harassers hold a significant amount of power within their careers that gives them a sense of security and freedom to go forward with sexual misconduct. This can be seen in cases such as that of Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby and R. Kelly. Men in power seemingly have little to no fear that they will face punishment for their actions.
Source-Alex Brandon, AP
Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook executive and founder of LeanIn.org., believes that in order for there to be positive changes within work environments, more women should be in higher positions. In an interview with CNBC's Julia Boorstin, Sandberg stated, "you know where the least sexual harassment is? Organizations that have more women in senior leadership roles. And so, we need to mentor women, we need to sponsor women, we need to have one-on-one conversations with them that get them promoted." Fortunately, the number of women in leadership positions are slowly increasing which means the prospect of gender equality and safer work environments are looking up.
Despite these concerning statistics, Sandberg does not believe that movements such as the Times Up and Me Too movements, have been responsible for the hardship women have been experiencing in the workplace. "I don't believe they've had negative implications. I believe they're overwhelmingly positive. Because half of women have been sexually harassed. But the thing is it is not enough. It is really important not to harass anyone. But that's pretty basic. We also need to not be ignored," she stated. While men may be feeling uncomfortable, putting an unrealistic amount of distance between themselves and female coworkers is more harmful to all parties than it is beneficial. Men cannot avoid working with women and vice versa. Creating such a hostile environment is also detrimental to any business as productivity and communication will significantly decrease.
The fear or being wrongfully accused of sexual harassment is a legitimate fear that deserves recognition and understanding. However, restricting interactions with women in the workplace is not a sensible solution as it can have negatively impact a woman's career. Companies are in need of proper training and resources to help both men and women understand what is appropriate workplace behavior. Refraining from physical interactions, commenting on physical appearance, making lewd or sexist jokes and inquiring about personal information are also beneficial steps towards respecting your colleagues' personal space. There is still much work to be done in order to create safe work environments, but with more and more women speaking up and taking on higher positions, women can feel safer and hopefully have less contributions to make to the #MeToo movement.