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.
Photo Credit: afewgoodclicks.com
In 2016, Renee Wang sold her home in Bejing for $500,000 to fund her company, CastBox. Two months later, she landed her first investment. Just a half hour after hearing her pitch, she was offered one million dollars. By mid-2017, CastBox raised a total of $16 million in funding. CastBox's user numbers at that point? Seven million. Fast forward to today. Renee Wang of CastBox announces a $13.5 million Series B round of financing, bringing her funding total to a tidy $29 million. CastBox is now serving more than 15 million users.