By  on February 25, 2005

NEW YORK — Sonia Kashuk finds herself humming a lot these days. Her melody of choice, at least when creating her vibrant spring color cosmetics collection for Target, is “Put On a Happy Face” from the musical “Bye Bye Birdie.”

Her chipper mood comes after what the celebrity makeup artist noted was the fifth year of “big” sales increases at Target, the exclusive retailer of her namesake line Sonia Kashuk Beauty. “It was such an exciting year, and it closed on a high note with the holiday collection,” remarked Kashuk. Target declined to comment on sales figures, but industry sources estimate the line generates retail sales of roughly $40,000 per store, which translates to $52 million annually.

Since its introduction to Target in 1999, the line has gained more territory in the beauty department, growing from a 3-foot endcap to a 7-foot section. The line’s real estate begins on the end of the first beauty aisle and wraps around to an inline section shared by Revlon and L’Oréal. The offering has grown from 86 stockkeeping units to its current count of more than 220 items.

Sonia Kashuk Beauty dabbles in nearly every makeup category — from color cosmetics to skin care — and includes makeup brushes and cosmetics bags. “Everything in the line is doing exceptionally well,” Kashuk declared, adding, “but the makeup-artist-inspired items, like the palettes, have a very special place.” 

That said, the spring collection will include an eye-show palette of demure beige tones called Sweet Nothings and a pan of seven sheer lip glosses, Kissing Me Softly. Both will sell for $12.99 each. Eye duos in bolder hues include Dancing Queen (French blue and periwinkle) and Secret Admirer (purple amethyst and a pale lilac) for $7.99 each.

Kashuk reserves much of the color for the lips and cheeks, with Luxury Lip Sheer lipsticks in fruit-inspired shades such as Sheer Sunshine (melon) and Sheer Chic (pink grapefruit) for $6.99 each, and Sheer Vibrancy Lip Gloss in Love Letter (hot pink), and Happy Go Lucky (orange “creamsicle”)  for $5.99 each. Kashuk also has added a bold raspberry shade to her lip-plumping glosses, dubbed Lip Glossing. For the cheeks, Kashuk has created a vibrant pink blush, called Flamingo for $7.99.Target is choosing to inject the new spring colors, which will bow March 17, in the current Kashuk in-line display rather than merchandise the collection in promotional countertop display space. The bright colors pop against the line’s newly white packaging. Kashuk ditched the line’s original metallic gray-and-silver packaging for white last February so that beauty shoppers could more precisely see the color shades.

While many of the retailers’ competitors are clearing space for lower-priced value lines, such as Coty Beauty’s Rimmel London, Target has managed to entice its beauty shoppers to pay premium prices — on a par with those of Revlon and L’Oréal — for its exclusive beauty brand. Kashuk’s line ranges in price from a $6 single eyeshade to a $10.49 dual-coverage foundation. Her Step-By-Step Skin Care line, which launched about a year-and-a-half ago, reaches the $17 price point for a vitamin serum.

Kashuk said she and Target did not shy away from higher ticket prices because, together, they proved a beauty shopper can find good makeup in a mass-beauty department. “I’ve really upped the ante with this line by paying attention to the details of the packaging, delivery and formula,” she said.

Kashuk juggles her business — and product development — with her studio and editorial work. Next on her schedule is a trip to Europe, where she will accompany one of her celebrity clients — whose identity Kashuk would not disclose — on a publicity tour.

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