There’s a new Katherine in Katherine Annie Finch’s life: her direct-sales luxury beauty brand.
Launched officially Thursday, Katherine Cosmetics is named after the four Katherines in Finch’s family: herself, her mother, her grandmother and her great grandmother. “Men usually pass their names down, and women typically don’t. My family is a very, very loyal and a very strong family. They didn’t typically follow the rules,” said Finch, the former vice president of sales and marketing at Estée Lauder who goes by Annie. “For years, I thought I would have a daughter, and I would call her Katherine. Then, I was busy working so much, I never had a daughter. So, when I started the company, I figured, it’s my baby. I’m very protective and proud of it.”
Katherine Cosmetics is aimed at women like its namesake Finch: those who are 40-years-old and over, active and travel extensively. There are five products at the outset priced on average at $25 — concealer, cheek glow, mascara, shimmer gloss and eyeliner — that Finch insisted have to “follow the rules of real life.” That means they can’t make the wearer appear overly made up, they have to be easy to use and easy to carry, and they’re formulated to be powerful and effective multitaskers.
“Women 40 and over have different concerns. We have lines. We have wrinkles. We have spots we want to cover. If we are going to put on makeup and scientists have a way to make those makeup products better to help with those issues, I felt I needed to do that,” said Finch. “It’s a color brand, but there are skin-care benefits. You are getting the benefits of high-quality, active products. But, on the flip side, if you are not 40, it is still a color brand, and the colors are great.”
Finch highlighted the mascara as indicative of her philosophy. It has aloe extract, avocado oil, safflower seed oil and silk powder to nurture and protect, but also fills the typical mascara bill of lengthening and thickening. “When I sat down with the chemist, I said, ‘I want it to be good for your lashes.’ When you get older, you can lose your lashes,” said Finch. “It moisturizes the lash while it’s on, and lengthens and thickens with a traditional cone brush. There are hundreds of wands out there now. I wanted to give full, thick, healthy lashes, and that’s what this does.”
Katherine Cosmetics’ products are packaged in lightweight silver and brown packaging. The brand’s logo is four interlocking K’s to signify the four Katherines in Finch’s family tree. Following the initial launch, a sport collection will be introduced at the end of this month with three items: two lip glosses and a Wow stick. The products offer SPF protection. “I call it makeup for the Lululemon outfit,” said Finch. “The Wow stick has skin-care benefits, sunscreen and a little bit of glow, but not a lot of coverage. It’s just the perfect thing for you to look great without looking made up in your workout clothes.”
Although there are a slew of beauty brands based on the direct-sales model, Avon and Mary Kay being among the biggest, Finch believes Katherine Cosmetics is the first prestige makeup brand in direct sales. She has dubbed the sales consultants at Katherine Cosmetics makeup stylists, and she has signed up four already with the goal of having 20 to 30 stylists by the end of the year.
“My makeup stylists are real women who happen to love makeup, love to apply makeup and love to be social and spend time with their friends. It is that girl that you went to high school with who did everybody’s makeup for the prom. She might now be a stay-at-home mom who doesn’t have time for a full-time job,” said Finch. “I do a full training with them one-on-one. I do their first trunk show together. We are really looking at quality, not quantity. It will never be something that you can go online and just sign up. It is a luxury brand, so I want to make sure I meet all the people that represent us.”
Finch is adamant that Katherine Cosmetics expand slowly and doesn’t have specific revenue targets set in stone. “There isn’t any history to go on. It’s not like we can say another brand did this and did $300,000 or $1 million in the first year. There aren’t any benchmarks. I’m looking to be very protective of the brand and grow it correctly,” she said. “The sky is the limit for the brand — that I know for sure. It will be a matter of how quickly we can do it in a quality way.”