In February, Desiree Tordecilla, executive vice president of Kevyn Aucoin Beauty, was faced with a robust, but perplexing sales trend.
Several of the brand’s retailers began reporting that they were bleeding through their inventory of two of the brand’s bestsellers — Celestial Powder in Candlelight and Sculpting Powder. By April, the products were sold out, and Tordecilla isn’t expecting to have more in stock until the end of the month. With a little digging, she traced the sales surge to Beautylish.com, a Web site that aims to fuse content, community and commerce in a bid to lure the most ardent beauty aficionados.
Beautylish had created special content for the Kevyn Aucoin brand that featured a series of techniques from the makeup artist’s book “Making Faces.” The segment on one of Aucoin’s most notable techniques — contouring — featured the two products. The site — which has 5.5 million followers across social media — pushed out the content via e-mail, and later posted it on its site as editorial.
The initiative was so successful, recalled Tordecilla, that, “I jokingly asked [Beautylish] to take it down.”
It may have created a thorny inventory issue, but the customized content helped triple the Kevyn Aucoin brand’s online business across all retailers during February, March and April, compared with the year-ago period, said Tordecilla. It also lifted the brand’s in-store sales by a range of 85 to 125 percent.
That impact is exactly what Beautylish cofounder and chief executive officer Nils Johnson envisioned when he and the site’s cofounders, Sameer Iyengar, a former partner and technology manager at YouTube, and Vu Nguyen, cofounder of Crunchyroll, launched the site in late 2010. Prior to that, the trio had been scanning the technology space for investment ideas. Johnson, an active angel investor who has put money into vertical concepts such as Warby Parker, Everlane and Minted, recalled that during that time, they had noticed a shift in the way many women were learning about beauty products. Consumers were increasingly heading online, particularly to YouTube, boosting the credibility and notability of beauty vloggers such as Michelle Phan.
That observation led them to develop Beautylish, a site that’s also brimming with community content posted by the site’s followers.
They launched the San Francisco-based company as a content-only Web site, and by 2011, it had begun attracting one million visitors a month. In 2012, they added the e-commerce component, and today, the business boasts some three million visitors across Beautylish.com and its app.
“The first couple of years, the site focused on building content and community over selling,” recalled Johnson, whose background includes retail and investment banking. Johnson’s also no stranger to Silicone Valley. Following his time in finance, he founded Gorilla Mobile, an international telecommunication company. “Content is the thing that brings you back with high frequency. E-commerce was a sensible model, because if you are teaching someone how to use a product, why not sell it as well?”
The site carries 41 brands, including several exclusive lines, such as the namesake makeup brush collections from makeup artists Wayne Goss and Billy B.
Johnson, whose primary focus at Beautylish is merchandising, said the site adds one brand at a time, then builds a virtual boutique for each.
“We create content to introduce the brand and its products to consumers,” he said. “We put effort into storytelling about the brand. In beauty, the stories are sometimes as powerful as the products.”
For instance, to help tell the story behind the organic cosmetics brand Ilia, Beautylish visited the studio of founder Sasha Plavsic, who created the line in 2011 as a collection of six tinted lip conditioners.
Beautylish favors brands that are founder-led, leaders in their category and tightly distributed, noted Johnson. In addition to Ilia, the assortment includes Eve Lom, RMS Beauty, Ellis Faas, GlamGlow, Inglot and Too Faced, among others.
Johnson would not comment on the site’s financial performance, but did say sales in the company’s most recent quarter gained 53 percent in the most recent quarter over quarter.
Johnson said, “We think we can create an experience that, over time, is more compelling than a retail store.”
Taking the final spot on the mens’ portion of New York Fashion Week calendar next month will be none other than @tomford. Though he’s shown his men’s wear in New York in the past, this will mark the first time the designer has shown his men’s collection alone during New York Fashion Week: Men’s. His runway show will debut on February 6 at the Park Avenue Armory. #wwdfashion
London-based couture house @ralphandrusso has certainly been in the spotlight, having its dresses worn by @beyonce, Angelina Jolie, Meghan Markle in her engagement photos and more. For couture, Tamara Ralph focused on ornamentation — think: feathers with chain mail, jet embroidery and clusters of pearls and crystals. See the rest of the collection on WWD.com #wwdfashion #couture (📷: @giovanni_giannoni_photo)
Minnie Mouse celebrated her 90th birthday by getting her own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. For her celebratory luncheon, @coach’s creative director @stuartvevers dressed her in a custom made prairie dress, complete with Vever’s take on the polka dot – black sequined versions – under a cropped motorcycle jacket. The designer also put his own mark on Minnie’s classic red shoes, infusing the color with sparkles and adding some Coach crystals. “We chose colors that were very Minnie and also represented quintessential Coach elements,” said Vevers. #wwdfashion #nationalpolkadotday (📷: George Chinsee)
@nickjonas is unveiling his first-ever apparel collection through a partnership with John Varvatos. The limited-edition capsule, which makes its debut in spring, also marks the first time the designer has collaborated with anyone on a line. “The process in working with Nick is amazing. It’s inspiring to be around someone who is not only connected with the trade that they do, but also with what’s happening in the environment around him, and how that connects to what we do with style,” said Varvatos. (RG: @johnvarvatos) #wwdfashion
@margotrobbie steps out onto the red carpet wearing @miumiu. The actress is nominated for “Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role” in “I, Tonya” at the #SagAwards. (📷: Stewart Cook) #wwdfashion
For @massimogiorgetti of @msgm, the Nineties are his favorite decade. “They had a huge impact on my personal growth. What I like of the Nineties is that they are not so precise in terms of style as other decades…there was actually a bit of everything,” he said. As seen on MSGM’s Spring 2018 show: tie-dye and a bit of grunge, two styles that are synonymous with the decade #wwdfashion #wwddecades (📷: @kukukuba)