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.
Not too many years ago, my advice to political candidates would have been pretty simple: "Don't do or say anything stupid." But the last few elections have rendered that advice outdated.
When Barack Obama referred to his grandmother as a "typical white woman" during the 2008 campaign, for example, many people thought it would cost him the election -- and once upon a time, it probably would have. But his supporters were focused on the values and positions he professed, and they weren't going to let one unwise comment distract them. Candidate Obama didn't even get much pushback for saying, "We're five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America." That statement should have given even his most ardent supporters pause, but it didn't. It was in line with everything Obama had previously said, and it was what his supporters wanted to hear.
2016: What rules?
Fast forward to 2016, and Donald Trump didn't just ignore traditional norms, he almost seemed to relish violating them. Who would have ever dreamed we'd elect a man who talked openly about grabbing women by the **** and who was constantly blasting out crazy-sounding Tweets? But Trump did get elected. Why? Some people believe it was because Americans finally felt like they had permission to show their bigotry. Others think Obama had pushed things so far to the left that right-wing voters were more interested in dragging public policy back toward the middle than in what Trump was Tweeting.
Another theory is that Trump's lewd, crude, and socially unacceptable behavior was deliberately designed to make Democrats feel comfortable campaigning on policies that were far further to the left than they ever would have attempted before. Why? Because they were sure America would never elect someone who acted like Trump. If that theory is right, and Democrats took the bait, Trump's "digital policies" served him well.
And although Trump's brash style drew the most handlines, he wasn't the only one who seemed to have forgotten the, "Don't do or say anything stupid," rule. Hillary Clinton also made news when she made a "basket of deplorables" comment at a private fundraiser, but it leaked out, and it dogged her for the rest of the election cycle.
And that's where we need to start our discussion. Now that all the old rules about candidate behavior have been blown away, do presidential candidates even need digital policies?
Yes, they do. More than ever, in my opinion. Let me tell you why.
Digital policies for 2020 and beyond
While the 2016 election tossed traditional rules about political campaigns to the trash heap, that doesn't mean you can do anything you want. Even if it's just for the sake of consistency, candidates need digital policies for their own campaigns, regardless of what anybody else is doing. Here are some important things to consider.
Align your digital policies with your campaign strategy
Aside from all the accompanying bells and whistles, why do you want to be president? What ideological beliefs are driving you? If you were to become president, what would you want your legacy to be? Once you've answered those questions honestly, you can develop your campaign strategy. Only then can you develop digital policies that are in alignment with the overall purpose -- the "Why?" -- of your campaign:
- If part of your campaign strategy, for example, is to position yourself as someone who's above the fray of the nastiness of modern politics, then one of your digital policies should be that your campaign will never post or share anything that attacks another candidate on a personal level. Attacks will be targeted only at the policy level.
- While it's not something I would recommend, if your campaign strategy is to depict the other side as "deplorables," then one of your digital policies should be to post and share every post, meme, image, etc. that supports your claim.
- If a central piece of your platform is that detaining would-be refugees at the border is inhumane, then your digital policies should state that you will never say, post, or share anything that contradicts that belief, even if Trump plans to relocate some of them to your own city. Complaining that such a move would put too big a strain on local resources -- even if true -- would be making an argument for the other side. Don't do it.
- Don't be too quick to share posts or Tweets from supporters. If it's a text post, read all of it to make sure there's not something in there that would reflect negatively on you. And examine images closely to make sure there's not a small detail that someone may notice.
- Decide what your campaign's voice and tone will be. When you send out emails asking for donations, will you address the recipient as "friend" and stress the urgency of donating so you can continue to fight for them? Or will you personalize each email and use a more low-key, collaborative approach?
Those are just a few examples. The takeaway is that your online behavior should always support your campaign strategy. While you could probably get away with posting or sharing something that seems mean or "unpresidential," posting something that contradicts who you say you are could be deadly to your campaign. Trust me on this -- if there are inconsistencies, Twitter will find them and broadcast them to the world. And you'll have to waste valuable time, resources, and public trust to explain those inconsistencies away.
Remember that the most common-sense digital policies still apply
The 2016 election didn't abolish all of the rules. Some still apply and should definitely be included in your digital policies:
- Claim every domain you can think of that a supporter might type into a search engine. Jeb Bush not claiming www.jebbush.com (the official campaign domain was www.jeb2016.com) was a rookie mistake, and he deserved to have his supporters redirected to Trump's site.
- Choose your campaign's Twitter handle wisely. It should be obvious, not clever or cutesy. In addition, consider creating accounts with possible variations of the Twitter handle you chose so that no one else can use them.
- Give the same care to selecting hashtags. When considering a hashtag, conduct a search to understand its current use -- it might not be what you think! When making up new hashtags, try to avoid anything that could be hijacked for a different purpose -- one that might end up embarrassing you.
- Make sure that anyone authorized to Tweet, post, etc., on your behalf has a copy of your digital policies and understands the reasons behind them. (People are more likely to follow a rule if they understand why it's important.)
- Decide what you'll do if you make an online faux pas that starts a firestorm. What's your emergency plan?
- Consider sending an email to supporters who sign up on your website, thanking them for their support and suggesting ways (based on digital policies) they can help your messaging efforts. If you let them know how they can best help you, most should be happy to comply. It's a small ask that could prevent you from having to publicly disavow an ardent supporter.
- Make sure you're compliant with all applicable regulations: campaign finance, accessibility, privacy, etc. Adopt a double opt-in policy, so that users who sign up for your newsletter or email list through your website have to confirm by clicking on a link in an email. (And make sure your email template provides an easy way for people to unsubscribe.)
- Few people thought 2016 would end the way it did. And there's no way to predict quite yet what forces will shape the 2020 election. Careful tracking of your messaging (likes, shares, comments, etc.) will tell you if you're on track or if public opinion has shifted yet again. If so, your messaging needs to shift with it. Ideally, one person should be responsible for monitoring reaction to the campaign's messaging and for raising a red flag if reactions aren't what was expected.
Thankfully, the world hasn't completely lost its marbles
Whatever the outcome of the election may be, candidates now face a situation where long-standing rules of behavior no longer apply. You now have to make your own rules -- your own digital policies. You can't make assumptions about what the voting public will or won't accept. You can't assume that "They'll never vote for someone who acts like that"; neither can you assume, "Oh, I can get away with that, too." So do it right from the beginning. Because in this election, I predict that sound digital policies combined with authenticity will be your best friend.