TheFairest.com is hoping to be the fairest of them all — all the private sale choices for beauty, that is.
This story first appeared in the August 14, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Launching Sept. 1, the new private sale Web site is the brainchild of Charles Perer and Mark Stiller, partners at Intermix Capital Partners LLC, the Beverly Hills investment firm backing retailer Studio BeautyMix at Fred Segal. TheFairest.com is attempting to distinguish itself from the rapidly expanding private sale pack by specializing in prestige beauty and evolving from a private sale focus into a well-rounded, direct-to-consumer platform to help brands interact with beauty enthusiasts.
“I don’t think the world needs a Gilt Groupe for beauty. I think beauty needs another distribution point,” said Perer, referring to the New York-based online private sale pioneer. “The cost structure for traditional beauty [retail] has been getting higher and higher for years.…TheFairest.com’s cost structure is affordable for brands to get their word out.”
Early on, TheFairest.com sales are expected to last from 24 to 72 hours and take place on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. One or several sales could run at a time with an offer of a single gift set to 60 or so products from a brand. Products will span multiple categories — skin care, hair care, body care, color cosmetics and natural among them — and price points from impulse to indulgence. TheFairest.com takes a 30 percent cut of each sale.
Perer and Stiller have roped in Visionaire-owned Venture Commerce, the Long Beach-based Web design, marketing and fulfillment house behind Web sites for Studio BeautyMix, William Rast, Kasil, J. Lindeberg and more, to handle infrastructure for TheFairest.com. Venture Commerce, which has an ownership stake in TheFairest.com, has experience in the private sale arena operating six-month-old online designer fashion resource SecretStyle.
Shelley Hunt, formerly Nordstrom’s national operations director for cosmetics, is wrangling brands for TheFairest.com, and Nadine Haobsh, the blogger behind Jolie Nadine, is providing editorial content. Hunt explained some beauty brands are concerned about online private sales damaging their image, but are assuaged by TheFairest.com’s brief sales, the company their brand will be in on the Web site and the ability to avoid retail conflicts with the online model.
“It is not TJ Maxx,” said Hunt, pointing out that Stila, Tarte, Jurlique, Cosmedicine, Korres, Skyn Iceland, Fusion, Butter London and Juara have jumped on board TheFairest.com. “I definitely see this as being a new opportunity for brands. It wasn’t something anyone would consider years ago. QVC was not a consideration years ago and look at it now.”
David Palmer, Venture Commerce’s vice president of marketing, suggested the long-term appeal of TheFairest.com will be determined by whether it can develop beyond private sales when excess inventory becomes less available as brands and retailers fully adjust to the economic realities or consumer demand picks up again. “There is going to be a tightening in the [online private sale] space,” said Palmer. “As it tightens, the brands are not going to work with everybody. You have to have other strings in your bow.”
TheFairest.com’s plan is to communicate to consumers about brands using supplied information and original material such as tips written by Haobsh, connect brands to beauty bloggers, engage consumers in market research, and perhaps initiate sampling programs. Ultimately, Perer and Stiller believe TheFairest.com could also become a launchpad for brands and develop a tie-in with Studio BeautyMix.
TheFairest.com’s first-year revenue goal is $5 million, a figure surpassed by the top online private sales venues. TheFairest.com’s profitability will hinge upon the number of customers it reaches and acquisition cost per customer, estimated by Perer to be anywhere from $3 to $25. “There are a lot of people chasing this [online private sale] space, but a few dedicated to beauty,” he said. “We want to own the niche.”