After IT Cosmetics attracted investment from TSG Consumer Partners and Guthy-Renker, the brand answered at least one question: It has the power to draw customers as well as backers.
On track to reach $120 million in sales at retail this year after registering $81 million last year, according to chief executive officer and cofounder Jamie Kern Lima, IT Cosmetics is rolling out to all Ulta Beauty doors this month after entering the beauty specialty retailer in the fall and pumping up its assortment with no less than 10 product launches in the first half of this year.
“On Sept. 1, we went into 307 [Ulta] doors, which was a large door count. We were the first brand in Ulta’s history that, during the first update, sales were so strong that we are going from six feet to nine feet in stores,” Kern Lima said. “We ended the year three times their projected goal for our brand.”
Janet Taake, chief merchandising officer at Ulta, posited that the additional feet could help make IT Cosmetics even more compelling to customers. “There are a lot of clinicals with the brand, and you want to give it space to tell its story,” she said.
While it’s expanding at Ulta, IT Cosmetics has remained a key player on QVC — industry sources reported that IT Cosmetics was the top color cosmetics brand last year on the shopping channel — and is working on an infomercial with Guthy-Renker set to premiere in the fall. Kern Lima is in the throes of developing the infomercial, which she detailed would probably focus on three items exclusive to Guthy-Renker and feature recognizable personalities, in addition to regular women.
On the product front, IT Cosmetics is forging ahead in the CC, or color-correcting, category, which the brand plunged into last April with Your Skin But Better CC+ with SPF 50+. Spring and summer CC releases from IT Cosmetics are CC+ Liquid Lip Serum, CC+ Ombre Waterproof Bronzer and CC+ Veil, a portable compact launching at Ulta in late June. Taake lauded IT Cosmetics taking steps to elevate its CC presence and become a major contender in the CC arena.
Kern Lima reasoned that CC products have been good for the brand because they fit well with its purpose. “Our brand is really known for full-coverage products that don’t make you look older when you wear them. We made a strategic decision not to launch a BB cream and that was unusual,” she said. “I need coverage. I have skin issues. For me, a BB cream is one step in my whole routine. I would still have to put foundation or concealer over the top and that’s not true to the brand or our customer. We could have made a lot of money launching one, but it wasn’t the right decision. We went straight to CC a long time ago. It was a true, full-coverage CC cream so that, for women who wanted it, it could be their only step. Our CC cream is now our number-one-selling item along with Bye Bye Under Eye concealer.”
Another important launch for IT Cosmetics is Tightline Waterproof, an extension of an existing product called Tightline Full Lash Length Black Mascara Primer that’s been a hit for the brand and fortified its problem-solution approach. “A lot of women have sparse lashes or holes in their lash line. If you have that, no mascara can solve that issue. We made something [in Tightline] that is one step. It is like your eyeliner, your black mascara all in one,” said Kern Lima. “The goal of it is that, when you put it on, it actually gets to your root, so you are coating the full length of your lash.”
Kern Lima said the strength of the brand has fueled January and February sales this year, doubling the sales over the same months last year. That sort of explosive growth requires support. IT Cosmetics has brought on board Christine Nevin, formerly vice president of product development at Philosophy, as vice president of product development, and Eileen Barker, who held senior vice president positions at Philosophy and Fresh, as senior vice president of sales.
Kern Lima observed, “My biggest goal is hiring people smarter than myself in every different area. When you have to grow a brand from infancy, you have to do everything even if you are not good at it. We are in this interesting place where we can afford to hire amazing people. That is what I’m on a mission to do.”