Despite the difficulties of 2020, some beauty brands made strides that have set them up for long-term growth. Case in point: customized and personalized Function of Beauty, best known for its hair care products. The 4-year-old startup closed out December 2020 with a $150 million Series B raise led by L Catterton, which it followed with a brick-and-mortar retail expansion with Target. And before that, the brand made several strategic moves, such as extending into body care and skin care, and launching national linear television ads. Of the success, on this week's episode of the Glossy Beauty Podcast, Function of Beauty co-founder and CEO Zahir Dossa said, "It's getting borderline politically incorrect to ever say you had a great 2020, so I will not commit to having a great one. For the business itself, we've had some wins, but we had a lot of tough challenges to overcome, as well. Overall, I think it was a huge success with the ability to carry out all our ambitious plans, all in one year."
Alpyn Beauty founder and CEO Kendra Kolb Butler had plans to leave the beauty industry in 2015. She moved from New York City to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, following long-term stints in marketing and public relations at Dr. Dennis Gross and Clarins. But, after living in her new hometown for a week, she "missed talking to women about their skin and their problems," she said on this week's episode of the Glossy Beauty Podcast. Kolb Butler quickly set up a beauty shop, Alpyn Beauty Bar, to cater to locals' skin-care needs, but customers kept coming in saying they needed different solutions for dryness and hyperpigementation caused by the Jackson Hole climate. "I started to notice a trend that they would come back in with the product they purchased, and they would say, 'What else do you have in the store? This isn't working,'" she said. "I didn't really know what to do. I was selling the best brands in skin care and the best cosmetic lines, and I didn't have anything else to offer. I was sitting in my backyard one summer, and I was looking at the National Forest. I'm pondering, 'I'm going to go out of business in these stores,' and as I'm thinking about this, I'm looking at the plants that are growing in the wild. They are so plump, juicy, hydrated and full of nutrients. And I'm thinking, 'What is growing here?'" Those wildcrafted plants sparked the idea for Kolb Butler's skin-care brand Alpyn Beauty, one of the fastest-growing new beauty brands. Sales of the 2-year-old company, which is sold at Sephora, QVC and Credo, have grown 115% in the last year. And though plenty of private equity and VC firms have taken notice of the company, Kolb Butler is taking her time, in order to strive for long-term, global growth.
In this week’s episode of the Glossy Beauty Podcast, our editorial team takes a look ahead at what 2021 may have in store for the beauty industry, from the rise of livestreaming and TikTok influencers to genuine strides in product sustainability.
Dec 23, 2020
'The strategy has not changed': Sally Beauty's Carolyne Guss on the retailer's pandemic-friendly rebranding
In the winner-takes-all conversations around beauty, much has changed including what a winner looks like in the midst of a pandemic. Fortunately for Sally Beauty, it had embarked on a digital-centric strategy before Covid-19 became an industry-rocking crisis. “We had a pretty extensive brand relaunch that we were in the throes of. It was about modernizing the brand, showcasing to consumers that we will deliver the confidence they needed to DIY at home. The strategy honestly has not changed, because that’s become even more important during the pandemic,” said Sally Beauty group vice president of marketing Carolyne Guss on the Glossy Beauty Podcast. Online sales for Sally Beauty Holdings were up 250% in the third quarter of fiscal year 2020, compared to the prior year.
Dec 16, 2020
Alongside food, no industry has driven the way companies and influencers use social media quite like beauty. "Beauty brands and creators have always been early movers in that space," said Kristie Dash, Instagram's manager of fashion and beauty strategic partnerships, on the Glossy Beauty Podcast. "And Instagram continues to evolve based off of those behaviors." In recent years, beauty giants like Sephora have taken to connecting with their followers in the same casual way that individual creators might, Dash said. "If you're not a creator-led brand that has an obvious face of the brand -- in those examples, that's what people love to connect with, almost like a FaceTime with your followers -- then brands like Sephora and MAC Cosmetics, with their built-in creator network of hundreds of global makeup artists, are leaning into that. A creator mentality has really helped them," she said. "They're utilizing those personalities almost to replicate the in-store experience of having that conversation with the makeup artist or the ambassador; they're replicating that on Instagram Live."
Dec 9, 2020
If there's one thing that makes Tracy Anderson's workout routines stand out, it's the iteration. Joseph Pilates "stopped at 350 moves," Anderson said on the Glossy Beauty Podcast. "And I've got thousands upon thousands of sequences." That extends to live workouts, which Anderson favors over a rote streaming approach. "I'm not nervous to put the pressure on me. Every week, no matter what's going on in my life, I have to show up for everybody." This includes running the business side of her eponymous company, which she previously parsed out to other people. Despite having high-profile clientele like Gwyneth Paltrow and Jennifer Lopez, Anderson has preferred the slow and steady approach to growth versus rapidly scaling. "I'm the CEO now because other CEOs did not share my vision, and they felt really uncomfortable to me," she said. "At the end of the day, when you want to own a business, or if you're a founder, it's like parenting, in a sense. You might wish that the nanny can teach your kid all the lessons or parent them, but that's not parenting at all. That's giving away all of your power. That's not going to inject your child with all of your magic and all you have to offer.... There have been chapters of owning this business that I'm definitely not proud of. So me being in the CEO position is the moment for me to say, 'OK, you can't let somebody else change all the diapers.'"
Dec 2, 2020
This past January, JuE Wong joined hair-care brand Olaplex as its CEO -- not because it had budding potential, but because of the strength of its existing assets. For one, the demand is there. "What we are seeing is that, when people are looking at their hair, they look at it as an extension of their skin care," Wong said on this week's episode of the Glossy Beauty Podcast. And skin care, of course, has emerged as a major category in recent years. Olaplex has also developed a strong reputation among stylists and other salon professionals, "which gave it a lot of credibility and authority," Wong said. "So when I joined I saw that equity." Olaplex launched in 2014 and only developed a few products to start. "They knew that if they were going to launch anything else, it had to be best in class and best in category," Wong said. "And that is what I mandated myself to do. I told my team that we are not going to go for SKU proliferation, but we are going to hone in on innovation."
Nov 18, 2020
For La Prairie Group regional vice president François Le Gloan, what the luxury beauty brand didn't do in response to the coronavirus pandemic is as important as what it did. Le Gloan is responsible for the company's operations in the Americas and Oceania. "We have seen a flurry of promotions," he said about the larger beauty industry, on the Glossy Beauty Podcast. "With the help of our retail partners, we have managed to stay a bit away from this surge of promotional activity." One front for change, however, is how the company sells product online. La Prairie organizes online events; participants receive samples in the mail in advance, so that they can mimic the typical learning and sampling experience that was the industry's bread and butter in-store before the crisis. Le Gloan anticipates that many of La Prairie's digital pivots will stick around for the long haul. "Looking back maybe two or three years time, we will realize that it has enriched the palette of the way we are doing things," he said.
Nov 11, 2020
Luxury Brand Partners' Tev Finger on knowing and creating what beauty conglomerates want before they do
When Luxury Brand Partners founder and CEO Tev Finger pitched his idea to Estée Lauder Companies -- an in-house brand incubator that he would run after the company bought his brand Bumble & Bumble -- the company almost went for it. "I give a lot of credit. It's hard for a company that buys brands that are profitable to even contemplate taking a risk on incubators," Finger said on the Glossy Beauty Podcast. "It ended up not happening." That was around 2006, Finger recalled. But all these years later, he still sees Luxury Brand Partners, which he founded in 2012, as an incubator for beauty conglomerates in everything but name. "I'm actually an arm of them," Finger said. "We kind of line it up for them to make an easy acquisition. We know the things they're looking for." Since the Bumble & Bumble acquisition, Finger has sold Becca to ELC, Pulp Riot to L'Oréal and Oribe to Kao Corporation. Other brands in the LBP portfolio include R+Co, Patrick Starrr's One/Size and Camila Coelho's Elaluz -- the latter two launched during the pandemic. Which of the giant beauty companies ends up buying the small companies he sets up is beside the point, as long as one of them does. Not that it's easy. "It has to be profitable, and it has to be well executed. And you have to have trademarks around the world and licenses -- so when they buy it it's seamless," Finger said. "If you can erase the roadblocks and put it to them on a platter, you're going to get a lot of buyers."
Nov 4, 2020
Fragrance isn't what it used to be, according to Acqua Di Parma CEO Laura Burdese. "I don't wear a fragrance anymore to represent my personality to someone else," Burdese said on this week's episode of the Glossy Beauty Podcast. "I do it because of myself, because it's part of my personal, intimate life." That's partly due to the pandemic that is hitting with renewed strength, of course, both in the company's native Italy and around the world. If people are still wearing perfume, they're doing it for themselves. "On top of fragrances, we've seen the rise of so many bath and body products and home fragrances like candles and diffusers," Burdese said of the self-care momentum. "This is a shift that was probably somehow already there, but the pandemic really accelerated it." Acqua Di Parma's customer base is slowly skewing younger, Burdese added. For those generations and overall, the meaning of luxury has changed from being a simple price bracket to requiring an emotional resonance with customers, "something they believe in and feel is relevant to them," Burdese said. "To me, luxury is becoming something more personal." And that, she said, is oftentimes "more difficult."
Oct 28, 2020