JENNIFER GOLDFARB, 37
This story first appeared in the February 8, 2013 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Several years into a finance career, Jennifer Goldfarb realized she was in the wrong job. “I took some time off and did some soul-searching and tried to figure out what it was that motivated me,” she says. “What was really important to me was having a role inside a company and helping build a company.” With that objective in mind, Goldfarb joined Bare Escentuals in 2005, and helped build the infomercial team, a critical function for a brand that found an audience by telling its story on television. While there, Goldfarb learned a thing or two from its legendary chief executive officer, Leslie Blodgett. “She was always about taking care of the customer first and the sales will follow,” recounts Goldfarb.
After seven years at Bare Escentuals, where her final post was vice president of corporate strategy, Goldfarb was ready for a new challenge. She joined Ipsy last year as president. “I had the bug to do something more entrepreneurial,” she says. Ipsy is indeed that. An online sampling service tied to eight YouTube personalities, most notably Michelle Phan, Ipsy is at the forefront of tapping online videos to connect beauty brands to young, social media–savvy consumers. Every month, Ipsy customers create some 1,000 Web videos discussing their Glam Bags, which are priced at $10 and contain four to five products. As Ipsy charges forward, Goldfarb looks back at her career pivot with no regrets. “It was definitely the best decision that I could have made,” she says. “What I’m really passionate about is helping women feel more confident, and I think beauty can do that.” Blodgett would be proud. —Rachel Brown
SAMIRA ASEMANFAR, 30
Founder, Bellacures and The Broot
Avid entrepreneur Samira Asemanfar is constantly on the lookout for gaps in the beauty-services market that she can fill. Dissatisfied with the nail salons in Los Angeles, which she felt didn’t live up to her stylish standards, Asemanfar started Bellacures in 2006 to marry ambiance with her expectations. Now, Bellacures has seven nail salon locations across the L.A. area, each of which generates $500,000 to $1.4 million in annual revenues. “We’ve never had a year where we didn’t do better than the year before,” Asemanfar says.
With Bellacures humming along, Asemanfar felt it was time to try her hand at another concept. Pondering the ways in which a new beauty-service destination could address an unmet need, she began thinking about “treatments that you would do at home, but don’t have the time to do or don’t want to make a mess doing. I’m the type of person who doesn’t want to do anything myself,” she laughs. Asemanfar landed upon the idea of a hair-treatment bar that would whip up and apply hair masks made from natural ingredients. Opened last year in Santa Monica, Calif., The Broot, which stands for “back to the root,” offers six treatment options, including the popular Reconstruct Mask with honey, banana, mayonnaise and oils, and Rehydrate Mask with mayonnaise, avocado, oils and honey. Every treatment costs $35 and takes 45 minutes. “A big part of it is the experience. It feels really good, and your hair feels very clean,” says Asemanfar. “There’s value in doing one thing, doing it well and doing it affordably.” —R.B.
FREDERICK BOUCHARDY, 33
Founder and President, Joya; Cofounder, Elements Showcase
Beginning his career as a journalist covering the post-9/11 landscape, Frederick Bouchardy entered beauty by accident. After discovering a unique palm oil wax, he decided to launch a line of scented candles and hence was born Joya Studio (Spanish for jewel) in 2004. Part fragrance house, part design collective, Joya offers items like scented jewelry, oil-based perfumes and candles housed in handmade, one-of-a-kind packaging. “I thought the packaging had to be in line with the company’s mission to support local artists and sustainable materials,” says Bouchardy, who often works with New York–based artisans on product creation. “Our products are practical but also a joy to experience and open, even if it is a gift to yourself.” The company recently relocated to a 12,000-square-foot refurbished 1800s-era garage in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn, where all manufacturing operations are visible to shoppers. According to industry estimates, in 2012, Joya shipped more than 300,000 products worldwide, generating more than $3 million in net sales.
Based on his experiences with Joya, in 2011, Bouchardy set out to reinvent the trade show experience, providing a highly curated space where niche beauty brands—much like his own—could come together. That year, he, along with Ulrich Lang and Jeffrey Lawson, cofounded the Elements Showcase, a two-day New York City–based event that showcases the most innovative indies on the market. “This is not a regular trade show with the mad dash and the pressure,” says Bouchardy, who has plans to take Elements to Dubai, London and Tokyo. “We show small, beautiful objects that incorporate so many elements of design. They need to be seen in person and in context, and Elements is that context.” —Belisa Silva
KATIA BEAUCHAMP, 30, and HAYLEY BARNA, 29
By this point, the Birchbox story is familiar: The two-year-old business grew out of what the founders, Hayley Barna and Katia Beauchamp, saw as a sizeable hurdle to buying beauty products online. The Harvard Business School classmates felt products had to be touched, tried and experienced before women could confidently purchase new items or brands via the Internet. And with a flurry of new product launches each season, the offeringalso had to be curated. Beauchamp and Barna launched Birchbox, a members- only beauty sample site, to surmount those hurdles and go a step further: Offer full-sized products for customers to purchase after they’d taken a shine to the samples. “It’s 360 degrees of discovery,” says Beauchamp. The concept has caught on, and Birchbox now has more than 300,000 subscribers. The site’s brand partners include Kiehl’s, Nars Cosmetics, Oscar Blandi, Deborah Lippmann, Stila, Smashbox, and, as of this month, Lancôme.
Last year, it expanded its reach to men, and abroad, having acquired the Paris- based JolieBox, a monthly subscription service for beauty products with business units in France, Spain and the U.K. In January, it rebranded the U.K. site as Birchbox, and plans to continue to expand internationally. Its breadth of product continues to expand as well. Beauchamp says that Birchbox launched with 10 products and today offers some 2,000. Thinking out of the box has taken on a whole new meaning. —Molly Prior
ALLI WEBB, 38
Alli Webb spends a lot of time at the bar. But rather than sipping spirits, Webb, a 37-year-old mom of two boys, is busy overseeing and feverishly expanding her blow-dry service business, Drybar. “From the first day we opened, I couldn’t believe the response,” says Webb, who launched her company in 2010 with her husband, Cameron Webb, and brother, Michael Landau. She conceived the idea for Drybar after being unable to find a convenient and easy blow-out option for her naturally curly hair. “Women were coming up to me and thanking me within three seconds of meeting me. We knew we were on to something,” Webb continues. Drybar offers women a flat rate of $35 or $40 (depending on the location) for a professional blow-dry service—now available in six iterations. Generating about $1.5 million in sales in its first year, the brand has been expanding exponentially, reaching more than $12 million at the end of 2012. According to Webb, sales increases were spurred by constant store openings: There are currently 25 Drybars, with an additional 16 to 18 slated for 2013. Future plans include international expansion and a retail product line that sources estimate could generate $5 million in first-year sales. “When Alli walks into a Drybar, women come up to her like a rock star,” says Landau. “[They] are so proud of her for building this business.” —B.S.
OLIVIER POLGE, 38
Senior Perfumer, IFF
When it comes to creating the classics of tomorrow, Olivier Polge is racking up some of the greatest hits on the olfactive charts. Already at the young age of 38, the IFF perfumer—a scion of one of the most esteemed families in perfumery (his father, Jacques, is Chanel’s in-house nose)—can count among his blockbusters Lancôme’s La vie est belle, Dior Homme, Viktor & Rolf’s Flowerbomb and Dolce & Gabbana The One for Men. Polge’s talent hasn’t gone unnoticed. In 2009, he was awarded the prestigious Prix International du Parfum. For Polge, a large part of his job entails “trying to understand people’s expectations with words,” he says. “We don’t have a common language. It’s very intuitive, very subjective. You have to learn how to listen and speak to our customers, and to the brands with which we work.” Those who have worked with him say he has mastered the vernacular. “We noticed with every project we are drawn to his unique scents,” says Rolf Snoeren, one half of the Dutch design duo Viktor & Rolf. “He has a complexity in his work that we find mysterious. We recognize his signature because of that. It’s never a one-dimensional scent.” Karine Lebret Leroux, director of fragrance creation for L’Oréal’s Luxe division, agrees: “It’s noble perfumery, but absolutely contemporary, absolutely modern.” —Jennifer Weil
SHANNON CURTIN, 37
Divisional Vice President and General Merchandising Manager for Beauty, Personal Care and Seasonal, Walgreens
Every day, about six million people walk through one of Walgreens’ more than 8,000 stores. There’s a good chance they’ll see one of 26,000 beauty advisers, or buy a mascara (about 36 are sold every minute.) Beauty is big business at Walgreens, producing an estimated 8 percent to 10 percent of the chain’s annual sales of $71.6 billion. At the helm of those efforts is Shannon Curtin, who is credited not only with elevating the selling environment of beauty and personal care at Walgreens in her two-and-a-half years there, but also fusing health and wellness products to foster greater sales of both. Curtin’s first exposure to the beauty world was selling prestige fragrances at her hometown department store. She became hooked on service, and, most recently, has put a bigger focus on Walgreens’ in-store education, including a new BeautyU for beauty advisers. Joe Magnacca, Walgreens president of daily products and solutions, says the move comes at a particularly pivotal time, as the retailer rolls out more Look Boutiques (there are 42 with plans for “several hundred”), nurtures its partnership with Alliance Boots and expands its online efforts via beauty.com and skinstore.com.
Her influence at the retail giant can’t be overstated. Says Magnacca, “Shannon has helped transform us from your ‘grandmother’s drugstore.’” —Faye Brookman
JOSIE MARAN, 34
Founder, Josie Maran Cosmetics
With her namesake all-natural cosmetics line, former model Josie Maran has proved she’s more—much more—than a pretty face. Maran, former spokeswoman for Maybelline New York, found a compelling way to merge natural ingredients and luxury beauty products—and to convince women to slather oil on their faces for a more radiant complexion. She launched her eco- conscious cosmetics line in 2007 at Barneys New York, and soon gained a cult following for her Argan Oil. Maran discovered what became her brand’s signature ingredient while on a photo shoot in Southern France, when a French woman told Maran the oil from Morocco was the secret to her flawless skin. Maran infused the oil across her entire product range as a substitute for harsh petrochemicals. The line’s positioning of “luxury cosmetics with a conscience” caught the attention of both Sephora and QVC. “Josie has an authenticity about her that we love, and that continues to resonate with our clients,” says Margarita Arriagada, senior vice president of merchandising at Sephora. “She has put argan oil on the map because she is passionate about what she believes in and is the real deal. Her conviction and credibility derive from the fact that she lives in the same completely sustainable and healthy environment that she advocates with her brand.” That philosophy has earned the model-turned- entrepreneur a pretty penny: Josie Maran Cosmetics are currently sold in more than 700 doors across North America and in international markets, such as South East Asia, Brazil and Mexico. And while Maran is mum on financial details, industry sources estimate the line generates more than $50 million in annual retail sales. —M.P.
IDO LEFFLER, 35
Cofounder, Yes To Inc.
Ido Leffler’s success can be tracked through his expanding wardrobe. Leffler, 35, first introduced the whimsical, naturally positioned personal care company to the U.S. mass market with Yes to Carrots in 2007. He took the self- professed title “chief carrot lover,” and became known industry-wide for always wearing orange. Leffler went on to launch product collections based on cucumbers (for sensitive skin), tomatoes (blemishes), blueberries (age damage) and, most recently, grapefruits (uneven tone). His wardrobe followed suit. There’s a Baby Carrots collection for the small set, too. (Leffler is the father of two young girls.) Today, Yes To’s products—ranging from eye gel to shampoo—are sold in more than 25,000 stores across more than 25 countries, ranging from Walgreens to Sephora in Europe; industry sources estimate the firm’s annual retail sales at $50 million.
Leffler—who on a recent winter day manages to wear orange, blue, green and red—says the company’s aim is to create the ultimate natural beauty brand with a range of products that make people happy. In the process, the brand has spawned a say-yes, can-do lifestyle around it, complete with an eye on philanthropy. The six-year-old company plans to allot one percent of its profits this year to the Yes To Seed Fund, which is dedicated to feeding children by planting school gardens across the U.S. and Africa. “We’ve built an incredible base and story,” says Leffler, “but we’re just getting started.” —M.P.
SIMONE PEDERSEN, 38
Founder, Red Scout
Simone Pedersen is breaking the mold for beauty training with her Red Scout on-demand, e-learning program. The Sydney-based beauty consultant and training specialist promises to deliver trained beauty retail staff on the sales floor in a fraction of the time of traditional basic training and that they will be equipped with a far more holistic grasp of the business; her clients include DFS Galleria, Lane Crawford and Sephora. The program offers four interactive audio-video modules in skin care, makeup and fragrance retail sales and customer service, each taking just 20 minutes to complete, the equivalent of six hours
of traditional training, according to Pedersen. It comes in five languages, but may be fully customizable, and costs just $69.95 per license. “A lot of brands do a great job in training in a product, but they forget about training in the category,” says Pedersen. “If you sell a fragrance, you should know about the fragrance category in a lot of detail, including your competitors and the different fragrance families,” she notes, adding: “The customer has changed a lot, but retail hasn’t been changing so much.” —Patty Huntington
JOEY SHAMAH, 31
Chief Executive Officer, E.L.F. Cosmetics
Joey Shamah, the chief executive officer and cofounder of E.L.F. Cosmetics, likes to call himself a disrupter. Instead of taking the traditional path of launching a new brand into brick and mortar distribution when he created his line of value cosmetics in 2004, Shamah sold only on the Web. His unorthodox tactics paid off. Shamah’s online business allowed him to demonstrate application techniques via how-to videos, but also test products that he could then take to retail doors with verified sales success. The model worked. Target signed on as his first retail partner, and sales were so brisk, other chains, including apparel retailers, soon started stocking E.L.F. both in promotional displays and in planograms. “E.L.F. has been among our most popular holiday items for the past two years,” confirmed a Target spokesman, who noted the success led to year-round presentation. The firm also attracted big-time investors: TSG Consumer Partners took a minority stake in E.L.F. in early 2011.
Despite competing with big players like Cover Girl and Maybelline, E.L.F.’s business has expanded quickly to an estimated $150 million in retail sales globally in 2012, of which online currently accounts for about 70 percent. This year could prove to be the real test of Shamah’s disruptive course. The company plans to unleash its most innovative items to date and expand into new retail chains, while also offering more higher-priced products to trade shoppers up. “Our vision has always been about enabling women to play in innovation without sacrificing their budget,” says Shamah. “No matter what product they pick up, we want them to say, ‘Wow! I can’t believe the quality for the price.’”—F.B.