A magazine editor-turned beauty CEO gives us her crib sheet.
Having been a journalist for over 20 years, first as a fashion editor, and then as beauty director of British Vogue, I had never considered creating my own beauty company.
It was only thanks to years of loyalty to one small brand, and the fact that, despite having every beauty product in the world at my desk, I still spent my own money on it.
My addiction led to a passion for the power of plants, for the natural efficacy of aromatherapy and for the pleasure that came from it.
One day, almost on a whim, I decided to create similar products of my own. My collection of essential oil-infused bath, body and skin care is called This Works and I couldn’t have done it alone, of course. My partners provide the expertise in formulation and prescription. But to get the line into stores and selling was a huge hurdle for me.
I still work for Condé Nast in a directorial role as international beauty director for Asia. This has allowed me to experience the compelling world of brand-building and target-marketing from the Atlantic to the Pacific and test products from China to Japan and from the U.S. to the U.K. It is no mean feat to get a brand onto retail shelves, competing with multimillion dollar brands. It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there! It is equally impressive to get your products written about in glossy magazines.
Looking at it from both sides, I am now aware of some invaluable lessons I’ve picked up along the way. Following are a few tips from the trenches that future marketers who know as little as I once did might find useful:
01. Your brand has to sit on a shelf next to names like Chanel, Estée Lauder, Lancôme and so on. Your packaging must compete on that level. If you are going into the mass market, there are even more brands to compete against. Your brand needs to stand out in a crowd. Inventing a look from a little graphic design package on your computer at home just won’t cut it. Get professional help and advice. 02. Magazines will never photograph your boxes. So while outer packaging is vital on the shop floor, it’s the componentry that will get photographed, or not. Art directors are purists. They look for good design. They will only photograph items that they feel have style and design value. The ones that “pop.” If your product is fabulous, the beauty editor may write about it, but it won’t get photographed unless it meets the art director’s aesthetic requirements.
03. It helps to have a good name. This works better graphically and in the memory of the consumer.
04. There is very little existing componetry to choose from if you can’t afford custom bottles and jars. Tooling will increase your start-up costs enormously, but stock packaging is everywhere. Either you have to think of a clever graphic way out of this or you have to find the money, at least for an exclusive cap, to distinguish your range from others.
05. Make sure you have a USP, or Unique Selling Point. Beauty editors will know if your concept is just a copy of someone else’s. Remember: They have seen it all!
06. Make sure you have money in the budget for promotion. Department stores will expect you to compete with the big brands in terms of staff, posters, light boxes and in-store displays. They will not help you because you are a “niche” brand and they will not give you window displays unless you pay for them.
07. The chief executives of the big brands were very kind to me—and encouraging. I realize now that they knew how much power they had on the shop floor. Take all the help you can get.
08. Celebrity endorsement. I wish it didn’t apply, but it does. If you can draft a star to endorse your products, it’s the best possible marketing strategy, as long as they echo your brand positioning. Thank you to Madonna, Hilary Duff, Kimberley Stewart, Elle Macpherson and Laura Bailey for talking about us.
09. Publicity will only get you one sale. In the end, the important thing is that customers like your product so much that they make a second purchase.
10. Time your publicity carefully. There’s no point in placing a fabulous editorial if the product is not yet on the shelves for customers to buy. Leave enough time to factor in hazards (e.g., a safety trial that takes longer than anticipated or packaging not turning up in time). It happens.
As one of the most recognizable models in the world, Christy Turlington Burns has an insider’s view of the fashion industry and the allegations of sexual harassment swirling around it. “I can say that harassment and mistreatment have always been widely known and tolerated in the industry. The industry is surrounded by predators who thrive on the constant rejection and loneliness so many of us have experiences at some point in our careers,” Turlington told WWD, along with her suggestions for how the modeling world should protect younger women and men. Read more on WWD.com. Link in bio. (📷: Tony Palmieri) #wwdnews
@asics America has tapped a new brand ambassador: famed DJ/record producer @steveaoki. This initiative is intended to set the tone for the new brand identity and philosophy and will include partnerships with influencers and in-store and off-line activations that will continue into next year. This is Asics’ most significant marketing effort in two decades, and is expected to attract younger consumers to the brand. #wwdfashion
24-year-old Jean Prounis is redefining the rules of jewelry. Formerly a studio assistant to Jemima Kirke and a design apprentice at Ghuran, she focuses on handcrafted subtleties and ancient goldsmithing techniques. “There was a really sterile feel in the environment and I wanted to have jewelry with character that shapes how you wear it everyday,” Prounis said. Each piece is hand made in New York, either by Prounis or three other jewelers in the district. #wwdfashion
“These collections continue to build on that vision, empowering differently abled adults to express themselves through fashion,” said @tommyhilfiger of his line of adaptive apparel, which launches today. The line consists of 37 men’s and 34 women’s styles based upon the pieces from the spring Tommy Hilfiger sportswear collection. #wwdnews
“Stranger Things” is getting a new cast member for season 2. Meet @sadiesink_, the 15-year-old who will be joining the Netflix series for its new season. You may recognize her from “The Glass Castle” with Brie Larson and Woody Harrelson, but the Texas native’s next role goes in an entirely different direction. She describes her character, Max, as “a rough and tumble skater girl [who] becomes friends with the boys at school.” The second season debuts on October 27. (📷: @jgreenery) #wwdeye
Amid the Harvey Weinstein controversy, there’s another sector that’s being put under the spotlight for sexual abuse: the modeling industry. While rumors about abuse and sexual harassment of female and male models — and the photographers, agents and others who perpetrated it — have circulated within the fashion world for years, model @cameronrussell started posting stories from models on Instagram last week about abusive situations they’ve encountered — from sexual harassment and molestation to attempted rape. Over 75 have weighed in so far. Read more on WWD.com. Link in bio. #wwdnews
To celebrate its 16th anniversary, @dylanscandybar tapped designers and celebrities to create mosaics out of candy. The mosaics will be auctioned off to support the philanthropic cause of each participant’s choice. Pictured here is the mural created by @aliceandolivia's Stacey Bendet. For a first look at some of the other artwork being unveiled tonight, go to WWD.com. #wwdeye
The annual Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic in Pacific Palisades this weekend drew Kate Hudson, Tracee Ellis Ross, Laura Dern and more. See pictures of the star-studded event on WWD.com. (📷: @chelsealaurenla) #wwdeye
In his new book “Hollywood Royale,” Andy Warhol’s Protégé Matthew Rolston celebrates the Eighties revival of Hollywood glamour. Featuring more than 100 portraits taken by Rolston from 1977 to 1993, the book contains photos of icons like Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, and @drewbarrymore, pictured here in 1991. “Hollywood Royale,” out today, will be accompanied by an exhibition opening at Los Angeles’ Fahey/Klein Gallery on March 1. #wwdeye