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NEW YORK — When Trae Bodge, Scott Catto and Chad Hayduk — the three cosmetics gurus behind Three Custom Color Specialists — began whipping up custom-blended color cosmetics in 1997, little did the trio know that eight years later, they would be at the helm of a business said to be generating more than $4 million in annual sales yearly in more than 10 countries.

While the trio built their business on the concept of matching discontinued makeup shades — and now offer more than 7,500 such colors — they also have embraced the ready-to-wear concept. Ready-made shades now number more than 250, and will grow by 33 stockkeeping units when the company introduces its new lip gloss line in the spring.

The new line comprises high-shine lip glosses, which are packaged in tubes with angled wand applicators — a departure from the 29 existing lip gloss sku’s, which are in pots. The pots will continue to be available, “but we wanted something easy to apply and easily portable with this new line,” said Catto.

The glosses, in cool, warm and neutral color families, are the result of inspiration “from literally everywhere,” said Bodge with a laugh. “Our travel, street fashion, what clients have asked for over the past two years — reproducing all of these discontinued shades has proven to be the ultimate think tank.”

The lip glosses, each priced $18.50, will be available in the brand’s distribution of 53 domestic beauty boutiques and 17 overseas stores, as well as on threecustom.com, the company’s Web site, in March. Sources estimate they could do $500,000 this year. And distribution will grow even more this year: Bodge noted that Three Custom Color has plans to add doors in Qatar, Belgium and Hong Kong by yearend.

As excited as the trio is about its new lip gloss line, they emphasize that business is as strong as ever on the custom-blended side — and the company’s Color Studio initiative, added to its Chelsea headquarters in October, is one of the elements leading the charge for the custom and ready-made sides of the business.

“The Color Studio allows us to make people feel at home,” said Hayduk. “We wanted something intimate. When you’re getting your face done at a department store, you have everyone grabbing at you. Up here, you can just relax in a quiet space, with a consultant who wants to make the process a pampering one.”

This story first appeared in the January 14, 2005 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

One-on-one consultations in the studio involve a run-through of the trio’s hundreds of ready-made shades, as well as consultations on custom-blended products for cheeks, lips, eyes and face. A “Makeup Bag Makeover” — where cosmetics hoarders’ bags become streamlined — is also included. These hour-long appointments run $65 for a Color Specialist, or $105 for an appointment with one of the founders. 

As for the custom-blended products themselves, two tubes of lipstick or two pots of lip gloss are $50 (additional units are available at that time for $15), a single pot of creme-to-powder blush is $37.50 ($20.50 for an additional one at order time) and a single compact of eye shadow or brow powder is $34 ($17 for each additional). Custom concealers can be had for $36.50, while loose powders are $47.50 and pressed powders are $36.50.

The Color Studio also offers complimentary 20-minute run-throughs of its ready-made makeup collections, with color and application recommendations.

Recipes for custom-blended colors stay in the trio’s archives indefinitely, allowing consumers to continually replenish their stash of shades. Lipsticks are the most-requested custom-blended products, noted Bodge. “We’ll match anything, but we also have recipes filed by name and from the high end to the mass end of the business — so if you know the name and brand of the desired color, there’s a decent chance that we’ll have it on file,” she said.

And unlike their department store sisters, “we never discontinue colors,” promised Bodge.

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